Perhaps you like your job, enjoy interacting with your co-workers, and have a manager you've come to respect. There's just one problem: Despite your repeated requests for a raise, your salary has not gone up for as long as you can remember.
At this point, you have two choices: You can accept your current pay for what it is, or go out, land a job offer for more money, and use it as leverage to get your current employer to pony up additional cash. The question is: Is this tactic smart, and will it even work?
A competing offer might help make your case
Your company might claim it doesn't have the money to pay you more than what you're currently making. But chances are, your employer is just being cheap and taking advantage of the fact that while you've clearly expressed your dissatisfaction with your salary, you're hardly threatening to leave. No matter the specifics, having a better offer in your pocket makes for a pretty compelling negotiation tool.
Sharing that offer will light a fire under your boss to take action or risk losing you. And if you're a valued employee, that's not something your manager will want.
Furthermore, presenting that offer might finally get your company to realize that you're worth more than your current salary. Even if you've previously researched salary figures showing you're statistically underpaid in your field, your company might react more strongly to an actual offer than mere data. And if your company is intent on keeping you, it'll have no choice but to match that higher number.
But this tactic might backfire as well
Everything you just read is based on one key assumption: that your company wants you on board. But what if you're overestimating the value you bring to the table? If that's the case, then your manager may not care that you have another offer out there.
Similarly, if your company truly doesn't have the money to give you a raise, then it may have no choice but to let you go off in pursuit of that higher number. In fact, your boss might actually encourage you to leave for this reason, especially with a solid offer in hand.
That's why if you're going to use a job offer as leverage to negotiate a raise, you'll need to be prepared to leave your current role and accept that offer if things don't go your way. So before you utilize this tactic, think about the offer on the table. Will your new position make you happy? Will it contribute to your career growth? Remember, there's more to a job than just money, so don't go chasing a higher paycheck if it means sacrificing other aspects of your career and well-being.
Of course, it could very well be that your new job offer gives you the best of all worlds -- an engaging work environment, interesting tasks, great colleagues, and a better salary to boot. Either way, be prepared to accept that role after all is said and done, because chances are, it'll end up being your only option.