Raise or Call?
September 19, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I like my job, but I have received a more lucrative offer from another company. How do I get a raise without leaving my company?

I have received an offer from another company to do the same job at a much higher salary. The new company is offering me 25% more money. I am also aware that other people at my current company with the same job as me are getting paid in this higher range, but they have more experience than me.

I could go to my boss and explain that I have another offer, but my fear is that she may say "if you have a better offer somewhere else, you should take it.". Our relationship has been frosty at times during my tenure.

Am I out of luck, or is there a way to play this?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you have an offer from another company for more money and you'd rather work there, just tender your resignation and go. Speaking from experience, it rarely ends well when someone goes to their manager with a job offer in hand asking for more money.

If you're really determined to try and get a raise from your current employer, just ask for it without mentioning the offer. Tell your manager that you need to talk to him.her and mke your case for a raise in pay.

If they agree - you win. If they don't, then you resign and take the new gig,
posted by DWRoelands at 9:04 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

You should go to your boss and first explain how happy you are at the company X, and how dedicated you are to it's success and future.

Then say, you were pursued by company Y and even though you're not interested because their values/future/product/philosophy/culture/whatever doesn't align with yours.

Now, you're now in a tough spot because company Y has offered you a substantial increase in pay — 25 percent — and although you'd really rather stay with company X, which is so great, it would be irresponsible of you to not take company Y's offer seriously (you can play the family card here if you have a family).

Next, say you're really excited about the next year at company X and you'd like to achieve goals 1, 2, and 3 (help the company launch a product, boost sales, whatever thing you're working on that helps company X overall), and you're hoping the two of you can talk about ways you can continue to be a part of company X to achieve all that.

Say you're flexible in how that could be approached, and you can even say it's not just about numbers, but feeling valued as that's reflected by an overall compensation package that matches your enthusiasm for helping company X succeed.

Be willing to negotiate total comp — benefits, vacation, time off, retirement boosts, bonuses, etc., and don't focus only on the salary number. That can keep these types of conversations more fluid and flexible.

Good luck!
posted by amoeba at 9:07 AM on September 19, 2012 [23 favorites]

It really sort of depends on the culture at your current employer. I've worked places where this situation would just be the cost of doing business and if they matched the offer or otherwise convinced you to stay you could do so without worrying about any serious ramifications. And I've worked places where talking to a competitor would be seen on a level with treason. If you work at the former you can safely follow amoeba's advice. If you work at the later either quit or stay. Trying to negotiate a counter offer will not end well. Best case, you leave with bad feelings. Worst case, they match the offer, then fire you in 60 days when they hire a replacement at 80% of your old salary.
posted by COD at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Only accept a counteroffer to stay with a two year or longer guaranteed contract. People who gt raises by threatening to quit are wearing targets if they are at-will employees.
posted by MattD at 9:27 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

I did exactly what amoeba described above, it worked! Just be honest, tell them you don't want to leave but you are willing to do it for the money. And please, be ready to leave if you don't get what you want.
posted by 3dd at 9:27 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with Amoeba except for one point. I'm not sure you would be putting yourself in the strongest position by saying that/why you don't want to go to the other company. That will potentially give your current employer less incentive to pay you more to get you to stay. So I think you could emphasize the reasons you like the current company only and not mention that you don't like the new company.

This is a delicate dance because you don't want to appear to be someone who jumps ship frequently or only cares about salary and will repeat this exercise with your current employer again soon. So you could say something to the effect that you like staying with a company long-term and you like your current company but in return for your loyalty and dedication it's important to you that your compensation package reflect what is available in your industry, both now and in the future. By adding "in the future", your employer could either build in automatic increases or just be prepped for the eventuality of you requesting another increase.

I think it's important to have everything in writing. So if you "go to your boss" to discuss this, make sure you tell the boss that you will send a follow-up email to summarize what was discussed to make sure you have a common understanding of what was discussed.
posted by Dansaman at 9:28 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a staff member with a similar situation. She said she really wanted to stay but the offer was incredible. Then she asked if we'd match the salary from the other company. The salary offer was great, but our vacation, insurance, retirement, flex-time and bonus packages were far superior. Plus, there are the intangibles of working in a known environment versus an unknown.

We decided to not match the salary offer and to wish her well in her career. No resentment and I'd give her a great recommendation. If she'd have decided to stay that would have been great too. I'm very supportive about staff career development; if your boss is more difficult YMMV.

Ask, but don't expect much.
posted by 26.2 at 9:29 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Trim amoeba's suggestion to the following:

You're in a tough spot because company Y has pursued you and offered you a substantial increase in pay — 25 percent — and although you'd really rather stay with company X, which is so great, it would be irresponsible of you to not take company Y's offer seriously.

Then say "How can we resolve this?", smile, and shut your mouth. Resist the urge to fill silence with words and leave the ball in her court. Do not weaken your own position with babble.

