Q: I like my job, but I recently put out some applications to see if I could earn a bit more. I went on some interviews and was offered a position at a higher salary than I make now. The problem is, I’d really rather just stay at my current company. Should I try to leverage the new offer for higher pay? Is this a smart move or will it ultimately hurt me?
A: If this is an activity you do on a regular basis, you will find yourself frustrated, as will your employer and anyone who actually wants to give you the job you’ve been offered. But if this is something that you do only every two or three years, it can be beneficial for a few reasons: You can discover which of your skills are most marketable, what you may be missing, and what you need to develop and fine tune to remain competitive. You can also gain insight into the compensation for your skills in other organizations. But as in many career-related moves, there are risks to this approach.
How much more money is a “bit more”? Most people won’t change jobs for a 10% increase, but if you feel you are underpaid and your offer is an increase of 20% , it is worth considering. Make sure you understand the full compensation package before making any decisions. You may be making three dollars more per hour, but perhaps you have to pay the equivalent of two dollars per hour more for your health benefits. Think of other issues that accompany a job change: Do you have to pay for parking? Will your commuter pass shift to a more expensive option? The reality of salary compression should be a consideration, too. Salary compression occurs when new hires end up making close to (or sometimes more than) senior employees at a company because the market demands it. Organizations offer new employees attractive starting salaries to draw interest to the job, but the raise cycle might stall out after that. When’s the next review ? What’s an average raise look like? Will you miss out on a solid raise in the cycle at your old organization? Understanding how the full comp packages compare is crucial.
Should you try to leverage the new offer? Most people would. If you do, be prepared for your employer not to be happy. They’ll wonder what your commitment to the organization is. They may make a counteroffer or decide not to negotiate. If you stay anyway—since that’s where it sounds like you’d rather be—it can have a negative impact on you and your reputation in the workplace. If you do actually leave and end up in a job you really didn’t want in the first place, how will that affect your work satisfaction?
Back to the initial reason for all this. You can try to get a raise at your company before interviewing externally. Work harder at your current organization: seek development opportunities, talk to your manager about increasing your responsibilities, and take on new projects that will hone important skills and showcase your value to the company. Be prepared for a conversation to negotiate a raise.
If you’d really rather stay at your company, figure out what it is worth to you. Leveraging job offers presents the risk of not getting the desired raise but staying anyway, or leaving and being unhappy with the move. Rather than seeking a short-term solution, focus on your skills and your successes at your current company to demonstrate that you’re worthy of a raise.