Ask Your Boss: How Do I Tell My Manager About a Job Offer?

One of my readers submitted a question. Please read the question below carefully before reading my answer. Have something to add? Please do so in the comment section.

I was recently asked by a friend/mentor in my network to lunch. We have had lunch once a month or so over the past 6-8 months so this was nothing out of the ordinary. Our discussions typically had a focus on business with regards to anything from analytics to operations to development. So this conversation was not out of the ordinary until the end. I was asked if I would come meet her team at the company she works for and that she would like to offer me position X, at a salary noticeably greater than my current salary. 

I am not unhappy with my current employer and salary and am in fact very happy with them. I would like to bring this up to my manager though. How does it make sense to approach this? Will my manager likely think I am only motivated by money and lose interest in keeping me?

Let’s be honest, you are going to tell your manager about this job offer because you want a counteroffer, some sort of monetary acknowledgment of your value to the company. You like your job, you just want more money, right? So to answer your last question, I am going to say “yes.” There is a very strong possibility that your manager will think that you are trying to extort a raise by threatening to leave.

For the sake of this post discussion, and not knowing anything else, I will assume that your company is doing well financially, not going through lay offs, and is able to give raises.

I can see two possibilities that can take place.

First, you might not get a counteroffer. That would be the case if I were your boss. I would wish you good luck, and you would be on your way to your new job before you could blink twice. Luckily for you, I am not your boss. This brings us to the second possibility.

Your manager might consider keeping you for whatever reason, and as a result of this consideration you will get what you want, i.e. a counteroffer.

No matter what happens, I can promise you that it is going to be a very uncomfortable conversation for both of you. You already are worried about coming across as greedy, and legitimately so.

If you decide to talk to your manager, go into this conversation with confidence because let’s admit it, you can negotiate from the position of strength. You do have a job offer.

So, assuming, you have enough leverage to rely on, this is what I recommend:

  1. Do not go into the conversation with an attitude that you have the world at your feet. You don’t.
  2. Do not use your new job offer as a threat to negotiate a raise. In fact, the raise you get this way might be used against your next raise.
  3. Preparation is key. Take your time planning, structuring, rehearsing. Listen to yourself, and make sure you don’t sound like a greedy jerk. It sounds odd, but you might be surprised what comes out of your mouth when you are nervous.
  4. Be honest. Tell your manager what happened, and how you feel about it.
  5. Explain why you are having this conversation.
  6. Make sure to tell your manager why you love your current job. Rehearse in your mind (and out loud) all the reasons you want to keep on working, and contributing value to the company. Present your accomplishments. Make sure to add what else you can do in the future.
  7. Stay positive. If your conversation is not going the way you want it to go, start to think creatively (if you want to stay that is.) It might be a good time to address what else can be done to close the gap that exists between what you want and what is being offered to you (bonuses, extra time off, company perks.)
  8. There might be silence during your conversation. Don’t be afraid of it. Maintain the pause. It always helps to make the other person (your manager in this case) talk.
  9. Be prepared to walk away with nothing.

If I were your manager, and you walked in into my office with your story, I would ask you the following questions:

  1. Why are you telling me this?
  2. What do you want me to do?
  3. I understand that you were not looking for a new job. But it seems to me that you are considering this offer.  Why?
  4. Is it all about the money? No? It sounds to me like it is. This is where I, your boss, would maintain a very long pause to make you fidget in your sit.
  5. Are you threatening to leave if you don’t get what you want?

I want to be frank with you. My perception of you most likely would change after this conversation. 

As your boss, I would always think that you are on a constant look out for bigger and better opportunities. Even if I ended up giving you what you want, I would always remember that you extorted it from me. I would not be able to trust you, and eventually I would find someone who is more reliable. In other words, I would find your replacement. But, as I said before, luckily for you, I am not your manager.

In the end, you should seriously consider the downsides of this conversation.

Want to Ask Your Boss a question? There is a form on the top of the right sidebar. Submit it, and I will write a post in response. 

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