Remember that the worst case scenario is that you leave and make more money. As outcomes go, that one does not suck.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

In order to negotiate with the higher offer, you have to be willing to accept the higher offer and leave your current employer. Otherwise, you have no leverage.

If you'd be happier staying at the lower salary than moving to a new place, then don't bring it up. If either place is at least equal at the new salary, then negotiate.
posted by xingcat at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would go.

You might be just as happy or happier at your new company.

If you are undervalued where you are you really should go.

Just be sure to evaluate the entire compensation package. Vacation, sick leave, bonus, retirement plan, contribution to insurance, everything is in the package.

It's intimidating to start over at a new company, but in the end, there may be more opportunity and they may mentor and nurture you.

I started out at a company and was only eligible for incremental raises. They would hire newbies off the street in at higher salaries.

I wouldn't even bother asking for more money, your boss will resent you for it.

Give your resignation, and if they counter-offer, THEN consider if you want to stay.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think this is tricky, if you want to stay, because you didn't say you were undervalued or underpaid, you said that the salary matches what more experienced people are getting. It sounds like compensation might be tied in part to seniority and experience, and if so, it's not not super likely that you are going to get to that level simply by asking or presenting them with an opportunity to counter. You may be able to negotiate something, if you play it along the lines of what amoeba laid out above, but personally I'd weigh that against whether at the new company you'd have a less "frosty" relationship with your boss andd higher pay. I'd also weigh that against the likelihood that they might decide to find someone willing to work at your current salary, or below, either based on culture OR your actual fit with the organization.
posted by sm1tten at 10:25 AM on September 19, 2012

My wife has been in this situation. She had a good relationship with her bosses, and didn't want to leave, but was offered a significant increase in pay and responsibility. She talked to her bosses, saying "I don't want to leave, but I have to think about what's best for me." They matched the pay and gave her a better position. Then a couple years later, they laid her off as part of a retrenchment.

You have to figure out what you'll accept to stay put—what those intangibles and non-pay benefits are worth to you. If all that stuff is worth the total difference in pay, then it's not worth bringing it up at all.
posted by adamrice at 10:30 AM on September 19, 2012

Be very careful about resigning as a bargaining chip. Once you resign, I can no longer negotiate with you or on your behalf. A resignation is a legal end to our employment agreement. You resign, my next call is to HR to start the off-boarding process. I've managed staff at 4 Fortune 50 companies in the last 15 years - every one of them had the same policy. Resignation is a full stop,
posted by 26.2 at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the game of hardball. As Rodrigo said, You can't leverage an offer unless you're willing to take it. Do take into consideration all of the benefits your present position offers: health insurance, vacation time, 401k, etc.
Also think about the long term. Is this a company you want to be with in five years? Ten years? Is there an opportunity for professional advancement? How secure is your position there? How stable is the company in general? When/if you have a family/mortgage/other life changing thing, how supportive will your present company be of your less flexible lifestyle? Now ask the same questions of your potential new employer.

Another thought: do you know anyone who works for your potential new employer? Take them to lunch and ask about the company. Ask all of the questions I just asked above. Ask about morale and office politics. Ask about work ethic and the health of the company, from an insider's perspective.
posted by cleverevans at 12:23 PM on September 19, 2012

You should also clarify if the offer from the other company is an actual written job offer, i.e. you've already interviewed and they've sent an offer letter and now they are only waiting for you to accept or not. If it is just a conversation from the other company saying something like "you'd be a great fit" or "you should come work for us", that is not an offer. If you end up trying to leverage this "offer" and your current company won't match it, now you have no place to go.

If it's a legit offer, then ignore my comment.
posted by CathyG at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2012

You should almost never seek or take a counter offer. For one, if they did truly value your contributions at the level they would give you a raise to, they would have offered it better. If you do truly want to stay, then go to your boss and ask for a raise, but don't mention the new company.

Some articles:

Why you shouldn't take a counteroffer

How to deal with a counteroffer

More reasons

From LifeHacker
posted by Carillon at 1:38 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I respectfully disagree with Carillon. Counter offers are so common at my organisation (large multinational), that there is a specific policy and budget for how to deal with them. It causes absolutely no bad blood whatsoever, and indeed is widely seen internally as virtually the only way to get a raise in some cases.

Obviously YMMV, but it is not, de facto, a bad thing to ask for, and accept.
posted by smoke at 4:40 PM on September 19, 2012

Regardless of whether you go or not, just remember you will only get a raise if you ask for one and you should be prepared to leave if they don't give it to you. After all, if you ask for a raise, get rejected (with no future raise in sight) and then continue to work there, then your employer will know he can continue to pay your current salary without fear of you leaving.

Either you ask for a raise at your current place and get it, or you don't get it and pick up a new job at 25% more.

Good luck.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 1:28 AM on September 21, 2012

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