There's no budget for a big raise, and there's no room for a big promotion where you work. What do you do if you want more money? It's long been axiomatic that you leave for a better-paying job elsewhere, or you get a better job offer and use it to coax a counteroffer from your boss. But the sluggish labor market has run roughshod over those axioms.
You may find that alternatives pay less or have fewer benefits than the job you have. Or an outside offer isn't the bargaining chip you hoped. Your employer can't or won't match it.
Since the slow recovery began from the Great Recession, workplace consultants have warned companies that employees will race out the door as hiring improves. A mass exodus hasn't happened yet. Voluntary turnover hasn't skyrocketed.
And a survey of employers by an American Management Association division finds a majority of employers aren't very concerned about employee turnover.
As of January, 69 percent of the management professionals surveyed saw nothing unusual about employees' looking for other opportunities, and 61 percent said the turnover issue wasn't urgent.
If you're trying to use a competing offer to bargain for a raise, be ready to accept that your employer might not be afraid of letting you go.
Though staff departures and hiring can cause costly transitions, your organization might be happy to pull in new talent, possibly for less money than it pays you. Your employer might decide the costs of keeping you outweigh the costs of losing you.
Here's the new axiom: Employers may pay more to keep the top talent they really want and need to keep, but almost everyone else is more dispensable.
Before you try a counteroffer gambit, you need a good idea where you stand on the keep-or-let-go continuum.