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I love my job but I've been offered a job at a different company with slightly more salary. As I was in two minds to take the offer, I discussed with my current company if there is anything that can be done to help me consider, i.e. the salary and the role.

They said they can work with me to define the role and match the salary but want to see the offer letter as they trust me but want to see in writing what's been offered. As the offer letter is private and confidential, I said I can't share the details. I've been asked to remove all those details and share it anyways.

Should I forward the letter by removing the personal/confidential details?

They also said they may want to know the details of the company when close to an arrangement. I'm not sure I want to share the details, but can they cross check the offer with the other companies?

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    I'd be responding with "I'd rather just go to the other company if you're going to make this a big effort" May 26, 2023 at 6:34
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    "I said I can't share the details I've been asked to remove all that and share." -- hehe... it crossed my mind that you could well send them the letter with everything else scratched... just the salary... lol (this is just an hyperbolic observation, not something that I am suggesting)... not the most bulletproof request from your current company, as somebody that is dishonest could make up a letter, scratch and "remove everything else" and basically put the salary they want to have...
    – DarkCygnus
    May 26, 2023 at 7:12
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    Were you head hunted or did you apply and go for an interview? If it is the latter then you've already half made up your mind to go. No point blackmailing the current company for more money - just go. If you were head hunted, that's a different story.
    – cup
    May 26, 2023 at 16:54
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    The link provided in this answer to the recent (and vaguely related) question, Using an offer from another firm in my yearly review, provides some interesting statistics about counter offers from your current employer and their ineffectiveness - which is certainly worth a read. May 26, 2023 at 17:20
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    Does this answer your question? Sharing competing offer letter marked as "confidential" May 28, 2023 at 4:18

11 Answers 11

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You were right to point out your offer is confidential. If you remove all the text from that offer that can identify the other company then you end up with a text that you might just as well have invented yourself, there's no way your current company can verify that you have a genuine offer. It's a silly thing to ask for if you consider it from this perspective, if you already lied about getting an offer what would be stopping you from lying about it some more with a fake text...

Secondly, if you end up accepting the new offer, your new company might get informed that you showed the confidential offer to your old boss, it might be a bad light in which to start your new job.

So you should tell your current company they have to trust you because the offer is confidential and there is no way to prove you got the offer, other then producing a meaningless text. Why would you continue at a company that doesn't trust you?!

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    It may have been a mistake already, letting them know of the offer. In my experience it is better to negotiate knowing what you can have with one signature but not disclosing that you do. Then you can still accept a "close enough" improvement without coming across as "blackmailing" or threatening.
    – Fildor
    May 26, 2023 at 15:11
  • The new company might discover that you only got their offer to leverage your old employer... May 28, 2023 at 0:16
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    It's not a silly thing at all. It's a very common technique used in many areas. This is why the government asks asylum seekers if they're members of terrorist organizations. The point is to require you to be willing to do some unambiguously wrong and separately punishable if you want to try to get away with something more borderline and perhaps not punishable. Unprovably making up a vague offer is one thing, presenting a falsified document to obtain a financial benefit is the required escalation just like being a member of a group and lying about being a member of a group. May 28, 2023 at 22:28
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    @DavidSchwartz: "Believe me, this is real" is a lie, it is not fraud. If it were fraud, then every known lie would be an act of fraud. While you may personally define "fraud" this broadly (and I would mostly agree for informal usage, such as calling OP a fraud for doing this), the law most certainly does not see it that broadly. Maybe this is something for Law.SE to hash out whether it maintains enough of the spirit of fraud that the interpretation of the legislature can be made to include this, but I don't see it explicitly included in the current phrasing of the statute.
    – Flater
    May 31, 2023 at 4:35
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    @Flater Preparing a fake commercial document and presenting it as a real one to obtain a better price in a negotiation is a classic example of possessing a counterfeit document with intent to defraud. May 31, 2023 at 22:28
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Should I forward the letter by removing the personal/confidential details?

They also said they may want to know the details of the company when close to an arrangement.

By doing this in stages, they're trying to manipulate you and delay the process.

Don't give in. Be willing to walk away.

If you give them the details, they will burn you to the other company (see this real life example) and the other company will rightly put you on their "never-hire" list. Or they will try to delay the negotiation and the final paperwork until your alternative offer expires. And they may ultimately renege on their agreement with you since your leverage will have evaporated.

If you really want to play this right, you need to say something like:

"This letter is confidential and I just don't feel comfortable sharing it. You don't believe me, and that's fine. I don't need you to believe me."

Either they give what you want or they don't. You can't really control what they're going to choose. But the one thing you can do is behave as if you were impervious to their attempt to make you prove yourself to them. Because with a competitive offer from another company, even if they never see it, even if they don't believe it, it doesn't really matter. Deep down, you know that you're able to walk away.

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As noted in past answers, "I have a competing offer so raise my salary" is usually not good strategy. Many companies have specific procedures for merit-based pay (or at least scheduled pay adjustments) and evaluation of those as a management team, so your manager might not be able to do anything but promise to support your request at that time. And if you tell them you're looking elsewhere, their priority may be to find your replacement rather than to retain you.

