Accepting a counteroffer from your current employer can stifle and even threaten your career. I'm not talking about the typical give and take of salary negotiations type of counteroffers. I'm talking about the possible (and even likely) offer of more money (better schedule, fewer hours, etc.) made by your current employer to get you to stay in your current position once you have turned in your notice.
Taken at face value, a counteroffer looks like a compliment. You may be thinking, "Hey, they really value me!". While in actuality, it's somewhat of an insult. Walk through this with me. If you were so valuable to them, why did they wait until you quit to pay you what you're worth? And where is the money for your "bribe" coming from? Is it your next raise early? All companies have strict salary guidelines which must be followed.
Let's look at what's really going on here. Your boss offers you more money to stay. You may see that as a real boost to your ego! But is it really? Your boss most likely is thinking about where he's going to find someone to replace you and make sure all schedules in the store are covered while that person is in training. It's much less of a headache for him if he simply "buys you off" while he gets the details of the transition in order and scheduled when it's more convenient for him.
Rest assured that the underlying reason for trying to get you to stay is so the company, rather than you, can control the timetable for your departure. If you fall into the trap of accepting a counteroffer simply know that now that you've made your employer aware that you are unhappy, they will begin looking for your replacement. When they find that special someone, you will most likely be dismissed with little or no warning, leaving you without a job and probably with no immediate prospects of one.
Furthermore, should there be no immediate candidate found to replace you, where do you think your name will be on the list for promotions? Not at the top since you have now been labeled untrustworthy, disloyal, or unhappy. Your chances of advancement will disappear. Also, when times get tough for the company, they will begin to cut back with you.
You may also be subject to scrutiny by your peers. Having seen you "extort" more money out of the company, others will likely feel slighted and you will feel cut off from your coworkers and the personal satisfaction of peer group acceptance.
Consider this, when it's all said and done, the same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will repeat themselves in the future, even if you accept a counteroffer. Think again about why you started looking in the first place. The counteroffer is an insulting and dangerous temptation wrapped in a pretty package. Don't open it now that you know what's inside.