Managing counter offers

Written by Andrea Frith

In the current recruitment market where candidates are in such short supply even when offers are made and accepted, the onboarding journey can still hit plenty of bumps in the road. You may have already interviewed your short-list, made the offer and happily waited for the start date to arrive.

Unfortunately, this doesn`t always go to plan and you receive that call – your recruit has been made an offer they cannot refuse by their current employer. This will probably include a salary increase, offer of promotion and training etc.

Frustratingly it is a fact that most people that are encouraged to stay will be back on the market in 6 months when the feeling of being valued and all the attention they have received in this process has disappeared and all the reasons for wanting to leave their current role returns.

Most counteroffers are done in a last-ditch attempt to hang onto their valued talent and the realisation of the cost both monetary and time will be in replacing, recruitment and training a replacement.

Please see below a variety of actions that can be taken to pre-empt and, in some cases, stop this happening:

  • When first engaging with the candidate, at the telephone or face-to-face interview stage spend time ascertaining the main reasons for them wanting to leave their current role. It will always be something other than money, focus on trying to get to the bottom of the situation. It is a good tip to make a note of this reason and to potentially reiterate this back to them if they are counter-offered. If it becomes obvious it is just money, alarm bells should ring. You could soon be entering a bidding war and it may be better to concentrate on interviewing candidates who are focused on the opportunity and not just the salary.
  • Cover off and pre-empt with the candidate that they may be counter-offered. This should help dilute the feeling of being flattered into staying and make them understand the commercial benefits to their current employer of them staying. Explain that many candidates are counter offered and most regret not taking the opportunity 6 months later.
  • Stay in touch with the candidate regularly between making the offer and the start date. Keep the level of engagement high and try not to let the level of enthusiasm wane. You will stand a better chance of overcoming the counteroffer if you keep the momentum going and you are at the forefront of their mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to invite the candidates in again for a face-to-face meeting if the candidate is trying to decide. People buy from people and you will have a much great chance to influence a decision face to face.
  • Always sell your strengths and benefits. Make sure you don’t just talk money, concentrate on the opportunity and the working environment.
  • Know when to walk away. Some minds will not be turned and ultimately you do want people to want to work for you.

Every situation is different and there will be unusual circumstances that you may be able to influence however the above should provide some tips to help.



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