I'm working for a startup (~20 employees) for exactly 1 year and 1 month. In total, I have about 1 year and 7 months of experience.

I like working for this company, even though sometimes it's pretty stressful. Anyway, I did a perfect job during the last year, and it got recognized during the appraisal of 20 days ago. The director and the CTO gave me very good "grades" and they told me that they really like to work with me, and they didn't expect that I would be so impactful and important for the company in such a short time (< 1 year). For these reasons, they gave me a salary raise of about 4.8% and a bonus of 4% of my yearly salary (the bonus has been given only to 3-4 people in the company).

While it's great that people recognize your work, I felt a bit disappointed, because I expected a higher increase (I guess that 3-4% increase is the norm where I live, so I didn't get much more). So my "amazing work" has been basically recognized through words and bonus only. Also, another reason of why I expected more is because I'm basically the only guy working in that position, so I'm the only one able to do that specific job. Regardless of the HUGE amount of work, I always delivered on time, and never got a complaint, only "compliments".

As a side note: two weeks ago a consultant has been hired for the same job but in a senior role (he has > 30 years of experience), since there is too much work to do.

Now the "problem" is that I just received an informal offer from another company which consists of a higher salary of about ~23% per year. I'm very interested in the offer, both for the job duties and for the salary. Indeed, while I like working for my company, a 23% salary difference is quite huge (however I also have to relocate to another city, so that's another reason to stay where I currently am).

Of course, the offer is not finalized yet, as I still have to do the proper interviews. But I'd like to think about future scenarios, since this is not the only offer I received (but it's certainly the most interesting).

I'd also like to point out that I'm not actively looking for another job. Employers are looking at my Linkedin profile and they are contacting me.

So to summarize the whole picture: I like to work for my company and I'd like to stay, but at the same time I'd like a higher salary, due to the amazing work I'm doing and to other offers I'm receiving.

So, when I will receive a real offer from another company, I'd like to go to my boss(es) and say something along these lines: "I was not actively looking for another job, not at all, but I received different offers in the past weeks anyway. I'd like to stay here because I like the job, the environment, etc., but there is a big salary discrepancy which at the end will convince me to work for another company. Is there something we can arrange?"

Do you think that this is a good strategy?

  • 1
    Not going to answer, because unfortunately this question is Off-Topic. But I will offer my advice in this comment: For various reasons that are too long to go into here, you have only 2 good options. Option 1: You take the other job. Option 2: You turn down the other job and then go to your employers and discuss the difference between your pay and the market rate for people of your skills + experience. Negotiating with your employer by using an open job offer is making a threat, and they will either call you on it (fire you), or give you a counter offer (which you should not accept).
    – Kaz
    Feb 16, 2017 at 10:45
  • So, either you like the other job offer more than your current one. In which case you should take it. Or you don't like it enough to quit and relocate, in which case you turn it down but then use it as a neutral piece of evidence to discuss your current market value with your employer and how that might impact your salary going forwards.
    – Kaz
    Feb 16, 2017 at 10:47
  • 1
    An informal offer of +23% is worth precisely 0. Don't assume that what comes in writing will necessarily be as good. Feb 16, 2017 at 11:38
  • 2
    also going to an interview is actively looking. Feb 16, 2017 at 11:44
  • 1
    Money isn't everything. If you try this, you need to be prepared to go through and quit your job. Feb 16, 2017 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


Do you think that this is a good strategy?

I really don't. Trying to get a counter offer almost always backfires.

If you take it, you'll be marked a flight risk and they'll replace you at the earliest possible convenience, and that usually really won't be convenient for you.


There are three ideas here that I'll discuss - because I'm unemployed right now so I have the time - and then I'll propose a solution for you.

Idea One:: A good company shouldn't counter your job offer based on what offers the market is giving you. Rather, they should pay you based on the value your output.

Extending that argument, any time an employee comes and asks for a raise based on an external offer, they're effectively equating performance with market salary. And this leads to the situation where people aren't paid based on their effectiveness in that company. Which is problematic, from the company POV.

Idea Two:: Companies pay the market rate for salaries. This can often run into the idea that if they meet your raise in this case, then they'll have to keep on meeting your raises to retain you (nobody knows what the market price will go to). This is confusing, as it seems to punish the idea of capitalism in a (presumably) capitalist company.*

Mini Summary In a well-run company Idea Two shouldn't be acknowledged - instead your pay should be based on your output, and once you reach a stage where your pay demand is at odds with your output the company should let you go, if you so wish, to earn more money elsewhere.

Idea Three:: This is the idea that people should love where they work, and be loyal to that. The argument here is that performance is tied to how much you love your company, and any sign of wanting to leave the company is indicative of a lack of love/loyalty, and, more importantly, an indication of future lowered performance. I feel this is broken because it conflates loving your company and loving your job. I would argue loving your job is the essential indicator to performance. There are cases where company issues (management, bullying, conditions) will force a person out, of course - but wanting to leave a company does not, on its own, indicate that future performance will decline.

Which Idea?:: Ok, so you have three ideas now, and you have to see, based on your views of your management/culture (which in a startup you should be familiar with) which of these ideas best matches your company. The below are guidelines - your "gut" feel is more important.

  1. If your company is super emotional and everybody loves working there and goodness me we give our employees special names we're all a family here - then you're probably working at a company that agrees with Idea Three.

  2. If the culture is very political - if it is more about appearance and there's a lot of idea-stealing instead of a genuinely collaborative effort, if it feels like everybody is competing with each other in the company - then your company follows Idea Two.

  3. And if your management seem apolitical and focussed (note: this doesn't mean the company is necessarily successful) and you have a collaborative atmosphere, then your company is probably most receptive to Idea One.

Suggestions:: In all of these cases, always accept a job offer that you're seriously considering, in writing, before going to management to negotiate that raise.

Also, in all of these situations we are assuming you are good at your job and your company wants to retain you, at least at your current salary.

If your company follows Idea One, then once you have the job offer you can come to management and make a case - but the thrust should be your output and how you're hitting targets, how much you can provide, and what the overall benefit to the company of retaining you is. Maybe propose some new business case or innovation as well? There is no harm here in presenting the job offer, but it won't, on its own, guarantee you a raise.

If your company follows Idea Two then taking your job offer is the strongest argument you can make for a raise - so you should do so. You would also want to stress that you love the company etc, of course. But your argument about market wages will resonate with management.

If your company follows Idea Three then you are in a bit of a pickle. Showing the job offer is a no-no, if you want to retain your job, as it is implicitly a fire-able offense. Arguing here for a raise based on more your needs (baby, buy a house, quality of life) will make more sense in the culture than anything else.

Hope that helps!

*I guess if you're in a social enterprise its different, but then if you were in a social enterprise you probably wouldn't be complaining about your pay check (and if you were, then social enterprise isn't for you).

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