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This question already has an answer here:

I like my job, a lot, and the end goal is to keep my job, but get a raise on the order of 50%.

They currently pay me £X, which is a little below the national average for the UK, and a lot below the average for people with my skill set. It was a fair salary when I started at the company, a few years ago, but thanks to some prodigious personal growth and development since then, I'm reasonably certain I could get paid £2X on the open market today.

I have tried every option I can think of to persuade management to raise my salary which does not involve threatening to quit. This has resulted in some salary movement, but not enough.


So, I am looking for a new job.

I am prepared to quit if that is what it takes, but I would strongly prefer not to, so I'd like to take every non-brinksmanship option I can before getting to that point.

Once I get an offer, assuming the compensation is what I expect, is there any way to use this to force a conversation with my company without threatening (explicitly or implicitly) to leave if they don't give me what I want?

marked as duplicate by Dukeling, JasonJ, DarkCygnus, gnat, Rory Alsop Sep 13 '17 at 13:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • "I've received this other offer at X that I am considering taking." Wait to see what they say. I'd suggest not saying a number until you absolutely have to, or until they offer one first. I'd also suggest having a list of skills that makes you worth that number. I also wouldn't announce whether or not you want to leave, as that can be used against you. – JFA Sep 12 '17 at 17:46
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    @BlackHatGuy Your intent is clear and understandable, but I don't believe your employer will see it the way you do. If you go out and get another offer with the cash your asking for, exactly how is that not a threat on some level that you will resign if your demands are not met? – Mister Positive Sep 12 '17 at 18:04
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    @BlackHatGuy I provided the answer for you. ;-) – Mister Positive Sep 12 '17 at 18:08
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    @BlackHatGuy If I ever get to the point I have to look for a job to make things right, then its time for me to move on. YMMV – Mister Positive Sep 12 '17 at 18:34
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    Virtually no company is going to give anyone not a senior manager a 50% pay raise. There is no budget at any company that has that kind of pay raise built in. That is just the way the world works. If you really want that money then get a new job. If you like the job then accept that you will be underpaid as long as you are there. However, if you have expanded your skills beyond your job description, it is sometimes possible to get a large pay raise but changing job titles. In other words, shoot for a promotion instead of a pay raise. – HLGEM Sep 12 '17 at 18:53
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Once I get an offer, assuming the compensation is what I expect, is there any way to use this to force a conversation with my company without threatening (explicitly or implicitly) to leave if they don't give me what I want?

No there isn't.

Once you mention you have another offer, the cat is out of the bag, and the threat of you quitting is there whether its stated or not.

Furthermore, if the amount of increase necessary to bring you in line with what the market will bear is still high, be fully prepared for them to wish you good luck on your new adventure, especially since they have already recently increased your pay.

Even if they increase your salary, under threat of your resignation, there will most likely be some resentment towards you in that they would have increased your salary twice, once while you had an offer in hand.

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    I agree with this. It's also generally accepted (rightly or wrongly) that people who stay for cash are only going to be placated for a short time. In my experience this is often true and I always advise people turn down counter offers unless they're very special (I.e., a different role etc) and there is good reason they weren't offered before. Personally, I fear the OP is miscalculating this move and should absolutely be prepared to move on from this role. – Dan Sep 12 '17 at 18:06
  • +1. The only way to go ahead with this is to inform management that despite the latest developments salary-wise, the salary does not represent the value added nor the market value. And then say that job satisfaction is high, but due to the economics of it, BlackHatGuy will be actively looking for other opportunities. (However, BHG should probably enumerate the value of job satisfaction, in case a new counter offer arrives. Is 2X the only acceptable salary, or is 2X-Y ok, given the high job satisfaction) – Stian Yttervik Sep 13 '17 at 9:41
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    And knowing that you're looking, they will keep you there with the salary increase to avoid the costly disruption of the vacancy and the costs of filling, training, etc the replacement. They will, however, immediately start looking for that replacement and will drop the hammer when it is on their own terms, not yours. If they were unwilling to make the movement, the only option is to move on. – PoloHoleSet Sep 13 '17 at 14:16
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Firstly, try to take an objective look at your own situation.

You are being paid X. This means your employer currently receives your services at the cost of X. You feel you are worth X + n and are trying to get paid that amount for your services. To achieve this, you have three options:

  1. Disregarding any external factors, convince your employer to pay you X + n.

In practice, if you want to arrive at X + n you'll probably need to start the discussion by asking for something higher than X + n and understand that you'll probably end up with less than X + n. While the value 'on the market' of your services may be X + n, they've been paying X for those services, so to them, the value of the services is still X. What other companies might feel your services to be worth is irrelevant to them, they are not the other companies.

  1. Use external factors as evidence that your services are worth X + n and try to convince your employer to pay it to you.

