How NOT to Use a Competing Offer to Get a Higher Salary

What’s the best way to negotiate a higher salary? If you’re lucky enough to have one, using a competing offer is a good choice. After all, nothing says you’re in demand like another company willing to pay top dollar to secure your services.

salary negotiation myths
Image Credit: Franck BLAIS/Flickr

Of course, no negotiation method is without its potential pitfalls. There are wrong ways to use a competing offer, including:

  1. Using an offer that isn’t definite … or even real.

It should go without saying, but lying during any part of the job search process is a bad idea. For one thing, you’re likely to get caught. For another, by conducting your negotiation on dishonest terms, you’re setting the tone for the entire professional relationship, should you accept the job.

Bottom line, you don’t need to lie to negotiate a higher offer. Base your salary request on data, not invented stories, and you’ll almost certainly get more money. PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide shows that 75 percent of people who asked for a raise got a salary bump. The odds are in your favor.

  1. Bluffing, even with a genuine offer in hand.

OK, the competing offer is real … but that doesn’t mean that you want to take it. If you’d sooner cobble together ride-sharing gigs and temp jobs than take your other offer, think twice about using it as a bargaining chip. Unless you’re prepared to wind up with no job at all, you might not want to bet on a job you don’t want to take.

  1. Being cocky or downright rude.

Occasionally, you will see stories about hiring managers who yank the offer for no other reason than that the candidate attempted to negotiate the offer, but these cases are vanishingly rare. In reality, most hiring managers expect you to negotiate, and as long as you do so respectfully, won’t think less of you for asking, even if there truly isn’t any wiggle room in the budget.

The key here is the word “respectfully.”

“Choose your language carefully,” advises one woman, who recently negotiated a five-grand salary bump, in an interview with Forbes. “I really respected the company that I was negotiating with and I wanted that to be reflected in the conversation, while still being firm and advocating for what I need. Instead of taking a tough stance while using my other offer as leverage, I used language that would make it seem like we were on the same team, working toward a shared goal.”

Do you deserve a higher salary? Find out by taking PayScale’s free Salary Survey today. Then use our Salary Negotiation Guide to close the gap.

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