I got a call from a recruiter from another firm and they gave me a tentative offer that is overall better than my current job. The company was looking for somebody with my skill set and they were quite eager to proceed to the next phase (face to face interview). However, I decided to stay with current company before going to the next phase, because I don't want to go through learning and getting-to-know phase again and prefer the known good before the possibly better.

We are a small company without any HR department and very flat hierarchy. I work as a senior specialist (~ 10 years experience) in a relatively small domain. I have been in the company for about a year, but in my field it doesn't really matter who you work for, because the work is always the same. I work with my superior quite often and we engage in small talk as well. Should I mention it to them? Is there any harm or benefit in that?

I also asked for a tiny benefit before the recruiter contacted me. Everybody was OK with it, but things are moving a bit slowly (if at all). I wonder whether telling my boss about the recruiter's interest might expedite my request or sound like pushing instead.

EDIT: It seems that people tend to answer a different question. It's not about bluffing. It would not be wise to ask for something based on having an offer that I don't have. But I don't have it, because it was my decision. That is what I wanted to tell my superior, that I have decided not to pursue this opportunity.

2nd EDIT: Thanks everyone. I accepted the most up-voted answer, because it is the most likely scenario. It's a thin ice situation with high risk (supervisor might not understand it) and minimum gain. But I have decided to give the bounty to the answer that deals with the complete opposite and also likely scenario. In conclusion, it seems that loyalty will be either questioned or used against me.

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    By asking the question, itappears you're expecting something beneficial to come from it. What are you hoping to see? Just a hurry up in receiving your new benefit? or are you hoping for more, maybe along the lines of a pay hike and lots of praise?
    – Kent A.
    Aug 3, 2015 at 12:25
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    Outside of mentioning this directly, you now better appreciate what the market will pay for your skills. That is a legitimate point for future pay reviews. Aug 3, 2015 at 14:14
  • @dotancohen point is kinda funny, but it fits like a cat in a box - telling will have serious consequences - be it because they viewed it in a good POV, like SJuan76 answer, or in a bad point of view, like Joe Strazzere answer.
    – Hugo Rocha
    Aug 3, 2015 at 15:11
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    Was the call from the recruiter unsolicited? It's not clear from your question whether you were called because you had taken actions indicating your openness to be recruited (posted a resume or created/updated LinkedIn profile), or if you were specifically targeted by the recruiter. This is an important detail from which to frame a good answer. Aug 3, 2015 at 16:31
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    @dotancohen Oddly enough, my gf and I do tell each other when that happens; it's often a funny story. But I still agree with your point, since I don't trust my employer nearly as much as my gf.
    – Ixrec
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:14

8 Answers 8


Bottom line up front:

You don't have an offer. Telling them anything about the invitation to be interviewed has no benefits for you. It tells your current employer there is some interest in leaving. Maybe not enough yet, but there is some interest. You are telling them that you think there are better deals out there but aren't ready to move. Now you have successfully planted seeds of doubt in your employers mind.

If somebody has a written offer in hand from a new company, many want to tell their current company to see if they can get at least a matched offer to stay where they are. They are willing to risk this because they know without a change from the old company they will be moving. But the real risk is hidden. They are telling their current company I am thinking of leaving, therefore don't trust me with that new project because I could decide to put in my notice at any time. I have seen it many times. The person who is persuaded to stay, ends up leaving with the next 12 months. Companies know this, they sometimes deliver on only some of their promises, but immediately start the plan to replace you.

When you have a "call from a recruiter from another firm and they gave me a tentative offer... looking for somebody with my skill set and they were quite eager to proceed to the next phase (face to face interview)." They have promised nothing in writing and you might not even get an offer. Even if you had not told them you were not interested, you have nothing to fall back on if you tell your current employer. The current company could show you the door, or decide to not give you the benefit you were expecting. They know you are looking to leave.

If you have no offer in hand because you either: made a decision to not proceed, or the new company made a decision to not proceed; you are taking a risk by telling the current company. They might give you what you want. But they might decide you are already one step out the door. You will not be able to give an ultimatum, because if they call your bluff your only choice is to quit without having another job, or backing down.

