I'm a software engineer and have been working for my current employer for a pretty long while. During this time I have always been a top performer in the teams I have worked in which was well-recognized by both my direct managers and the senior management of the company. Despite of this my salary has always been significantly lower than the market levels for my experience/skills which was due to the fact that I started at a very low salary (intern level) and never negotiated raises (but I was given few 5-10% ones) until a few months ago when I managed to negotiate about 50% increase. I interviewed at other companies in the past few months and I had an offer for an additional 25-30% salary increase, but turned it down for personal reasons. I am pretty sure that if I talk with my boss I can negotiate this 25% increase at my current company as well, but I have been there for way too long and don't see any perspective for future development, so I will most probably continue searching for another job even if I get an increase.

I was wondering - does it make sense to ask for an increase and continue looking for a new job nevertheless? I am pretty indecisive about switching jobs (i.e. I haven't been interviewing for about 2 months now, although I am absolutely dissatisfied with my current position) so it may take another 1-2-3 months before I start a new job and I won't refuse to take a salary, adequate for my skills during this time, but will it look bad if I get an increase and quit a month later? On the one hand my employer has been paying me ridiculous salaries years on row, but on the other I don't want to burn bridges (basically for the time being my employer loves me, since they made hundreads of thousands due to my naivety)

  • My starting salary was extremely low for the profession (basically I could be making the same amount of money working a job that does not require any qualification/education) so the increases didn't really make it that large anyway.
    – John Smith
    Mar 14, 2016 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


I would consider it bad faith to ask for a raise if you know you are about to leave. If you are on the fence, and a raise is the difference between leaving and staying, then it is not uncommon to try to leverage an offer to a raise. But if you know you are leaving regardless, then IMHO it makes sense to leave on good terms.

  • On the one hand I totally agree with you, on the other - if I get this raise I will only be getting what everyone else at the company is already making and I don't know how soon I will find a new job so it is probable that I stay for another 2-3 months. Currently I'm in a terrible position where my payment is much below market level (despite the raise I already got) and even below the salary level at my company (and that's actually always been the case but I started paying attention to it only recently).
    – John Smith
    Mar 14, 2016 at 22:51
  • FYI - Long term employees are almost always below market rates. This generally means you are going to be making less than new hires at your same level at your company.
    – Dunk
    Mar 16, 2016 at 21:47

Wether it's fair or not, future employers will ask for your current salary. Having a competitive salary now will help you then.

Just be aware that you will be burning some serious bridges here. Your management likely had to do a lot to get you that 50% and getting even more then leaving will leave them feeling burned.

At the end of the day though, it is your career and you have to watch out for yourself.

  • The OP was asking if it was in bad taste to request an additional 25% increase to leverage in a salary negotiation with a different company. I think it would be. He would be better off negotiating that increase in his new position and that way would not have to burn bridges with his current employer.
    – Bronco
    May 9, 2017 at 17:54
  • @Bronco I would agree with what you said, I may have misread the question. It is only in very rare situations where it is a problem making too much. May 9, 2017 at 17:56

It sounds like you're having trouble assessing your real worth. It's definitely worth investing your time in understanding what your market value really is, since you apparently just negotiated a bad deal for yourself. You can only go back to the well, so to speak, so many times. Consider your 6 possibilities:

  • you ask for more, you get more, you stay: win, but you're now a crank
  • you ask for more, you don't get more, you stay: lose, raises will be harder to come by in the future
  • you ask for more, you get more, you leave: win, you have more and you have a higher "previous salary" to negotiate your next job
  • you ask for more, you don't get more, you leave: win, you showed that salary was an issue
  • you don't ask for more, you don't get more, you stay: lose, you're leaving money on the table
  • you don't ask for more, you don't get more, you leave: win, you get more elsewhere

If you do ask, you lose in a quarter of the cases. If you don't ask, you lose half the time. But if you know you're going to leave, you win either way by asking. So why not find something interesting, and ask for a counter-offer before the deal closes?

  • There is a very limited number of times you can do this--because no one wants to deal with an employee who renegotiates salary every few months. If you get a new position at a higher rate, then yes, you can ask for counter from your old company--but keep in mind that you won't get a raise in the next cycle, and maybe another after that, and you may lose out on any bonus/stock options/other goodies the company offers. Be prepared to leave if they say no.
    – jimm101
    Mar 14, 2016 at 21:53
  • Yep, thanks - I definitely won't ask for a counter offer. But I have talked with guys who are at my level/role at the company and I'm pretty sure that they are getting exactly my salary + 20-25%, so basically I won't be asking for anything more than what everyone else is paid and this seems totally fair to me.
    – John Smith
    Mar 14, 2016 at 22:06

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