How Do You Combat a Counteroffer – and Should You?

Strategies to Ensure You Land Your Chosen Candidate

You’ve made an offer to the ideal candidate for your open finance job. But a problem has arisen. The candidate’s current employer has made a counteroffer.

What do you do? Should you improve your offer, or do you let the candidate go and restart the hiring process?

Why Are Counteroffers Made?

Before deciding whether to compete with a counteroffer made to your star candidate, you should seek to understand why the counteroffer has been made. Employers may have different motivations for wanting to retain their employee, which include:

  • The candidate really is a star employee, and they don’t want to lose him or her
  • The talent shortage is making it difficult to hire, and the candidate’s employer will find it hard to replace their employee
  • It can be expensive to recruit a replacement, and this cost tends to rise the more senior the employee

How do you learn why the counteroffer has been made? A clue is in how it was worded.

For example, the candidate may have been offered a promotion which had until now been confidential. Or the candidate may have been told that the culture at other companies just doesn’t match up to their present employer. The candidate’s boss may have promised a promotion and raise soon.

Knowing how the candidate has been counter-offered will help you decide your strategy.

What Form Does the Counteroffer Take?

Another key piece of information is to learn the details of the counteroffer. These may include:

  • A higher salary
  • A bonus to stay
  • Promotion, or more responsibilities
  • A change in the candidate’s boss
  • The promise of more money in the future

What Is the Candidate’s Motivation?

You should also consider the candidate’s motivation for seeking a new job and now considering accepting the counteroffer.

If the candidate’s main concern is the money, is this the type of hire who will stay with you for the long term? Might your job simply be a steppingstone to the next, higher-paid position?

Decide If You Will Combat the Counteroffer

Weighing up the above three considerations, you must now decide if you wish to make a new, improved offer.

If the candidate’s employer has indicated what a loss the employee would be to them, this might cement your decision to hire the candidate.

On the other hand, does the fact that they are considering the counteroffer muddy the water? Does this cast doubt on the candidate’s long-term commitment to you?

How to Counter a Counteroffer

If you decide you must have this candidate, there are some tactics you should employ to counter the counteroffer.

If the counteroffer is monetary, you could either offer a signing bonus (a one-off payment that will have a lesser impact than a higher salary), a higher salary, or tweak commissions and bonuses.

You may be able to offer enhanced benefits, or ensure that you deliver to the candidate’s most pressing desires (such as a more flexible work schedule, or work-from-home possibilities).

If career progression is the issue, then reiterate how you support your employees in their development, and that you have defined career pathways.

Prevention Is Better than Cure

A study by LiveCareer found that two-thirds of managers have made counteroffers to employees who have discussed moving to a new job. Our experience is that most of these counteroffers could be avoided, and certainly the candidate be signed, if hiring companies follow some basic rules:

Be Prepared for Counteroffers

Make sure that your interview process probes the candidate’s motivation for seeking a new position. Ask him or her if a counteroffer would be expected, and what response would be given.

Make Your Best Offer First Time

Make sure that you are up to date with industry salaries and total compensation packages, and always make a competitive and best offer first time. If you do decide to improve your offer to compete with a counteroffer, this could cast doubt into the candidate’s mind (were you trying to hire them cheaply?).

Frame Your Offer to the Candidate

Make your offer as simple and concise as possible. Specify:

  • Salary
  • Health and medical benefits
  • Other perks, including commissions/bonuses
  • Retirement benefits

Crucially, personalize the offer by detailing how the job and your company match the candidate’s most explicit wishes. For example, if the candidate has expressed a desire to work flexibly so that he or she has time to take care of personal needs during the week (such as childcare), include how you will make this happen.

Stay in Touch Throughout the Hiring Process

It’s crucial to stay connected with your candidates throughout the hiring process. How you communicate with them says a lot about your culture and about you as an employer.

Another tactic to help candidates remain engaged with you is to invite them to dinner with your team. This will help them to gauge your positive work culture and the team they will be working in.

Engage the Candidate with a Charm Offensive

Finally, it’s imperative to keep the candidate engaged during the offer period. This is the time when he or she is most susceptible to promises made by their current employer.

Send the candidate company information and press releases. Send invitations to company events. Ensure that HR calls the candidate to confirm payroll details. Have IT contact the candidate to request details for computer set up. And ensure that the hiring manager contacts the candidate regularly ─ daily, if possible.

How We Help Hiring Companies to Combat Counteroffers

When we work with hiring companies, we make sure that we fully understand their requirements. We will discuss the current jobs market, and have our fingers on the pulse of current best practices and salary and compensation packages.

When searching for candidates for your role, we always learn about their motivations. We discuss all aspects of their needs and wants before presenting them as a candidate for your role. This means we are in a unique position to guide hiring companies throughout the hiring process, ensuring that the offer made is both competitive and personalized. We stay in touch with candidates on your behalf, helping to iron out any issues and ensure they remain fully engaged.

Should a candidate receive a counteroffer, not only are we perfectly placed to advise you on how to proceed, but we are also in a relationship with the candidate that allows us to be candid and remind him or her of the reasons why accepting your offer is the best choice.

If you find you are losing the most talented candidates for your finance jobs to counteroffers from their current employers or other hiring companies, it’s time to take positive action. Contact 6 Degrees to learn how we can help.

Take the next step in your job search today