So I got a job offer that gives 20k more on the same role that I have now, in a different company.

However, I kind of like working where I am now. I'm thinking of letting my boss know of my resignation, while adding to it the possible conditions where I might stay, which in my case, is a salary increase and a role promotion.

Is it bad etiquette and should I let my boss make his own offer, if any?

To give relativity to the $20k raise, I am in the < $100,000 salary bracket so $20k is pretty significant.

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    Read this first: When does accepting a counteroffer make sense?. Interviewing and getting an offer just to get a counter from your current company is a very disrespectful thing to do by the way, both to that company and to the other candidates for that position.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 25, 2015 at 17:28
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    Wait... 20K more ???!? Keep in mind, if you go there that'll be a new baseline .... Nov 25, 2015 at 17:47
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    Ask for a 20k raise before revealing anything. That's the only way to know the truth about your value. Your boss can make a counter offer of 20k after you resign, but you may only see a month of that pay before your boss finds your replacement.
    – mcknz
    Nov 25, 2015 at 17:52
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    If you like your current job, why did you look for a new one?
    – user70848
    Nov 26, 2015 at 2:11
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    @user70848 Well, for reference, I'm 21 and this if my first real job (not counting freelancing and internships), so there's that thought that I may be able to find a better job if I look hard enough. And second, a job advertised at 20K more than what you're currently offered with more or less the same responsibilities is hard to resist.
    – Zaenille
    Nov 26, 2015 at 2:52

5 Answers 5


It would be better to begin negotiating with your current boss without mentioning the other job offer. If it's successful, you will have gotten what you wanted without threatening your boss with leaving (and it inherently is a threat) and thus maintain the relationship.

If you can't negotiate an acceptable alternative to your other offer, then you can mention it (but don't say you're resigning, just say you're considering their offer.) If you do get what you want from your current boss, just be aware that this might sour your relationship a bit.

Finally, if none of the above are successful, then you can tell him you are resigning and see if he makes an offer to keep you. If you do reach this point, it may be wiser just to take the other job -- because the ultimatum will almost certainly strain your relationship with your current boss and potentially limit your advancement at the current employer.

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    I like this advice - agreed you don't want stomp your new offer down to your boss and give that implicit deadline/pressure. If you end up staying, I'll bet you'll get a little passive aggressive retribution somewhere up the road Nov 25, 2015 at 17:50
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    Agreed. imho, it is always better to talk to your current employer about anything you want changed prior to seeking employment elsewhere. If you want a raise, ask for it. If you want a better chair, ask for it. That is what reasonable people do. However, if you use threats of leaving to get your way then be prepared that it will bite you later on.
    – NotMe
    Nov 25, 2015 at 17:59
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    Note that there are ways to mention the counteroffer without straining your relationship with your boss. If you say "I prefer working here, but I can't just ignore a 20K salary increase." I'd say most bosses would understand, the limits to your loyalty.
    – Peter
    Nov 25, 2015 at 21:07
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    I don't see it as realistic to ask for a >20% raise and new role out of the blue. Why would any manager give in, except in the face of losing the employee? (Also, regardless of the employee's actual merits, it might be that the business does not value the employee that highly, so he'd be wise to leave.) Nov 26, 2015 at 11:14
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    @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun While it is true that 20% is quite a lot, maybe the OP would be happy with, say, 10% and a solid advancement plan in terms of both pay and work duties. While 10% is still quite a bit, something like that is a lot more achievable than 20%. Since OP is largely happy with their current job, there is a large unknown to taking a new one.
    – user
    Nov 26, 2015 at 14:35

You have a lot of good answers already, but I'd like to express a similar idea in a slightly different way.

1. Salary

Your salary is the representation of how much value you bring to your company.

If you're a salary employee making $50K a year, that means that your work translates into AT LEAST that much profit for your employer.

Why is it that we so rarely get substantial raises? Because your average employee's role typically remains pretty constant over the years. In other words, if they hire you to do payroll, you're probably going to still be doing payroll 5 years later. Why would you get more money for doing the same thing? It's silly.

2. Raises

Most companies will periodically give employees slight bumps in their pay -mostly to adjust for inflation. Unless you can prove that your actions - since your last raise/review - are now bringing more value to the company you have no valid reason to ask for a raise.

This is why the best way to get a raise (these days) is typically to jump ship, and find a different company that is willing to hire you into a role they value higher than your previous boss did you last one.

3. Your Situation

You've been offered a pay increased of $20K.

Assuming you're currently making $200, 000 (nice!), that's a 10% raise, which is pretty typical of the increase a job-change can/should bring about. A typical "periodic" raise is around 3%, so that's 3 year's worth of raises in one. No company is going to feel comfortable offering you that much money unless they are aware that they've been under-paying you, and are basically being forced to admit it. If, however, they considered your compensation quite fair, then a 10% raise "or else" is going to sound like highway robbery.

Assuming you're making $100, 000 (not bad at all), $20K is a 20% raise. That's pretty substantial, even for a job upgrade. Few companies are going to value any single employee enough - or have the budget - to counter-offer that sort of pay increase. Furthermore, even if they felt forced to do so, you'd probably be painting a target on your back as being over-payed. They'll be finding you a replacement pronto.