Better approach: "According to what I've seen published, my salary is on the low end of the industry range for someone at my level. What can I do to help you convince upper management that I deserve a raise/promotion/whatever?" Request for a cooperative path, with at most an implication that someone might lure you away.

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    I'm not wholly convinced... Every time I've told a boss I'm leaving for more money, they've had a counteroffer on my desk within the working day. The "cooperative approach" usually leads to promises being made that are never fulfilled and the can being kicked down the line May 26, 2023 at 15:51
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    @ScottishTapWater: May be differences in country/company cultures. Glad that it has worked for you, but it's a "double or nothing" kind of bet that I wouldn't make unless I did, in fact, have an alternative waiting in the wings and had no particular attachment to my current job. Your mileage will vary; void where mandatory.
    – keshlam
    May 26, 2023 at 16:08
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    Well that's the key isn't it... Don't make threats that you're not happy to carry through with. This trick only works if you're genuinely happy to up-sticks and take the offer and are only leaving because money May 26, 2023 at 16:30
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    @keshlam Your comment isn't applicable to the OP's situation because they do, in fact, have an alternative waiting in the wings. So why suggest they trade a higher salary right now for a potential raise in the future?
    – DKNguyen
    May 26, 2023 at 16:46
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    There are costs either way.Point remains that unless they're already on their way out, saying "I've been offered" has risks.
    – keshlam
    May 26, 2023 at 21:07
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They said they can work with me to define the role and match the salary

You have to decide what to do if nothing changes except the salary, will you stay with the new company.

You have already told them you have one foot out the door. They know you interviewed. They know that somebody was willing to make you an offer. They know you are ready to take that offer.

The are many questions on this site about promises that the company didn't keep related to things such as training, work location, promotions... So many that you shouldn't count on things that take time to happen.

If they match the salary only will you stay? If yes show them the letter. If the answer is no, then don't show them the letter. If that means they don't match the salary, then you have your answer.

This dilemma is one more reason why requesting a counteroffer is problematic. Sometimes you risk the new job for no gain. Or you decline a good offer while telling your current company you will be leaving soon.

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    As for sharing the offer letter, if they are unwilling to negotiate a counter offer on the merits (your value to the company), I personally wouldn’t accept a counteroffer. Accepting a counteroffer is a mixed bag, it most certainly comes with caveats, like for instance not getting a bonus the same year as the raise.
    – Donald
    May 26, 2023 at 12:05
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    If they learn where the offer is for and they’re spiteful, they can call that company and lie, nuking that offer, then fire OP, and OP is out of a job without a ready alternative. Not saying it will happen, but is that really a risk to take? If they truly won’t give a raise without seeing confidential info, they aren’t worth trusting IMHO, and may be trying to bait OP into exactly the situation I described. So no, don’t show them the offer letter, ever.
    – bob
    May 27, 2023 at 17:29
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it's perfectly understandable why they want confirmation that you indeed have that offer. After all, they're being asked to match it or better, so you'd best be able to show them that you indeed have it.

It would indeed be a smart move to remove things like contact information and names of people in the letter, but if you're serious about wanting them to make you a counter offer you should work with them, not against them.

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  • Thank you, I am serious about working with them just don't feel comfortable sharing a confidential offer letter. If I send the letter removing all the information that could be traced, but if they ask me to tell them the company before they can offer to match salary and put a plan to develop my role, can they do that, if so would I be ok to say no as it's confidential and private conversation with me.
    – user140009
    May 26, 2023 at 8:34
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    This is totally bizarre. A confidential letter is ......... wait for it ......... confidential. You can't show it around (after " ' redacting ' " parts of it).
    – Fattie
    May 27, 2023 at 3:51
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    @Fattie no reason to believe such letters are "confidential". Even if someone stamps it as such, unless you're under an NDA with the sender it's not legally binding. And oh, anything I write is confidential and you're not allowed to repeat it.
    – jwenting
    May 27, 2023 at 4:33
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Think of it from their point of view. Alternatively, think of it if you were the boss and every employee demanded a raise because "I have an offer elsewhere".

Sure thing, bub.

You expect them to just take your word for it and give you a raise?

It would create a company culture where the people who sit quietly and do their job feel like fools because word would get around that the way to get raises and to get ahead is to play chicken with the management.

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  • If the company culture was one where employees were paid enough not to feel compelled to search elsewhere, brinkmanship with offers (real or fictional) would not be an issue. "I have an offer elsewhere" -> "Great! Happy for you. Been a pleasure working with you, best wishes for your future career" May 28, 2023 at 22:53
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As a supplementary answer to Fattie's answer, regarding "future unemployability" (and in part addressing this comment):

Where would this be recorded and shared with people who would employ you?

in case there is any doubt as to whether news of your sharing a confidential letter either as a whole or in part (i.e. redacted) would get out... bored people in offices/workplaces talk... a lot!

First, around your immediate locale/site

So, just from standing around the water cooler, it is likely after a while you would be known for having shared a confidential letter from a prospective employee, and even the contents of that letter may become common knowledge:

Hey, did you hear that person X got offered 10 Escudos more per hour by company Y?

