Is Using Another Job Offer to Get a Raise Always Such a Good Idea?

Joanne Poh



There are many ways to get a raise at work, including threatening your boss with a pen knife and blackmailing HR with secretly-shot videos. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many legal ways to raise your salary.

If you’re too shy to ask your boss for a raise, you might decide to take the passive aggressive route—by securing another job offer, and then dangling that in your boss’s face, threatening that if he doesn’t match the salary offered by the other employer, you’ll walk.

I have some personal friends who have tried this trick and were actually successful. But does that mean you should use it? Well, it depends.

Here are some warning signs that you might be signing your own death warrant.


The company is broke

Eunice Tan, managing consultant at recruitment firm Jadeclover, estimates that changing jobs should be able to net you an increment of at least 10% to 15%. By contrast, annual increments are usually only about 3% to 5%.

Bearing in mind that you’ll be asking for a fairly hefty raise, make sure the company isn’t too broke to pay your asking price. If the company isn’t doing well financially or business has been bad in the past months, try this trick and you’ll either be forced to leave and accept the new offer, or you’ll have to stay without a raise, having strained your relationship with your boss.

Eunice says, “Another the situation an employee has to consider is if he uses the tactic to request for a higher salary and the boss agrees, but is unable to match his new offer. The employee is then put in a difficult position as it might not be polite to reject his current boss, but rejecting the new employer would mean settling for a lower salary.”


You can be easily replaced

If your boss can easily find someone else to replace you, especially at a lower price, never try this trick, or you could find yourself hitting the road and not coming back no more, no more. Obviously, you should not pull this stunt if you’ve been in the company for less than two years, or if you’re still a lowly entry-level employee.

You also need a bit of awareness about your industry to know if this will work. For instance, if you’re a banker who’s got very profitable connections, your chances of getting a raise using another job offer are higher than they would be if you were a worker at an NGO where employees are supposed to care about a cause.


Your boss might let you go if he doesn’t trust you

Certain bosses are more receptive than others to raising an employee’s salary in order to retain them, while others will send the employee packing as a matter of principal because they had the audacity to sneak around and apply for jobs behind their backs.

“Some employers may not even want to keep staff who have the intention to leave,” warns Eunice.

She goes on to say, “If your performance is good and you are still comfortable with staying on in the company, you can try to use this method. However, as your boss knows you have the intention leave, other opportunities within the company later on may be withheld.”


You current employer is a big shot and you don’t want to burn bridges

When you decide to bargain with your employer in this way, you’re taking a big risk. As such, it’s not a good idea to do it if your employer is a big name that you want to stay on friendly terms with.

To you, your little strategem might be a helpful tactic for increasing a salary that was too low to begin with. To your boss, you spent hours sneaking around applying for jobs, and actually had the gall to secretly go for an interview. To make matters worse, you’re now trying to extract more money from the company by painting him into a corner.

Eunice says, “No employers like to feel threatened, and nobody is indispensable in a company. If you want to ask for a higher salary, it’s better to talk to the boss directly. If your boss is appreciative and willing to do something to raise your salary, then stay on. However, if you really think you are underpaid and your employer is unable or unwilling to offer you your expected salary, then you should just move on.”

Basically, if your boss is an unappreciative bastard who refuses to pay you what you deserve, this tactic might just work… but you would be better off elsewhere anyway.

Have you ever tried to use another job offer to wrangle yourself a raise? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.