Tech & Work

Is mentioning a job offer in a raise discussion a good or a bad idea?

If you're talking to your boss about a raise, should you mention that you have another job offer? Well, that depends.

If you're talking to your boss about a raise, should you mention that you have another job offer? Well, that depends.


I received a question recently from a TechRepublic member asking whether it's a good idea to mention another job offer when negotiating a raise wtih a current employer:

"When asking for a raise is it a good or bad thing to politely mention that you have had other job offers and that if a salary increase is not given that you may be forced to pursue other options?

Is that considered threatening to the employer or is it an effective tool to let the employer know that the company may lose your services if they cannot increase the salary?"

When discussing any course of action at work, the answer depends on your current job situation.

  • What is your relationship with your boss like? Is she the type who will work with you on the issue, or will she interpret the conversation as a threat?
  • Does your company work only within salary ranges? If so, are you currently at the top of yours?
  • Do you really know how you're perceived by others in the company? It's common for people to exaggerate their importance in a company.
  • Are your skills visible and/or rare?

A job offer can be a great bargaining tool — if you keep a few things in mind:

  • Don't issue any ultimatums when you have the talk. No one, even the most even-tempered person in the world, likes to be told "or else."
  • Don't whine. Remain professional so that your boss can consider the situation on a logical basis, not an emotional one. Be prepared to present the reasons you deserve a raise. Mention what you've done for the company (though try to avoid highlighting your contributions by downplaying those of other employees — keep it positive).
  • Be flexible. Your boss may not be able to give you a raise, but she may be open to offering you training or other actions that could benefit you in the long run.
  • Be prepared to walk. I'm sorry, but if the company culture is to exercise the mantra "If you don't like it, then leave," your boss may issue that very statement to you. And she may ask you to leave that day if you have access to sensitive data. Her thinking will be that if you are turned down for a raise, you will take your disappointment out by causing the company harm. This is especially true if the other offer came from a competitor.

Does the community have any more advice?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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