I’m writing with a quick question regarding “the offer.” I’m currently working in a position where when one crazy employee was fired, I was told I’d be promoted to cover both her position and mine…in February. It is now May and despite periodic check-ins, I’ve been told there are no updates and that decision makers usually move slowly. (It’s true that this involves bringing someone else into our department in a different position/payscale, so this may be the hold-up). In the meantime, I interviewed with a different company and was offered a position. After some deep soul searching, I’ve decided new position is not for me…despite the fact that they are offering to pay me $10,000 more per year than my current job. If I could receive my promotion in a timely manner and possibly half of that additional $10,000, I’d happily stay. But I’ve heard horror stories where people say that they received an offer and simply get a “pat on the back and good luck.” It’s my notion that you shouldn’t attempt to negotiate in that fashion if you aren’t prepared to leave.

Can you offer any advice on this subject?


The new position is not for you, so you are stuck. Why? You never make a threat you are not willing to follow through on. (This is why you see stressed out parents at the park screaming, “If you don’t come back here right now, I’m going to kill you!”, while the kid runs around giggling. The kid knows this is not a valid threat. A better threat is, “if you don’t come back here right now, you will not get dessert.” You can follow through on that one.)

Sorry, I got distracted by parenting woes. You don’t want the new job, so what if they take you up on your threat? Then you have to take the job you don’t want.

Promotions can take a very long time to wind through the system, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s been a few months. You can certainly ask for a time table and for an explanation of what is taking so long. If you are feeling brave you can say, “XYZ offered me a position at $10,000 more than here. I turned it down because I feel like this is where I want to be. But, I can’t stay here indefinitely, hoping for the promotion.”

There is risk in that–now they know you are looking (or have looked for a new job). If loyalty is important to your boss, you may be in trouble. And keep something in mind–something like 80% of people who accept counter offers from their current employer end up quitting within a year anyway.* That’s why I almost never advise managers to do anything other than congratulate the employee on their new job and throw a nice going away party. They’ve checked out anyway.

*I totally pulled this number out of the air. I swear I remember reading it somewhere and I believe it is true, but this is a blog, not true journalism and I’m too lazy to fact check. If I wasn’t lazy I’d be out shoveling mulch, so I still wouldn’t be fact checking.

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6 thoughts on “Negotiating an Increase

  1. I totally agree – I have seen one case of using an offer to leverage a better position with your existing company work and more than 100 where it did not.

    Unless you can leverage an offer to secure the CEO job, you are always going to be reporting to a bunch of people who have a question mark over your loyalty. Every time you come into the office in a nice suit they will wonder are you going to another interview.

    “Darling, I’ve met a very interesting man. He earns more than you, he’s handsomer than you, he’s better endowed than you and he’s richer than you. But some part of me wants to stay with you …”

  2. “Darling, I’ve met a very interesting man. He earns more than you, he’s handsomer than you, he’s better endowed than you and he’s richer than you. But some part of me wants to stay with you …”

    Excellent analogy! That’s why you make the big money.

  3. Shelly,

    First, that’s a totally different situation. Absolutely, if you feel you have evidence that you’re being underpaid, go to your boss (first, and then HR).

    salary.base is too new and it doesn’t have a lot of data in it to be taken seriously. It may in the future. Although, you have to be careful with titles. My official title right now? Functional Lead. What in the heck does that mean? You won’t find it on any such salary survey, so it’s hard to tell if I’m being paid correctly, just based on that.

  4. I accepted a counter-offer from my former company and wound up leaving shortly after. My boss did forced a counter offer for himself and left anyway. Counter offers are a waste of time.

    P.S. fabulous blog.

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