|  September 24, 2015

Should you leverage a job offer for a promotion?

I speak to a lot of people about wanting to take the next step in their careers. After a few years in a job, they (rightfully) start to want more responsibility, a better title, and generally more money too.

However, companies don’t promote people just because they feel like they are ready, even if they’re doing a great job. They have to take into account a bunch of other factors:

  • Did the employee take on more responsibility?
  • Does the company have the budget to give a raise?
  • Is there a job opening available for the person to move into?
  • Does the employee really deserve a promotion or are they just doing their job as required?
  • What are the promotion policies? Do they only happen at certain points in the year?

While these are things that companies will typically take into account, there is no arguing that one big factor gets companies promoting like no other…

When you have another job offer in hand and are threatening to leave.

So this begs the question… should you go out and get another job offer to use as leverage for a promotion? Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter.

It’s certainly effective

There is no arguing with the fact that this tactic is effective. IF you are a good performer and your company doesn’t want to lose you, having another offer in hand will probably get you what you want.

Although the company will still need to factor in all of the points above, you have all the leverage and they may need to act quickly.

So leveraging another job offer can actually get you the results you want.

But there are some downsides

While this tactic is effective, it’s pretty inconsiderate to go through the interview process with another company knowing that you are only using their offer as leverage. In a typical interview process you might go through 3 rounds and take up 3-5 hours of the company’s time.

If you are actually considering working there, it’s all good. Ultimately taking an offer is a big decision and in the end you need to weigh your options and decide what is right for you.

But if you’re really just doing it for leverage… it seems wrong.

Another thing to consider is if you use another offer as leverage without your current company having any clue you were unhappy or looking, they’re going to feel a little blind-sighted.

Ultimately there are other ways to get what you want

So we’ve established that leveraging another offer will be effective, but if you’re interviewing specifically for that reason, it’s a little below the belt.

If you like working for your current company, but really need to take the next step in order to remain there longer term, my advice would be to simply be honest.

Have an upfront conversation with your boss and share that taking the next step is really important with you, and you’d like to do so with the company versus looking elsewhere. You should also ask what steps you need to take (or milestones you need to hit) to make that happen.

Always be respectful, but you should make it clear in the conversation that if you’re not able to grow within a certain (and reasonable) timeline, you’ll have to start to look elsewhere, even though you’d prefer not to.

Bottom line?

If you are genuinely interested in another opportunity and receive an offer, you should certainly let your company know and see what they can do before making your decision. However, you also need to be prepared to walk out the door if they just say, “okay, good luck!”

However, if you’re only looking for another offer to get a promotion, I’d suggest approaching the process in a different way that’s less time consuming and much more ethical.

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