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    A tentative offer is not worth a lot. The only type of offer that is worth anything are the written ones which you can legally act upon.
    – tehnyit
    Aug 3, 2015 at 11:28
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    @Mr.Mascaro: Though true. Companies that did that a lot would get a bad reputation and people would stop trying to work for them. Aug 3, 2015 at 16:19
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    @JeffO, you're going to have to show references for both of your assertions because I know several fortune 500 companies that do this quite regularly and they've not suffered any legal headaches from it. Most states are at-will employment states and the rest still offer loop holes that you could sail a cruise ship through such as some information in your background could not be verified, they tried to contact you and you didn't respond in a timely manner(completely arbitrary), etc. And no state in America requires an employer to show cause to fire you unless you are in a protected class. Aug 3, 2015 at 17:15
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    Maybe only delivering on some of their promises is the reason why the employee leaves within the next year.
    – kasperd
    Aug 3, 2015 at 19:07
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    @jwenting Thats certainly not how it works in Britain
    – Dan
    Aug 4, 2015 at 7:22

Should I mention it to them? Is there any harm or benefit in that?

No, I wouldn't mention anything to your current employer.

You didn't actually get an offer. "Tentative" means only that the hiring company was willing to go to the face-to-face stage with you. That doesn't mean you would get the job. And that doesn't mean you would have taken it (in fact, you didn't - the detriments outweighed the benefits in your case). In truth - if you don't have an offer in hand that you are willing to accept, it doesn't matter why you don't have the offer, you still don't have one. The fact that you decided not to pursue it isn't relevant - you end up in the same state.

So if you did actually mention it to your employer, you may be sending the signal "I have been here for 1 year, but I am looking elsewhere". That wouldn't be the signal I'd want to send if I really did value the "known good".

You would likely put your boss on alert. It's possible that could be a good thing "We have to keep Waaw happy. Let's throw the benefit his/her way." But it's also quite possible that the thinking would be "We'd better not give Waaw any important projects to do. He/she may be leaving us soon anyway." That wouldn't be good for your career.

The few times someone on my past teams told me they got an offer elsewhere (and tried to leverage it into a bigger raise in my cases), it didn't end well. Just because another company valued them, it didn't change their value to my company at all. I gave them only the raises they deserved - both of them ended up leaving anyway.

If you were a highly recruited senior executive with a bunch of tenure whose annual salary and bonus were determined by a compensation committee the answer might be different. But with only 1 year tenure in this position, in a non-executive position, you don't have a ton of leverage. Playing the "I'm looking elsewhere - so what are you going to do for me?" game is a bit risky in your situation. Saying something like "I got a tentative offer, but I decided not to pursue it" doesn't change anything for the better.

  • 10 years experience, not 1 year, according to the OP.
    – mkennedy
    Aug 3, 2015 at 23:33
  • Same as the most up-voted answer, I have DECLINED any potential offers. That's the message I wanted to get through.
    – Waaaw
    Aug 7, 2015 at 8:45

To add another POV to the already existing answers...

Even if your boss understand your comment as a gesture of loyalty, that would also decrease your bargaining position.

For example, let's say you tell your boss:

I rejected a $ 10.000 raise to stay working with this company

The last thing your boss will think is "Hey, how nice of Waaam. Lets raise his salary $ 5.000".

Most likely, he will think "Waaam values staying here in more than $ 10.000; it is unlikely that somebody will offer him $ 15.000 more, so we are sure he will stay with us. The next time I have $ 5.000 for raises I will increase Ted's salary, because maybe Ted is more money-oriented and would consider leaving us if he finds a better offer".

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    or more likely "hmm, that guy's unreliable. Best start looking for a replacement and find a way to push him out, reassigning him to that dead end project that's constantly pestering me for people would be a good idea".
    – jwenting
    Aug 4, 2015 at 6:06
  • This is one of the few answers that deals with the scenario described. It's not "another POV".
    – Waaaw
    Aug 9, 2015 at 0:36

Short answer: Don't mention it to your boss.

If you intend to stay, I wouldn't mention it. Only raise it if its a bluff you are happy to get called. Even though you have no intention of leaving, it would place you in the "risk" category and your boss would likely be a little cautious.

