Should you accept a counteroffer? In a word, no. Here’s why.
When you accept a counteroffer, you burn a lot of bridges. Let’s count them.
First, you burn a bridge with the person who offered you a new position. Going back on your word is a slight that is not forgotten. You can bet the hiring manager will have nothing good to say about you.
You will also burn a bridge with your employer, though you may not realize it at the time. You’ll get more money, a better title or a new job, and be flattered with kind words about your great value to the organization.
Don’t be fooled, because your long term prospects are exceedingly dim. Sure, your employer wants you to stay for the time being, but that’s merely expedient. They don’t appreciate being held hostage to an offer from another company. Now that you’ve proven your disloyalty, they will plan for a future without you.
Let’s sum this up. In the short term you’ll get some financial or psychological reward. In the long-term, you’ll build a long enemies list that includes the person who offered you a job, people in his or her network, your current boss, other higher-ups at your company, and peers. All of them see you as a mercenary who can’t be trusted. Is that a trade-off worth making?
Whatever industry you are in, your professional world is smaller than you think. When you accept a counteroffer, you are poisoning your own well.