Why it’s a bad idea to interview or resign in order to get a pay rise

Beate OeraCareer management, Resources for candidates

Negotiating pay rise - why it's a bad idea to interview or resign

The answer to this question ought to self-explanatory. After all, how can threatening to leave be a positive negotiating tactic?

Despite this, it is reasonably common to begin interviewing in the hope that it might spur current employers to appreciate what they might lose, and bump up salaries as a consequence. Indeed, it is a situation we come across regularly. There are often warning signals – recruiters tend to develop a very good ‘gut feeling’ for this – but they can be hard to spot, and harder still to call out.

For some candidates, this is a calculated move from the outset, whilst others are motivated by a desire to see what their options might be, with an underlying preference to stay put. Either way, it’s a bad idea, despite frequently being successful in the short term – here’s why:

1. Reputations matter

Negotiating pay rise - why it's a bad idea to interview or resignGetting an offer from another firm requires a great deal of time and effort – not just yours, but also that of the firm you are about to turn down (and your recruiter). Your own employer won’t be impressed with your conduct either, even if they do give you what you ask for. This is now quite a few people, whose time you have wasted, and whose opinion of you is plunging as a result. Most industries are relatively small worlds when it comes down to it, and you never know when you’ll next come across the people involved, or when their opinion will be the deciding factor in a future career move. As for your recruiter, that might not matter so much, but they will be reluctant to work with you again as well. This is also true if you make a u-turn without ever telling your employer, as you’ve still left a bad taste with the other firm.

2. You’re demonstrating a lack of commitment

Once someone has handed in a resignation, a wise manager accepts it. This employee is someone who is mentally half-way out the door already, and once this happens, they are unlikely to ever be fully committed again, and performance will suffer accordingly. Even if your employer does counter-offer, they will be busy making contingency plans for your next resignation, because they’re now expecting it, and this time they’ll accept it.

3. Happily ever after rarely comes true

The interviewing/resigning method of negotiating leaves a sour taste all round, and our experience is that it results in a swift move shortly after anyway. Why? Because it inevitably leads to a deterioration of your relationship with your employer. They will be questioning your commitment and your integrity, and you’re now in the ‘grass is greener’ mindset anyway.

4. It might backfire…

Negotiating pay rise - why it's a bad idea to interview or resignIt is quite possible that your employer will call your bluff and say goodbye in a cheerful tone of voice. Either they do not believe you will go through with the move, or, worse, you find that you are not as essential to their future plans as you thought.

Our advice is to demonstrate your negotiation ability in honest fashion. If you are after a pay rise, the best way to go about it is to schedule a face-to-face meeting, ideally when things are looking positive, give advance notice of your agenda, and prepare your case. Negotiate hard, by all means, but do so honestly.