It's happened to most of us at one point or another: you turn in your notice at a job, and the company scrambles to make a counteroffer designed to make you want to stay. It can be tempting, especially if the raise or benefits they're offering are sweet enough compared to the job (we hope) you're headed to, but in almost every case it's a bad idea to take the counteroffer. Here's why.
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Putting aside the notion that even if you take the counteroffer, you'll always be "that person who resigned but stayed for the money", it's worth remembering that counteroffers are usually made when a company — or a manager — is in panic mode and doesn't want to suddenly lose a potentially valuable employee — at least not until they can be replaced easily. So while you may take the counteroffer and think everything is OK, it's very likely that your management is working on ways to work around you or replace you so they can eventually eliminate an "at risk" employee, one they assume will start looking for a new job eventually again anyway.
Additionally, if your counteroffer came with a substantial raise, don't expect a regular merit or cost-of-living increase when everyone else gets one. Your managers will (rightfully) point out that "you just got a big increase when you threatened to leave", and that can stick with you for years. Many recruiters and HR professionals note that employees that take counteroffers usually leave or are pushed out in a few months anyway. Once you decline the offer with the new company, that door may not be as open as it was initially if you reach out a second time. All in all, if you're at the point where you're ready to leave a job, it's probably time to go, counteroffer or no counteroffer.
Have you ever taken a counteroffer? Would you ever take one if the pot looked sweet enough? Let us know in the comments below.