This means that your employer will inevitably feel threatened. After all, you're saying that someone else would pay you X + n for your services, so even if you don't have an actual offer, you're still implying that all it takes for you to get X + n is to switch to another employer. This means that the employer has a simple choice: either they give you X + n or another employer does.

  1. Switch jobs to a company that will pay you X + n.

Obviously, the last option is to actually quit and join a new company that will agree to pay you X + n for your services.

So how will these options affect your relationship with your employer?

Excepting very rare cases, no matter how well the discussions go, the first option will leave some part of the company feeling unhappy. To understand why is simple:

Imagine you have a service, for instance your subscription to TV. For amount X you get a specific set of channels. You happily use your subscription for a while but then all of a sudden, you get a letter saying that they would now like you to pay amount X + n for the same set of channels. So, you call them up to ask where this increase in price is coming from. And they answer: "Well sir, the price you're paying was established a long time ago. Since then, we've made improvements to our service so we now feel that it's worth more. Even if you understand their reasoning, you've always been getting the service for X, so to you, that's the value of the service. To you, it doesn't matter that other providers of that service charge X + n, it may even be the reason that you liked this company, you were getting a good deal!

In the second case, your employer will feel like you're threatening them. To continue in the style of the example above, it's as if the TV company is saying "Well sir, this is what people are willing to pay for our service these days." No matter how they put it, this will always feel like they're saying "Either you pay us X + n, or someone else will". It can also feel like a slippery slope to them. Today you're asking for X + n, but what happens when you suddenly decide you're worth more later? In many cases, this option leads the company to start trying to replace you, even if that means they will need to pay more than X for the services.

So this leaves the third option, which is always the easiest one. As long as you're more or less correct about the market value of your services, it should be relatively easy to find someone who's willing to pay that market value. At the very least, it will be a lot easier than to convince your existing employer to pay you more for the same thing. Even if you're happy at the current company with everything except for your salary, this is still ususally the best option unless you're willing to settle for getting paid something between X and X + n (usually substantially below X + n though).

  • To be fair, TV companies do exactly that. "Your locked-in rate has expired. Time to jump you up to the current market price". Good analogy, though. – Bobson Sep 13 '17 at 12:41
  • @Bobson I know, internet companies do the same, that's why I like the analogy so much: almost everyone can empathise with how unfair it feels to suddenly pay more for something you were already getting – Cronax Sep 13 '17 at 12:51
  • disagree on #2: Saying "This company will pay me 2X" is different from "the market rate for this work seems to be 2X, so I think it's fair we adjust my salary to be more in-line with market rate". Then you go on to discuss value added to the company, "prodigious growth" as the OP states, etc – Chris Sep 13 '17 at 17:54
  • @Chris It may seem like it's different to you, but that's all your employer is going to hear: "They're saying they can get 2X elsewhere, so if I don't give it to them they may go there". – Cronax Sep 14 '17 at 8:56
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In general I agree with Mister Positive, however, you can do the following:

Assumption: You are in good standing with your bosses and they trust you...if there is not trust then this makes this answer moot.

  • Meet with your manager and indicate that you have been trying to ascertain your value within the current market and skill level and would like to discuss things with him/her to better understand.
  • Make sure that you assure him as well you really like working for the company and want to stay working with them, but also want to make sure you don't fall behind in understanding the market trends and future growth opportunities.
  • Once talking with him as the more difficult questions of why you are paid what you are and if this is a company limitation due to size/profits/comparative to other employees or just a good guesstimate value they place on you. You are trying to understand your worth in their eyes which is what salary is all about.
  • Once you ascertain your worth in their eyes and any company limitations on salary vs. industry standard you won't need to mention the other offer.
  • If they don't indicate an issue with paying industry standard value and don't indicate an issue with your worth to the company then you can bring up that you also tried out getting an offer and was suprised to be offered x instead of around the same thing you were making. Ask them to respond as you feel like maybe you aren't being treated as fairly at your current job that you love so much and want to ease your feelings regarding that.

At this point if they aren't treating you fair they may feel guilty and either make it right to keep you or freak out that you are looking for other jobs. If they do the later it's a good chance they didn't want to ever pay you or other people an industry standard salary, but want to keep people from finding out their worth and leaving for another job.

Remember though that this approach is specific to already having a solid personal relationship with your boss, otherwise you likely need to go with Mr. Positive's statement as that is the general response you will receive.

P.S. I have seen this go successfully in small companies where they came in and gave a reasonable counter. They were hesitant to offer until the employee insisted and they risked losing them in which case they quickly responded by compensating the employee to keep them on. Small companies sometimes will hold the raises until substantial profits to offset it are in, it's a negotiation within the profit margins.

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