How to Use a Rival Job Offer for Leverage at Work

By LiveCareer

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They say that the best time to look for a new job is while you are working your current job. An employment search that is conducted while you have a regular paycheck rolling in is much more relaxing than it would be if you were out of work. Plus, jobseekers who are employed are less likely to be desperate for a job, any job. Having this “time on your side” attitude gives you the space to weigh the pros and cons of a new offer closely.

There may be an additional benefit to being gainfully employed during a job search: when a new job offer comes in, you may be able to leverage it to get what you want from your current role. A new job title, a higher salary, or other perks may be more easily negotiated once you have a new job offer in hand if you play your hand right.

Below, we have gathered tips and advice on what to do (and what to avoid) when you are hoping to use a rival job offer to make strides in your current role. Using these tactics will only be successful if you are an employee in good standing, with some degree of certainty that your employer would be open to negotiating in order to keep you.

Always tread carefully when using a rival job offer to negotiate with your current employer, but don’t skip the opportunity. At the end of the day, the worst your current employer can say is no.

Before Negotiating, Weigh the Dangers and Benefits

Always consider the risks associated with leveraging a rival job offer to get a raise or promotion before you start the conversation. After all, you are putting your current employer’s feet to the fire and you can’t be sure where the chips will fall. There is no bluffing allowed when you are trying to use an employment offer to secure a raise or a promotion. You could get shown the door so you have to be prepared to walk through it.  To have an effective conversation, you have to be sure that you are ready to pack up your desk if your company doesn’t meet your demands.  

Consider that whether or not to give you a pay raise or a promotion might not even be in your manager’s control. After all, there could be unseen factors that determine whether your request will be granted, such as budgetary limits that you aren’t privy to. That said, the benefits might outweigh the risks. If you are indispensable to the company, you’re in a position of power. If your company doesn’t want to lose you, it’ll often work with you to try and find some way to give you what you want.

7 Dos and Don’ts for Leveraging a Job Offer:

  1. Do remain professional.
    Your company doesn’t owe you anything in regards to a rival job offer, so approach all communications about your wants and needs in a respectful and professional tone.

  2. Don’t be vague about your goals. 
    Without a set of well-defined set of your wants and needs, you’ll likely walk away unsatisfied. If you want a title change, come into the meeting with a list of options that appeal to you. If it’s a raise you’re requesting, do your research for the market rate in your area and be ready to present a salary range that you can live with. Start at the high end so that you can negotiate down and still be satisfied.

  3. Do your research.
    If you haven’t done market research on your desired role, get started. Peruse job ads to make sure that you possess the qualifications someone in your preferred role should have. Use salary calculators to find a realistic salary bump. Understanding your local job market and the value of your skills, experience, and education in that market is critical. Go into your meeting with human resources or your boss armed with copies of your research.  

  4. Don’t make threats, veiled or otherwise.
    Being confrontational or adversarial will get you nowhere. If you threaten to go elsewhere unless you get what you’ve asked for, you will likely be handed your walking papers. Instead, make positive connections between your skills and what you bring to the table. Talk about your value and what you’ve achieved in your job to date. Ask questions about how you can take on more responsibility to help justify your promotion and/or pay raise.

  5. Do consider alternatives to a higher salary.
    While more money is always welcome, there are other ways to approach negotiating a better deal for yourself. If your company can’t offer you a pay increase, consider asking for more vacation time or a work-from-home day each week. If you are happy at your current company, finding alternatives to a pay raise can add value to your life in other ways.

  6. Don’t invent another offer.
    While it may be tempting to fabricate an offer or inflate a real offer just a little bit to get what you want, fight the urge. Being dishonest about a job offer isn’t an innocent fib and being found out can ruin your reputation and put your right into the unemployment line. If you don’t have a formal offer on the table but you want to lean on your managers to pay you more or change your title, don’t lie. Say something like this instead:

    “I’ve received several calls from recruiters recently. While I haven’t responded yet, the attention has made me realize that my skills are in demand right now. I’d like to set up a time to discuss my current salary/job title/ status and whether we can work together on a plan for growth within the company.”

    Opening the conversation this way is honest and lets your boss know that you have options without being threatening. Prepare the research and goals outlined above in advance of this meeting in case your boss wants to have an on-the-spot conversation. If, after a reasonable amount of time, you aren’t granted a conversation about your future, or if you can’t come to an agreement, it will be time to look for a new job in earnest.
  1. Do confirm your commitment to the company.
    If your goal, truly, is to stay at your current company, tell your boss that in no uncertain terms. Reassure your manager that you are still enthusiastic and that, while you have an offer in hand, your goal is to grow your career where you are now.

    About the Author:

    LiveCareer has been helping job seekers build stronger resumes and cover letters
    since 2005. Access a wide variety of resume templates to work from, or put our
    resume builder to use, and get step-by-step assistance in constructing a top-notch
    resume in no time at all.

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