Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surefire Way to Get a Raise

A programmer friend in Israel has found a way to get a raise that never fails (yet!).

All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

1. Decide you want to leave the job
2. Find another job at a better salary
3. Tell your current (and soon-to-be previous) employer that you are leaving and what your new financial conditions are
4. A raise (matching the new offer) will follow almost on-the-spot

This has happened to him twice in recent years, and I know others that have had identical experiences.

I am not sure if this is something specific to Israel. Something similar happened to me in Israel totally outside the realm of employment. There is competition for local residential telephone/DSL service between the telephone and cable companies. Previously I used the telephone company service, but then I heard of an offer from the cable company that was much better. I called the telephone company to see if they would match/beat the offer of the cable company (since living in Israel I find myself doing this, something unheard of in the US), as I preferred not to go through the hassle of changing. The phone company did not agree. So, I switched my telephone/DSL service to the cable company. Afterwards, when I called up the telephone company to cancel my service, they immediately did offer me a deal that was even better than what I got with the cable company – however at this point it was too late.

I understand from these situations that companies are playing the odds, basically assuming that the majority of people, whether customers or employees, based upon inertia and other factors, will not look around for a better deal. Sure, companies will lose some individuals because of this attitude, but in the global long run they believe it is the most effective way to operate. Maybe they are even right…

What can the individual employee learn from this mode of operation in Israel?

For some people, your first inclination may be to skip step 2 (and possibly step 1) above, and have the threatening salary conversation with your boss, even though you don’t have another job offer. Unless you are a pretty good poker player though and are certain that you a valuable and difficult-to-replace role employee, this type of bluff is obviously risky, as your employer may not agree with your analysis of your worth and help you out the door. Of course, it is possible to tone down the initial conversation without mentioning a phantom job offer, a more traditional “I deserve a raise” discussion.

Whatever way you decide is best in your specific situation, being prepared for this conversation with a reminder of your value to the company and accomplishments provides you with the best opportunity to sell your worth to your boss. Inherent in any such discussion is the unsaid threat of looking for another job that does meet your needs, and sometimes that is enough. If you don’t initiate the meeting though, you will often find that it doesn’t ever occur.


  1. This post kind of made me chuckle. It appears as if you are advocating blackmailing your boss in order to get a raise. This tactic is actually widely used in the United States as well, but you should remind the reader of the costs associated with this tactic.
    1. You must be ready to use this tactic at the right time, who knows if you would have been getting promoted in a week anyway and then your tactic has been used up. This strategy only works about one time per job as using this every quarter will not do wonders for your long term advancement in your position.
    2. You must be ready to leave your job. Playing chicken with your boss and career can actually lead you to the door. So if you don't have a job, better think about this tactic long and hard.
    3. This may end up doing more harm than good to you at work, as you are essentially blackmailing your company into paying you more and thereby creating an environment of hostility (yes, towards you).

    From a management perspective, this tactic is pretty awful for the company as a whole. Letting one employee blackmail you isn't what you would call a sustainable model.

    Thanks for the great blog. It's great to see the same shenanigans occur in Israel too!

  2. It's important to demonstrate employee value, but not at the expense of alienating a current employer. Still, the professional and customer service examples provided highlight that competition and choice are keys to successful negotiation.