Assuming you make less than $100, 000 (like most of us out there), that's a HUGE RAISE. There is no way, in this universe, or some parallel one, that your company is going to reevaluate your compensation on that level.


Unless your paycheck is orders of magnitude higher than most people's, a $20K raise is not going to be matched by your current employer. Furthermore, if you somehow corner them into giving you that much money they're probably going to get rid of you sooner rather than later, as you'd become a drain on their resources.


Accept the offer. When you have the documents signed, go to your boss and hand in your letter of resignation. If they value your work they may very well attempt to counter the other company's offer. Most likely, their counter offer will either fall short of $20K, or not materialize at all. If that's the case simply leave with dignity and move on with your career.

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    I was actually in that position, except I hadn't started the job. I had just been back to college for a year to retrain from chemistry to chemical engineering. Employer A offered me 23K GBP. Employer B told me they were going to make an offer, but I went ahead and accepted employer A's offer, because employer B was 500 miles way. Employer B offered me 45K! I went back to employer A and asked for 35K (not the full 45K) but I didn't get it. 2 years later, employer B (a startup) left the country and by chance I ended up working at employer A (for 35K, somewhat ironically.) Nov 25, 2015 at 23:35
  • @steveverrill - ironic indeed. That must have been a blow.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 25, 2015 at 23:40
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    I can't say it was a blow. 45K GBP was a ridiculous salary back in those days, but the startup had money to burn and an awkward location. I have no regrets, except that I made a bad property investment with some of the money I saved. The ironic thing is I don't think the 2 years experience at the startup really made that much difference between the 23K employer A offered me initially and the 35K they finally hired me at. Nov 25, 2015 at 23:47
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    Yeah, I fit in the <$100,000 category as well, so a $20K raise is pretty sweet. Thanks for your answer. This is my favorite line : Furthermore, even if they felt forced to do so, you'd probably be painting a target on your back as being over-payed. They'll be finding you a replacement pronto.
    – Zaenille
    Nov 26, 2015 at 0:59
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    That last paragraph is gold! I was in this situation as well, and knew that my employer would never give me +20%. So I secured the new job and straight-up resigned from the old one. When they asked what it would take to keep me, I said +20% and they said they couldn't offer that. Plain and simple, no hard feelings. Nov 26, 2015 at 11:17

If he asks what it would take to keep you then yes tell him. Otherwise let them make a counter or not. In your resignation state you are leaving specifically for money and like your current job.

I would wait until you have a formal written offer before telling your boss.

And I like the answer from LindaJeange of starting with you have a job offer for more money that you are considering. But I would still wait until you have a formal written offer.

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    +1 on waiting. It sounds too much like extortion when you ask early. However, that said, if you are expecting a counter, make your resignation only to your boss, do not tell your coworkers. It makes it more difficult when you say you are leaving and then you don't. It puts management in a bad spot because now other people may try and extort management and create a hostile environment. Nov 25, 2015 at 17:12

Once you have a formal offer, you should let your boss know of the circumstances. Depending on your relationship with the boss, how much you want to stay and how good you feel about your bargaining position, you may mention your interest/desire to stay; you may mention it immediately or allow some time to pass before doing so.

If you don't mention it, sometimes bosses don't think to ask you if you want to stay. Sometimes they think you've already made up your mind to leave. Your boss may be overwhelmed with work and not handle this moment optimally. Or unhappy with the workplace and thinks you "should" leave. Or your boss may present the news up to higher management and they may already have in mind what to do with the news, expecting perhaps that you might leave.

Alternatively, if you present an offer and also say that you want to stay, you may lose some bargaining capacity with your current employer. They will become aware of their "advantage" (you actually want to stay) and maybe try to offer some of what you want, but less than if you had said nothing.

This is where negotiating from a position of self honesty comes in. You can't know which way to handle this. Before you walk in to tell your boss the situation, decide what you think is the best approach/terms. After you make a decision and things play out, you need to be sure you feel you did your best to handle it, regardless of what "might have happened" had you taken a different course of action. And just like crossing the street, timing is everything...


A 20k pay raise is going to be a tough sell no matter how good you are. Unless you are severely underpaid from everyone else, I don't think you should hope on much.

Most likely your boss will ask why you are leaving and all that. From there you can say you are leaving because of the low pay and if he asks what it'll take, I wouldn't show him the other company's offer. Instead I would say, "It'll take X dollars to keep me here." Chances are though he'll just let you go and accept your resignation. No matter how highly we think of ourselves no company should depend on a single point of failure.

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    I think this is a little non-sequitur. I'm not sure how single point of failure came into the conversation. Nov 25, 2015 at 17:48
  • @WesleyLong - Well, the reality is that quite often there are "single point of failures" , especially in smaller firms. Nov 25, 2015 at 17:48
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    @Adel - No one is disputing that. I am asking Dan to clarify how it is germane to this conversation. Nov 25, 2015 at 17:50
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    On the note that you would say "It'll take X dollars to keep me here." ... no, it's better to simply say "Please give me a competitive offer, and I'll consider it." Of course, you should jump ship anyway, but ... hey, ya never know : - D Nov 25, 2015 at 17:53
  • 20K is only a tough sell if it's a large percentage of the OP's income. That's not clear. Nov 25, 2015 at 19:32

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