Should You Use a Competing Job Offer to Negotiate Salary?

Having multiple job offers sounds like a dream come true, but in reality, it can be a bit of a minefield. Handled correctly, you can absolutely use competing job offers to negotiate the highest salary possible, but navigating that process requires strategic thinking and finesse. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one employer asking you to join their team, you’ll definitely want to think carefully about how and when you ask for a raise.

Scenario 1: You are interviewing with multiple employers and receive two job offers.

Congratulations! You’re hot stuff on the job search scene. As long as you don’t get cocky, you are in a prime negotiating position.

First, compare the total compensation packages of both offers (which you’ve gotten in writing because you are a total pro), and make sure that both match the salary range you’ve researched on PayScale. Make sure you take into account the base salary, bonuses, and benefits of each.

Second, put compensation aside and think about jobs themselves. Which do you want more? Compare the employers, the job descriptions, the environments, the people you’d work with, and the non-compensation benefits.

Once you’ve decided which job comes out on top, call the recruiter or hiring manager you’ve been working with and have an honest conversation. Tell her or him that you have two job offers, and that you are most excited about this one, but that you have an offer from another employer that is richer in certain respects. Then state what you want from them — and as usual, be specific, and be friendly.

One final thing to keep in mind is that while you are interviewing, don’t hold back from letting recruiters know that you are talking to more than one company. You’re in demand, and it’s good for the people interviewing you, and making you a job offer, to know that.

Scenario 2: You are currently employed but have received a job offer from another company.

Even though you’re in a committed relationship with your current employer, other folks can’t keep their eyes off you. If you find yourself happily employed, but have a competing offer fall into your lap, you are definitely in a strong bargaining position… Just make sure you think before you act.

It doesn’t matter how much the competing job offer pays, if you leverage it in a salary negotiation with your current employer, there is always the possibility that they won’t give you a counteroffer. If that happens, you’re left with two choices: take the job, or risk continuing in your current role with an employer who may think you are a little less loyal to the company than before.

So before you use a competing offer, think it through. If both roles are equally appealing, or if the new job edges out your current role, you should absolutely use the new offer to negotiate. But if you have any major doubts about the new role, or you know that your current employer won’t be able to match the one the new company gave you, or you think it will permanently damage your relationship with your manager, think twice.

No matter what scenario fits you, don’t forget that even with a competing offer, all the standard rules of salary negotiation still apply. Make sure you know your market worth and can speak clearly as to how much you should earn for your role, and make sure that you know if it’s a good time to talk to your employer about compensation.