I work for Tech Firm A, and was recently contacted by Tech Firm B. Firm B has made me a fairly nice offer. I was planning to accept it, even though it means moving.

My plan had been to accept and make sure everything was settled before informing my manager at Firm A. However, the recruiter made a definite point of telling me to inform her of any other offers I received, which makes me think that perhaps I should tell my current manager about Firm B, in the hopes that Firm A makes a counteroffer. Which I could then present to the recruiter for Firm B, in hopes that they'd up their original offer.

I suppose my current manager could just fire me on the spot (unlikely; he's a good guy), in which case I would have to drastically advance my plans. But are there any other possible downsides to this scenario? Also, is there any sort of reasonable chance that this could lead to a higher salary offer from Firm B?

Both firms are extremely large and well-known. Firm B has given me until Friday to decide, so I don't have a whole lot of time for figuring this out.

  • 1
    "the recruiter made a definite point of telling me to inform her of any other offers I received" You misunderstood her intentions. See: Recruiters asking about where you are in your job search
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:18
  • Lilienthal - while it's certainly possible that I misunderstood the recruiter's intentions, I don't think the linked question applies. In my case, I have a formal offer from Firm B. Also, I had already told the recruiter that I hadn't yet received any offers.
    – Gretchen
    Jun 21, 2016 at 14:30
  • Just tell your boss that you're feeling underpaid and ask whether there's a possibility of a pay rise. Don't mention any other job, don't make any threats. You'll probably get given the run-around or some derisory increase promised for next year. In that case you can join B. In the unlikely scenario that A gives you a decent rise then I'd definitely reconsider leaving as they appreciate you. Jun 21, 2016 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


Playing two parties against each other carries the risks others mention.

Whether that risk is worth taking, could depend on what the reasonably likely upside would be. If both parties seem quite budget-constrained and your upside is probably only within the single-digit percentages, it seems the downside risks outweigh the upside.

I would think the only way one could pull this off successfully without antagonizing your current employer, would be if they acknowledge that you are an absolute rock star that has been massively underpaid for quite some time.

The fact that the recruiter wants to be told of any other offers is a reflection of you having the best hand. If unexpected things happen, your leverage will disappear quite quickly, thus turning the tables. In addition, even though your boss is a good guy, I have more than once been surprised at how resignations have been (mis-) handled when professionals all of a sudden take things very personally.

Bottom line: If you are basically happy with the FirmB offer, take that and then quit.


I am of the opinion that playing one against the other may leave you with no job at all - or a job where they know that they have employed you because of duress.

I am also of the opinion that people should work not just for the money. Money is a good reason for working but there should be other factors - such as enjoyment of the working environment, job satisfaction, etc.

If you have looked for work elsewhere, I think this is not solely due to money. I think it is wise that when you have made a decision to move on then stick with it. Whatever the reasons for looking for work elsewhere will raise their head again in the near future.


Accepting a counter offer is generally believed to be a bad idea. After having found an offer from another company, you are a marked person. You will be out rather sooner than later. If this is the USA, there have been people accepting a counter offer and getting fired two weeks later (just because the employer was an ***hole, but it happens).

Now asking for a counter counter offer, that is bad. You got an offer, presumably because you made a good impression in an interview, you seemed capable and enthusiastic, and because you are worth what they offered you. Looking for a higher offer from them destroys that good impression. It's very unlikely to lead to a higher offer. It could lead to #2 on their list to get an unexected offer.

  • So, I do appreciate your advice, but I'm a bit confused by your claim that looking for a higher offer destroys a good impression. Don't people negotiate salaries all the time? There are thousands of google hits for "negotiating salary job offer"
    – Gretchen
    Jun 22, 2016 at 0:12

So essentially, you are trying to play with fire here and "cheat" a firm into giving you a higher salary, correct? I would strongly recommend you do NOT try to play games, it WILL backfire on you and cost you dearly. Your best bet is to do either of the following:

  1. Stay with Firm A and decline Firm B's offer; though this begs the question of why you are even looking unless you just do not like Firm B's offer, though you will have wasted that Firm's time which is highly toxic (Firm B could blacklist you or let others in the industry know you wasted their company's time...networking is a double-edged sword).
  2. Accept Firm B's offer and leave Firm A; never play the counter offer game, YOU will lose from every angle. Negotiating is something to do without "empty" threats. If you want a higher salary (or XYZ) then negotiate for it without informing Firm A (this way if the Firm B falls through, you have Firm A to fall back on and they do not know you are looking).

The reason you will lose in a counter offer situation (or counter counter offer) is because once Firm A knows you are looking, your life and job are about to become 10x harder as they will dump any meaningless or grunt level task on you. Firm B knows this as well (since it is common knowledge essentially), so they could retract their offer and say "We cannot compete with XYZ's offer, sorry". So you lose either way. The counter offer game is just a gimmick that will burn you and not either company. I would accept or decline the offer and not play a game with either firm.

  • So I'm not sure I would consider this "cheating". My thought was that if I was important enough to Firm A that they would consider a counter-offer, that that might be information that would cause Firm B to reconsider their offer. However, I do take your other points.
    – Gretchen
    Jun 21, 2016 at 14:24
  • @Gretchen when I said "cheating" I meant that you would tell a firm (Firm B) you have a counter offer when you really did not. Which I think is what you meant. Bottom line, the best options for you & the offer are: either accept the offer or negotiate head on for a better offer without any counter offers one way or another. Because if Firm B will not give you what you want then you at least know you did not jeopardize your standing with Firm A and can still look while having a job that is not beyond awful.
    – G.T.D.
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:36
  • @Joe Strazzere it WILL backfire, there is no doubt about it, this kind of game is a red alert to any HR department, and, as gnasher729 explained here it wont have a positive effect in the recruiter either. Jun 21, 2016 at 18:15
  • @B1313 I certainly never meant to imply that I would fake a counter offer. I would only have told Firm B about a valid counteroffer from Firm A. All parties would be told the truth.
    – Gretchen
    Jun 22, 2016 at 0:04

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