Second, beyond your workplace

Then, take into account, that news can casually spread further than the immediate locale/site because friends/colleagues/acquaintances across sites talk - for example, in the pub at lunch, when entertaining cross-site (including multi-national) staff members, external third parties, and other visitors. People often see little harm in sharing details like these, with others who aren't immediately associated with the person concerned. Sharing details like these can be seen to help create an intimacy that build external working relationships, and may even help close a deal.

By now, your sharing of a confidential letter has become common casual knowledge, even though it still seems like harmless banter/gossip, and may not seem all that problematic.

Third, at job application time

The problem comes when you apply for a related job elsewhere and the immediate hiring team - not the HR team but the technical team members who are conducting the technical aspects of the interview (the people that you will end up working with and who (usually) have a major vote in your eventual hiring) - contact their friends from other sites and companies (that could be miles away or even in a different country) and ask

Hey, you worked with, or closely with, or with a team that included person X. What are they like?

To which the response could be one of these three:

  • Awful, avoid them like the plague
  • Amazing, hire them immediately
  • Ok, but let me tell you a story about them sharing a confidential letter...

You think this is unlikely? Trust me, this happens a lot.

Now, indeed, this may not make you unemployable, but, regardless of whether it does or does not, do you want to be known as the person in this story?

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    Nice answer, by spelling out how it can happen, without exaggerations and absolutes, this is helpful. May 30, 2023 at 11:46
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It doesn't matter how much you make elsewhere. What matters is how much salary you want to work for the new company, and whether they want to pay that amount.

My salary at my old company is between me and them. Even if I told the new company, it wouldn't affect how much I want to get paid.

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    I think you misread the question.
    – WBT
    May 26, 2023 at 13:54
  • I think @WBT is right... OP is currently working with a company (A), but received offer from another (B). Then company A asked OP to show the letter B offered them to match salary. It's not like OP is job-hunting or without a job at the moment.
    – DarkCygnus
    May 26, 2023 at 19:12
  • No, Gnasher is right.
    – Fattie
    May 27, 2023 at 3:51
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    @Fattie So your answer is wrong then? As it says the exact reverse, that the old company is crazy for thinking that the OP will show them the offer letter at the new company. Whereas Gnasher729 is saying that the new company doesn't need to know how much the old company is paying. Note: no one is claiming that the OP should show any salary to anyone. Not the current salary to the potential new company nor the potential new salary to the current company. That's not what people are saying is wrong, only the details. This answer is non-responsive to the question asked.
    – mdfst13
    May 28, 2023 at 18:49
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can they cross check the offer with the other companies?

Well they can ask...

But it would be highly unprofessional of the other company to give out this information, and very unlikely they would do it.

I suppose they could say what their standard starting salary for someone with X years of experience is, but should not confirm that that is what they offered you.

You don't say where you are, but I'd be very surprised if this wasn't the same in any culture.

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Your pay at your current company is a negotiation between you and your company. What another company offers is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how much value your current employer considers you to bring in to them, as measured by how much they compensate you for it. Your company has already shared their current assessment of that number: it's called your salary.

The only possible reason why your company would want to see your new offer letter is to know how much to counteroffer. In other words, they already know you're worth more than they're paying you, but they want to know the minimum they can counteroffer to make you consider staying. They already lowballed you once—that's what brought you to the market—and now they want to lowball you again. (Note to company leadership anywhere: this is not a winning strategy for retaining the talent you've invested in.)

Consider also that whatever grievances you had with your current employer won't go away if you decide to stay.


All this said, I made this mistake in the recent past and ended up in a company that was a bad fit. Especially when you say that you "love your job here" and that the new offer is "only slightly more salary": if you're living comfortably and you're working comfortably, that's no small thing. That's worth a lot of money. Embracing change and having a sense of adventure are important in life, but don't throw away something great in pursuit of a number.

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Should I forward the letter by removing the personal/confidential details?

Here's a two-letter answer.

"No".

You might as well be asking "Would my wife mind if I had intercourse with another woman?"

The idea of asking to see a letter - any letter - from any other company, is so far beyond the pale it's just completely absurd.

If you ever took part in such a bizarre situation, you'd be marked for life as unemployable, totally unprofessional.

The company you currently work for is "psycho", and you should walk away today.

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    How exactly would you be " marked for life as unemployable" ? Where would this be recorded and shared with people who would employ you? May 27, 2023 at 6:19
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    @mattfreake - You would be surprised. See this supplementary answer May 27, 2023 at 6:53
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    Can the information leak out? Yes. Does it always leak out enough to the majority of potential employers for the rest of your lifetime as "marked for life as unemployable" says? No May 27, 2023 at 7:46
  • @mattfreake The info may or may not leak out in every case. It depends. But, you don't want to take the risk. Once it leaks out, it can leak out to many companies, just like covid virus. By that time, OP's employability would be close to zero. Unless the OP wants to stay with the current company, I agree with this answer.
    – Nobody
    May 28, 2023 at 9:36
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    @Fattie Is your wife single?
    – breversa
    May 29, 2023 at 11:17

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