Given that the other job didn't get to the offer stage, just follow up with your boss about the promised conditions and leave it at that.

  • I agree. Saying that you have an offer from another place would trigger your boss to start looking for a replacement rather than attempting to keep you.
    – Dan
    Aug 3, 2015 at 19:03

I would take a different approach to most of the answers listed here. I would tell my boss, not because the offer was better in the hopes that it will be matched, but to warn him that company X is attempting to poach his staff. If they get too many senior people, your company goes under. You can expect to be asked why you choose to stay and I would recommend that you think carefully about how you answer.

  • In some fields with a lot of competition or specialization that's definitely a big concern. The trick is saying it carefully so that it doesn't sound like a brag or a threat, and should only be done if you think you'll actually get value out of it.
    – thanby
    Aug 4, 2015 at 11:40
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    This great approach will work only in some situations. Even if the poaching concern might happen to be a big one, this is not a conversation to be rushed, accidentally interrupted, or widely overheard. The topic is worth scheduling a 1-1 lunch even if you want to devote only a few minutes of the lunch to this topic and avoid making it sound like a big deal in any way, just to avoid any misunderstandings. It also assumes some degree of mutual pre-existing trust between you and your manager and your own very solid position within your company. Aug 4, 2015 at 17:01

There's another way to put this in front of your boss (assuming these are your actual intentions):

I believe my market value went up since the last time we reviewed my salary. I shopped around and went on a few interviews to confirm that. However, I enjoy working for a company X, and I wanted to discuss a possibility of a raise.

Of course, you should only do this if you believe yourself to be a top performer at your current position.

  • I have, in the past, looked at the current market rates for my skillset before a review. Then, during the review when presented with a smallish raise said “Well, I could be on £x more if I did decide to move company, but that would require a longer commute and I value the working culture here”. The next morning I had an increased raise in my inbox. Aug 4, 2015 at 15:10
  • But I did not shop around, I was contacted by the recruiter. I am not actively doing anything else than refusing the offers.
    – Waaaw
    Aug 9, 2015 at 0:38
  • @Waaaw, I still think it's worth bringing up your increased marking value and your desire to stay if you are paid what your worth. Aug 10, 2015 at 5:35

Based on edits:

I wanted to tell my superior, that I have decided not to pursue this opportunity. Is there any harm in telling my supervisor? Can I gain anything?

What possible purpose is there to tell your supervisor you are not going to pursue an opportunity the supervisor was not aware of in the first place?

Right now your supervisor considers you a loyal employee. Telling them you declined an offer is only gong to make them question it. They are certainly not going to consider you a more loyal employee. It would come off a veiled threat in my mind.

If my wive told me she did not have a ring on when she went to the park for run and a guy asked her out and but she said no do you think I would find that comforting. I would be like why do you need to tell me that. If a girl flirted with me at the park and I did not ask her out do you think me telling my wife that would comfort her? Her thought would be why were you even approachable? Have you asked other girls out?


I relished the comments but as 'Employee's Loyalty' is getting a hammering in these down trending days, I thought of agreeing with Brian's POV. There are always 2 sides so let's review this once more.

A dragging 'delay: a small company without HR can move swiftly and so it appears that your management has cost reductions in mind. So your 'next phase' is not so likely to happen here.

And a face-to-face interview could at the minimum be termed as 'window shopping', so why pass it up? Personally, I joined firms when I met inspiring people during the interviews; and no regrets yet, although HR pulled back on some of the benefits ;)

I do agree with the members that negotiating a raise based on other offers carries big risks (i used to think it as 'dirty'), but in a smaller partnership firm, where one is leveraging to get what was 'already agreed upon' - would be considered as 'normal business'. In fact, your employers may view you with increased respect and not just for your abilities.

[quote] Do you tell your wife / girlfriend about every woman who shows a passing interest in you? Same thing. – dotancohen [/quote]

What if my date is with a super star? It's time my wife started giving me some respect, huh?

Seriously, go for the obvious; the interview first as it increases your credibility; before you make the play.

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    what is "Brian's POV" you refer to? I checked all the answers and comments here and couldn't find it
    – gnat
    Aug 4, 2015 at 4:52

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