Counter-offers are on the rise...

As Search consultants, we know all too well the frustration and disappointment that comes in the form a great candidate, with whom our Client has fallen in love, accepting a counter-offer...

In recent months we’ve seen several instances of counter-offers influencing the outcome of a recruitment process.

How best to handle a counteroffer?

Well, from a Headhunter’s perspective, our aim is to prevent the serious consideration of a counter-offer - and the answer may lie in a very thorough interview process.

We strive to make sure that candidates we’ve approached, and who are interested in a career move, have given it some thought, have weighed the pros and cons and have come to a decision based on their consideration, not a spur-of-the-moment impulse.

But with all the preparation and thoroughness, we can still never rule out the possibility of a candidate getting and accepting a counter-offer. It is human nature and we are in the business of humans!

And from a candidate viewpoint:

If you are unhappy with your current position/employer for whatever reason and are exploring your options, you should be prepared for the possibility of getting a counter-offer at the end of the process (although some employers do have a policy of making no counter-offers at all!).

Most typical reasons for a company to make a counter-offer is to retain valuable knowledge and to avoid the cost and efforts of replacing you.  So let that sink in. Yes, there are some cases when accepting your employer’s counter-offer is the right move, but generally speaking, an increase in salary isn’t a magic wand - in fact with such an offer should come the realization that your employer has all but admitted that you are worth more to them than they have been paying you.

Interestingly, research published in Harvard Business Review suggests 50% of people who take a counter-offer end up leaving the firm within the next year anyway.

And what about Clients?

Having an ideal candidate reject your offer only to accept a counter-offer with their existing employer can be a bitter pill to swallow. After all, you put in the effort, met with the candidate, answered their questions, etc. but apparently, it was not to be.

Well, that may be the best outcome, given that the candidate was not motivated enough to join your company. It’s possible that a pay increase was the objective all along for the candidate, or when the candidate hands in her notice, she is genuinely surprised at the steps current employer is willing to take to keep her on board.

Sit down with your Search Consultants to examine the outcome, make adjustments if necessary (is it this one candidate? Have we been turned down before due to a counter-offer? Is our salary competitive? Should we avoid the competitor where we are targeting? And move on.

Veronika Mohasci
Senior Consultant, Budapest

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