This is naive conventional wisdom from the past that is absolutely no longer relevant or correct or useful. And no one any longer believes it other than fools. Where did you get this idea from? No doubt from a corporate recruiter because this is what they have been saying for years to get employees to jump from one company to another. It's a common tactic they use to preempt a candidate from going to the current employer and using the new company's offer as a bargaining chip. Remember, the headhunter only makes money when you jump ship. But that's their problem.
The days of assumed loyalty are over. What's good for the company is now good for the employee. If the company is not loyal to its employees, why should the employees be loyal to the company? How loyal is the company to you if it does not offer competitive wages, benefits, career opportunities or working conditions? Not what was competitive at the time you were hired years ago - what's competitive now. Does your company publish compensation ranges for all positions or pay grades? Probably not. Perhaps it should, perhaps not. Until it does however, how other than finding out what other companies are paying will you find out what you are really worth?
If you leave and they replace you, do you think they will hire your replacement at the same rate they were paying you? No. They'll have to pay today's going rate just like the company you're considering jumping to. So if they're prepared to pay someone else that rate, why shouldn't they pay you?
Your employer may consider you a traitor, but is that the kind of company you want to work for? And just exactly who at your company will consider you a traitor? Your boss? Is that the kind of boss you want to work for? How long has your boss even been on the job? Quite possibly less time than you have. Why? Because they likely jumped to a new position for higher pay themselves and that's how they became your boss in the first place.
When you realize that all employees are in the same boat, including your boss, your boss's boss and the entire HR dept., it's easy to see why bargaining for competitive compensation is business as usual and being perceived as a traitor is a non-issue. They're just as likely to grant you greater respect for having the guts to ask for more with clear evidence of what you're worth. After all, if you can't negotiate on your own behalf, how will you represent the company's interests?
And let's not forget that in today's economy where companies are assumed to be "not hiring", here comes a company that wants to hire you and not only that is willing to pay you more. What is the rational response from your existing employer? "You traitor"? No. How about, "Wow I didn't know he was that valuable. We better figure out how to keep him."
The reality is that getting a better offer from another company today is an opportunity to open some frank discussion with your boss about your job, your role and the contribution you have to make to the company. That can lead to any number of positive outcomes that all include your staying at the company, not being considered a traitor, and achieving greater job satisfaction -- whether or not you get more pay.
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