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My employer is about to make me a new offer, giving me a promotion and a raise. Based on what I've heard unofficially, it's good but lower than what I was hoping for (and they know this).

Meanwhile, another company is about to give me a much better offer and, assuming we work out some final details, I'm planning to take that one. My current employer knows nothing about that other offer.

What are some ways to handle this with my current employer?

  • I'm concerned that it's going to look bad if I sign a new contract (even one of indefinite time) and then give them my resignation less than 4 weeks later.
  • On the other hand, I'm concerned that if I don't immediately sign the new contract (i.e. if I say "I need time to think" while they offer me a strictly better contract than the one I currently have), I will automatically be giving away that I'm evaluating an external offer. I'm not sure it's a good idea to reveal that before being 100% sure that I'm taking the other job.

What other considerations might there be?

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    I hope the downvoter is able and willing to explain what is wrong with my question. If the question is bad because the answer is obvious, please feel free to enlighten me. – Sigma Ori Oct 18 at 18:14
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    Welcome to the passive aggressive nature of Stack Exchange. I actually have a similar predicament myself, so I'm curious about this too. – OhGodOhGod_itsnotworking Oct 18 at 18:16
  • How would asking for time to think about it reveal that you have an external offer? Maybe the extra responsibilities are not worth it to you for the price that they are offering ( you did mention that they know you want more money than the offer) – sf02 Oct 18 at 18:19
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    If they know you want a promotion and a raise, and both sides know that the offer they provide isn't what you were hoping for, saying you need time to consider the offer doesn't show that you have other offers, just that you're not sure you want to settle for less than you feel entitled to. – Jonathan Leech-Pepin Oct 18 at 18:24
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    Commenting to add personal experience with this situation; I got my raise and handed my notice in two weeks later to leave for a new company. The director of my department was pissed, my immediate boss was mildly irritated, but my career did not suffer and I now earn more than my immediate boss at that old job (after only 2 years). Do what is best for you. – Cyclical Oct 18 at 21:22
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Always act as if you are staying unless you are absolutely confident you will be leaving.

There are many reasons something like that might fall through:

  1. Company runs out of money/hiring freeze
  2. Company can't get you the money for some reason
  3. Until you quit, you don't have confidence you won't be at your current employer for years
  4. You might have something problematic in a background check you don't know about or know the company cares about (worst case, someone stole your identity and SURPRISE! you find out about it)

There's a lot of details that need to be finalized from "might get actual offer" to "actually signed an offer."

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    Or "Always act if you are staying unless you have a written job offer in hand that you have accepted." – thursdaysgeek Oct 18 at 18:37
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    "Always act as if you are staying unless you are absolutely confident you will be leaving." Glad to hear that, since this principle has been my compass so far. – Sigma Ori Oct 18 at 18:44
  • @thursdaysgeek I've seen a few folks who just take a break and plan on doing that where that wouldn't be as applicable. But, for most people, actually having a signed offer and completed paperwork is ideal :-) – enderland Oct 18 at 18:51
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I'm concerned that it's going to look bad if I sign a new contract (even one of indefinite time) and then give them my resignation less than 4 weeks later.

If your current company wants to give you a raise, they have business reasons for doing so.

With at-will employment (and assuming that's what this is), both employer and employee assume the risk that either party can end the relationship at any time.

Be assured your employer would not be too concerned about "looking bad" if they determined the relationship was not working out. So neither should you.

On the other hand, I'm concerned that if I don't immediately sign the new contract...I will automatically be giving away that I'm evaluating an external offer.

If you just accept the offer, this is not really a concern.

Companies are generally not that perceptive when it comes to employees looking around, because people are generally pretty good about hiding that sort of thing.

At any rate, sometimes it can be good if the company suspects you might be leaving, because it forces them to think about what it might take to keep you.


Ultimately, these are two completely separate concerns -- there is your current salary (regardless of when it was increased last), and there is the new potential salary.

Once you have a firm, actual offer, at that time you can evaluate which position looks more appealing. Until then, why turn down more money?

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Take what enderland said (it's always possible that you stay). But even if you leave, it's always better for you to leave with a promotion and a higher salary; this can only be useful when you negotiate a new contract with a new company.

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