Salary negotiation: Can I ask my employer-to-be to match a counter-offer from my current employer?
June 1, 2008 4:52 PM   Subscribe

I've accepted a new job and I'm giving notice tomorrow. I may have low-balled myself, salary-wise. If my current employer counter-offers, can I ask my new employer to match?

Just agreed to take a new job. It's an exciting opportunity at well-regarded company, but they're a relatively small operation, and people who worked there told me they were "downright cheap" when it came to salary. So when the recruiter asked me what I was looking for, I made an initial offer that was less than I would have asked for elsewhere (but more than I thought they'd give me). I expected them to counter, but instead they called back and gave me exactly what I asked! (The recruiter said, "Yes, that's pretty much what [executive I interviewed with] was thinking.") Now I wonder if I've low-balled myself.

Tomorrow morning I expect to get the offer letter, and then I'll give notice. My current employer might counter offer on salary.

Two questions: Would I be jeopardizing my new gig if I went back and asked them to match the new offer? And if not, how can I phrase it so it doesn't sound (or sounds less like) I'm simply shaking them down?
posted by PlusDistance to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Haggling 101: You say you want more than you expect as the first step, not less. What possible reason would they have to then offer you more than you requested?

You're welcome to try your idea, but it doesn't really make sense.
posted by odinsdream at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2008

Seems easy to me.

Don't see any problem with saying. "Look, I am happy at my current job. I was only looking to move up, which I didn't see happening here. I was wrong. They have offered me X to stay. I am still interested in your company, but I think you'd have to agree, for me to make a lateral move doesn't make sense. Can you match/beat my current offer?"

This assumes your current employer doesn't say, "There's the door," and that you would indeed be happy staying there.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:08 PM on June 1, 2008

Don't agree to the new job or formally give notice until you know about a counter-offer.

After you get the offer letter, speak with your boss and tell them the situation. If they plan to counter-offer, you'll know right away. If not, you can give your notice after you speak with your boss.

The new job will give you a day or two to accept, so don't worry about them.

My unsolicited advice is to know in advance, how much of a counter-offer it will take to make you want to stay. Be ready to tell that to your current job.

If you are countered, you can go to the hiring managers at the new place and tell them the situation and ask if there is anything they can do.

If you formally accept the new job offer and then try to get more money, you will be screwed and set a bad precedence of behavior. Until you accept, negotiation is expected. After acceptance, it's bad form.
posted by Argyle at 5:10 PM on June 1, 2008

Seconding odinsdream. First of all, it sounds like this is a step up for you , earnings-wise. So be happy with that. Secondly, I have learned as an employer that it is always, always, a bad idea to try to talk someone out of a move they have settled on, or to "counteroffer" whatever they intimate is being offered to them. If your employer has any brains, they will say, congratulations and good luck. An employee who is retained by means of a counteroffer is pretty much guaranteed to be an unhappy unemployee from that point, because whenever they have a bad day, they'll think "I should have taken that other offer and blown this joint." So, again, your employer would be smart not to counteroffer. But, if they do counteroffer, you would be even dumber if you took the counteroffer to the new folks and tried to up the ante. They would say, no thanks, and then where would you be? Stuck with the old employer, unhappy at every turn. Or, taking the new job anyway, and being unhappy at every turn because you could have done better. Look, it is what it is. Take the new job, be happy about the new challenges there, give notice to your old employer and don't accept any counteroffer on their part.
posted by beagle at 5:18 PM on June 1, 2008

Mash Argyle and beagle together, and you have it.

If you have formally accepted your new job, then you can ask your current employer for a counter-offer just for shits and giggles. Sometimes you can be surprised. Often, you are disappointed.

If you have formally accepted the new job, DO NOT haggle over the terms. You had your chance to do that BEFORE you accepted.

I have done job hires for several years now, and I would immediately rescind the offer to anyone who tried to haggle after accepting. It's just plain tacky, and sets an undesirable future tone.

If you have not formally accepted, then by all means, play the employers off each other. See who wants you more. But understand someone may jerk the rug out from under you.

If you do approach your current employer about a counter-offer, be well prepared to take the new job, because many employers (like beagle above, and myself, 95% of the time) would say "good luck!" and consider that your notice.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2008

If someone has "accepted" a position with me, at a specified salary, and then comes back and attempt to negotiate, I would say no thanks and keep looking..

You've made an agreement, don't go back on your word...
posted by HuronBob at 5:52 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's how this would work at my company.

You : (after interview) 'I'd like $50,000"
Me : "That sounds reasonable, I'll send the contract over."
You : "Hmmmm, I wonder if I could've gotten $55,000, I'll ask for it"
Me : Move on to next candidate, this one doesn't know what he wants.
posted by tickettrader at 7:49 PM on June 1, 2008

Seconding beagle. If you accept your current employer's counteroffer, be prepared to find yourself on the market again within a year. You will have shown yourself to be disloyal and will never have the same relationship with them again.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:32 PM on June 1, 2008

Thanks everyone. I've verbally accepted the offer, but haven't signed the papers. Which is really just a technicality, I suppose.

I've had a couple of people tell me that I could go back and ask the new employer to match. It sounded kind of shady to me, but I'm still fighting the stupid voice in my head that tells me it's all icky and yucky and greedy to even talk about money, or ask for something I want. I wanted to get some more objective opinions, and I did.

So, I guess I have no choice but to take this better job. :) I won't be trying to ping-pong; I don't want to blow it.
posted by PlusDistance at 9:39 PM on June 1, 2008

Since you've already accepted the new job pretty much, It'd be bad form to continue negotiating as others have said, and you do run the risk of blowing your new position.

It sounds like what they offered you was pretty much what they would have you offered you anyway - any lowballing is going to be pretty minor. Taking a step up in your career to move further on is worth more than a minor salary increase - there's a reason you wanted to leave your current job, after all!

Don't forget, you can always negotiate a raise at your next salary/performance review. Once you're in the door and have worked for some time (6 months to a year is usualish) you're in a better position to make your case for a pay rise.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:00 AM on June 2, 2008

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