Employers: When Your Top Candidate Receives a Counteroffer

Every experienced hiring manager knows how complex it can be to find – and retain – top talent for your company. So, when you discover a valuable candidate, you want to be sure that your particular job offer has the capacity to stand up against any others that your candidate may encounter.

If the individual is already employed, however, there is always the possibility that the current employer may present him or her with an attractive counteroffer to keep them on board.

Counteroffers - business woman on phone in front of office building

After all, if you are enthusiastic about having this candidate work for your company, it’s likely that his or her original place of employment has the same goal in mind. Consequently, if their employer offers them worthwhile reasons to stay — a raise, increased benefits, a promotion, seniority, etc. — then there is always the chance that the candidate may choose not to leave.

Fortunately, there are ways to handle the possibility of a counteroffer. Moreover, how you deal with the situation can mean the difference between gaining a new, talented employee and being left starting your hiring process from scratch.

Here are a few helpful tips to help prevent your best candidates from accepting a counteroffer.

Stay in consistent contact with the candidate.

If your candidate is already employed elsewhere, then he or she will likely be working for another two weeks at their current company. This is to be respected; however, maintaining an appropriate level of communication lessens the likelihood that the candidate will be influenced or swayed by someone else within their existing organization. If their company provides an attractive counteroffer, and you have not maintained essential contact, they may be more likely to feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm toward their present employer. The best way to ensure that your candidate’s interest in your company remains constant is through reasonable, but regular, communication.

Talk about the possibility of a counteroffer.

Avoiding discussion of a potential counteroffer early on in the process will not make it less likely to happen, but mentioning the possibility as early as the interview process can help create a helpful buffer. It’s worth asking the prospective employee what they would do in such a scenario. This presents a few benefits: (1) the employee will not be surprised by a counteroffer if one is posed, and (2) you will gain an understanding of what would make the employee want to stay with the original company.

Remind the candidate why you are a good choice. 

The candidate chose to apply for your position because there must have been something about it that was more desirable than his or her current job. Don’t hesitate to remind them what benefits you have to offer. This can include anything that makes your company stand above the rest: the office culture, an emphasis on teamwork, flexibility, the likelihood of promotions, or growth, etc. While their current employer may try to offer a pay raise or a promotion, there are other important factors which make a job worthwhile. Point out what makes your job especially appealing, and ultimately, the right choice for your candidate.

Help the candidate handle their resignation.

Resigning can be difficult, especially since the employee must usually spend a few weeks in the office before actually leaving. Much of what the candidate will have to deal with depends upon his or her superiors; however, issues can range from facing an irate manager to one who is just exceptionally persuasive. You can help coach your candidate through this by offering advice, asking questions, and providing a sense of support.

Arrange a way for the candidate to visit your office.

Allowing your candidate to spend some additional time with your organization can make the new job feel more like a reality, while boosting excitement for the impending position. It also allows the candidate to meet future co-workers and to understand their new office culture.

While it is always a possibility that a talented candidate may receive a counteroffer, we at Stewart Cooper & Coon concur that these actions will certainly help ensure that your most promising candidates remain enthusiastic about their new position – with your organization!

Fred Coon, CEO

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