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I'm happy working for my current employer and I'm paid relatively well. Recently I decided to interview at another company, the process went very well and knowing that I'm not actively looking for jobs, they offered me a pretty handsome salary and a bigger role to persuade me to join them. There are circumstances that will make switching jobs hard for me at the moment, so generally I plan to reject the offer and stay at my current employer. However, discussing the offer with my manager can potentially gain me a bigger pay and a bigger role at my current company. What are the ways this can backfire, and should I do this in the first place? If yes - then how to approach this discussion better?

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    Pretty sure this has been asked a few times before, and the answer has always been that it's a terrible idea – HorusKol Sep 6 '16 at 7:31
  • So the other company offers you a higher salary with a higher position. You cannot expect your current company to pay that much for the lower role. And if they cannot offer a promotion, they won't pay you more. Also, every company has a different sence of what someone is worth. – daraos Sep 6 '16 at 7:52
  • @JoeStrazzere - obviously everyone has different reasons, but personally, if offered an interview at, say, Google or StackExchange, I would be tickled pink and would strongly consider participating just for the experience and enjoyment (as well as networking and long term career opportunity). Especially since the OP stated that they did so ethically by letting the interviewer know they are not actively looking. – user13655 Sep 6 '16 at 15:17
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Personally, as a manager, I dislike it when people do what you propose. It sounds a bit like blackmailing.

It also hurts the trust I built toward that person. Why was someone going to an interview in the first place if he really has no intention to change jobs? To find out his or her market value? Or is there somewhere a bit of unhappiness? What happens if I do not respond accordingly?

I might start looking myself for a replacement or addition, and even if not, I will probably feel a bit more unease assigning you important work.

It might be much healthier to just talk about the work you did and the value you add to the company, and whether that would account for a raise. Tell them that you would like to take on a bigger role, even more responsibility, and how happy you are with the company.

Now, if the company or your boss is reluctant and just has no ear for you, you might start talking about the offer. But be prepared that you might get the opportunity to accept the other job because of this. Because if your boss does not follow up on your question, it might just be that for any reason - not even personal - they are looking into downsizing or letting some people/you go. Just give your boss enough time to come up with an answer. He will have to do some calculations and ask some other people up the line.

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    Salary never reflected what an employee can do for a company. Salary is a expectation of another employer of what an employee can do for them. It is market value of the employee. When you buy an apple at the supermarket, does it cost 1$ because it's so healthy for you? It costs 1$, because other apples cost about the same, and there are alternatives. Now, how can you prove your market value without an offer at hand? There are so-called blue-book figures about average market value of roles/experience. Managers know well who is underpaid and how. You pocketed the money. It backfired. Simple. – Neolisk Sep 6 '16 at 11:43
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    No offense my friend, but if your employees can't trust you to pay them their worth it's not very fair of you to say that they've violated your trust by seeking offers that value them at a fair salary. – C Bauer Sep 6 '16 at 12:33
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    @CBauer: Of course, if I know that my company is below market salary wise, it is hard to talk about trust in the first place. But just because somebody else is willing to pay more does not mean that I pay too little. Maybe the other company just is in greater need. – Ralph Rickenbach Sep 6 '16 at 12:37
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    Isn't the art of negotiation just civilized blackmail anyway though? – corsiKa Sep 6 '16 at 13:53
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    as a manager, I dislike it when people do what you propose this is not a surprise. Every manager dislikes this, because his life out of a sudden becomes harder. Now you actually have a hard decision in front of you. Should you increase the salary or find another person. And in order to have less amount of such decisions it is important to recognize employers who do work and are good candidates to be hired in many other places. – Salvador Dali Sep 6 '16 at 21:55
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Bottom-line is : only do it if you are ready to leave.

They may answer yes, give you a raise. However, this action will be likely perceived as a trick of yours, or blackmailing. You may still want to do it, but just understand that you may destroy all trust of you managers in you, and as Ralph Rickenbach pointed out, they may (that's what I'd do) start looking for a replacement, since they will think you can resign anytime if offered more money.

They may also tell you that they can't pay you that much. In that case, you need to accept the other offer. Otherwise, you'll look like a fool and you will have succeeded in sabotaging your career plans.

  • For what it's worth, I would prefer to just share the fact that I was headhunted with my manager as I would with any other co-worker -- as a point of interest -- with no "therefore..." attached to it. They can figure out for themselves that the next cold call may be harder for me to resist. Admittedly, I'm one of those not primarily motivated by salary; a raise is more important to me as "we value your contribution this much" than as sending money. – keshlam Sep 6 '16 at 14:21
  • Agreed. What you are describing is not "asking for a raise". That could be something to mention in an annual review... It always boils down to the relatioship you have with your manager, and the way of phrasing the offer. You definitely don't want to be seen as "requesting" a raise. But discussing it without putting pressure on the manager may be OK. – Puzzled Sep 6 '16 at 14:36
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Of course you should. Your market values is apparently higher than your current salary, and you should capitalize on this.

I've been solicited a few times, and I've used it to go to my boss to get a substantial wage increase. What you need to figure out is, if you want to use this as a wage bump.

Book a meeting with your boss, tell him you've been made an offer to join another company, with X pay and Y responsibilities. Try to be descriptive and neutral. Tell him that you're happy here, but you're going to need an increase to put your wage close to this.

Don't make it personal, and be ready to take the position if nothing comes of it.

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    Generally speaking this is not good advice. If one decides to leave and likes a tendered offer you should simply give your notice to leave. On the other hand if you want to stay then just keep quiet about the offer. The only case that may make sense is when you have given your notice and intend to leave sometimes the company management may counter offer in an attempt to get you to stay. I still feel that you should stick to your guns and leave but there could be some circumstances where you may accept a counter offer. The key is that they initiated the negotiation, not you. – Michael Karas Feb 25 '18 at 21:47

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