There is no simple way to answer this question. Every scenario is different and it often comes down to personal circumstances and individual decisions. No one else can make the final decision for you, except yourself.
If you find yourself in the counter offer situation, it is important to remember why you started your job search in the first place. There can be various reasons, including: having difficulties within your current company or role, frustration due to lack of progression, simply wanting to embark on a new opportunity or to challenge and develop your skills.
Starting and undergoing a job search is a time consuming process. Spending time searching, amending and sending your CV to apply for various roles, liaising with recruiters or companies directly, and attending interviews will hopefully result in the desired outcome of you securing a job offer for your dream role!
Once you have received an offer, the realisation that you need to inform your current employer that you are leaving soon becomes apparent. It is not something anyone enjoys doing but it has to be done. You may then find yourself in a situation where by your current employer comes back to you with a counter offer to try and keep you in your current role, or within your current organisation.
What do you do? Should you accept?
If this does happen, it is important not to make a knee jerk reaction and accept. In most cases the counter offer is likely to be an increase in salary – the question that you need to ask yourself is - will this better package ultimately resolve the issues that initiated your search? It is a testament to your hard work that a counter offer has been put forward, as your current employer obviously wants to keep you, but is it too little too late?
Obviously you need to consider the counter offer and it is good to speak to friends and family to discuss your options, as they can help you gain insight that you may not have considered. Ultimately, it is your decision and your personal circumstances that will determine what you decide to do. You must be 100% certain before you take action.
It is essential that the situation is handled correctly. There is potential that you will burn bridges not only with your future employers but also the recruiters if they have helped in your search and these could be connections that you need in your later career. Therefore you need to be honest and if a counter offer is put forward, it is only right to keep your recruiter in the loop so that they can manage expectations of all parties and help you in making the decision.
If you do decide to accept the counter offer then let them know directly as soon as possible. This will ensure that decisions can be taken by your potential future employer on their next steps as well.
It is clear that a counter offer is not an easy decision so take your time, ask the questions you need to and make an informed decision, not a rushed one. Remember to be honest and keep all parties in the loop.