How to Tell Your Current Employer You Have Another Offer

Knowing when and how to deliver the news to your employer is a delicate situation. Here are career-coach approved tips to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved.

4 months ago   •   5 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
Table of contents

Getting a job offer while you’re employed is exciting—but also a bit nerve-racking. You may be wondering how to break it to your boss without burning any bridges. Perhaps you’re asking yourself whether you should use the new offer to try to get a raise or a promotion. Rest assured, you’re not alone. Many professionals find themselves in similar situations—asking similar questions.

The quick answer? Talk to your employer. Be honest. Express your gratitude for your current role, but also discuss potential improvements to your current position or counteroffers.

In 2023, this conversation is more relevant than ever. The job market is rapidly changing. More opportunities are popping up due to technological advancements. And professionals are increasingly looking for opportunities that’ll provide career growth, personal fulfillment, and work-life balance.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the nuances of telling your employer about the job offer—whether you’re planning to move on or negotiate a raise. We’ll give you step-by-step guidance on how to handle the situation tactfully yet professionally. By the end, you’ll know (1) the best time to share the news, (2) how to approach the conversation, and (3) how to recognize and balance the risks involved.

Key advice when deciding how and when to tell your current employer you’ve gotten another job offer
Key advice when deciding how and when to tell your current employer you’ve gotten another job offer

When to inform your employer

Knowing when to talk to your boss about the new offer is just as important as the conversation itself. Here’s how to time your disclosure for maximum effect and minimum fallout.

After the formal offer

Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. Wait for a written offer from the new company. Then decide which moves to make. There are two reasons for this. First, a written offer proves that the new opportunity is legit and not just a verbal promise. Imagine compromising your current position because you disclosed an offer that ended up falling through.

Second, a written offer outlines the specifics: salary, benefits, job responsibilities. These are the hard facts you’ll use to strengthen your case when talking to your boss.

Before saying “yes” to the new job

Before accepting the written offer, talk to your boss. Let’s say, for example, you’re a project manager and receive an offer for a senior role somewhere else. Letting your boss know before you accept the offer gives your boss a chance to counteroffer. Perhaps your boss offers you a promotion, more interesting projects, or a salary bump.

This step is about respecting the relationship you’ve built with your employer. It's a professional courtesy that maintains goodwill, regardless of your decision.

How to Tell Your Current Employer You Have Another Offer

Telling your current employer about a new job offer is a conversation that requires careful planning and tact. Here’s a detailed guide on how to approach this delicate situation.

Request a private meeting

Contact your boss to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Be discreet about your reason for the meeting to avoid speculation. You might say, "I have a significant career development matter to discuss and would value some private time to talk it over with you."

Choose a place that ensures privacy and minimal interruptions. A quiet office or a reserved conference room would be ideal. Avoid public spaces like coffee shops where the conversation could be overheard.

Begin with gratitude

Start the conversation on a positive note. Acknowledge specific experiences or opportunities that have been valuable to you. For example, "I am truly grateful for the leadership opportunities and the mentorship I've received here, particularly on projects like [specific project]."

This approach sets a constructive tone for the conversation and shows that you value your current job, regardless of your decision to leave.

Be direct and tactful

Clearly and succinctly say that you’ve received another job offer. For instance, "I wanted to let you know that I've been offered a position as [specific role] with [new company], which aligns with my career path in [specific field]."

Avoid complaining about your current role. Focus on the new opportunity and how it aligns with your career goals, not on the shortcomings of your current position.

Discuss your motivations

Explain what you like about the new position. For example, "This position offers me a unique opportunity to work in [specific area of interest], which is a direction I’ve been passionate about pursuing."

Emphasize how the new role aligns with your personal growth and professional aspirations, such as gaining experience in a new industry or working with cutting-edge technology.

Indicate openness to counteroffers

If you are willing to consider staying, mention the conditions under which you would reconsider. Phrase it like, "I am open to discussing how my current role could evolve to more closely match these new opportunities, particularly in areas like [specific skills or responsibilities]."

Clarify what changes or improvements in your current role would influence your decision to stay, whether it's a promotion, salary increase, or new responsibilities.

End on a high note

End the conversation with a statement that reinforces your commitment to professionalism. For example, "Regardless of my decision, I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition and will continue to deliver high-quality work during this period."

This demonstrates your goodwill and helps maintain a good relationship, regardless of your final decision.

What to consider before sharing your news

Revealing a job offer to your current boss is not a decision you should overlook. It's essential to weigh the potential outcomes and how they might affect your professional life. Here are some key factors to consider:

Relationship dynamics

Consider how this news might affect your relationship with your boss and co-workers. For example, if you have a supportive boss who has invested significantly in your development, he or she might feel blindsided or disappointed. On the other hand, if you're known as a high performer, your boss might not be as surprised and could even be prepared for such a situation.

Think about your team’s dynamics. How might your potential departure affect ongoing projects or team morale? For instance, if you're in the middle of a crucial project, your news might create tension or uncertainty within your team.

Share news of your offer only if you're genuinely considering it. If you’re using the offer merely as a sounding board to assess your current job's worth, it might backfire and damage trust.

A counteroffer

Be mindful that a counteroffer is not a certainty. You need to be prepared for the possibility that your current boss may not counter, or the counteroffer may not meet your expectations.

Assess how a counteroffer would align with your long-term career goals. For instance, if the new offer provides opportunities for advancement or exposure to new skills that your current job cannot match, a counteroffer might not be enough, even if it includes a pay raise.

Consider how accepting a counteroffer might affect your standing in the company. Will you be seen as loyal, or will people question your commitment?

Preparing for an expedited exit

Understand that once you reveal you're considering another offer, your employer might immediately begin preparing for your departure. This could mean a quicker exit than you anticipated.

Think about how you would handle an expedited transition. For instance, if your boss asks you to leave sooner than expected, do you have financial security or the ability to start the new job earlier?

Prepare a plan for a smooth handover of your responsibilities. Documenting ongoing projects and processes can demonstrate professionalism and help maintain positive relationships.

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