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How Savvy Recruiters Tackle Counter-Offers Head-On

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

You found the perfect finalist for a job opening! Their experience is a great fit for the role, and your team is excited to work with them. You carefully put together a competitive compensation package and extend the offer to the candidate. After taking a couple of days to review the offer, the candidate comes back to let you know their current employer has counter-offered in an effort to get them to stay, and they’re considering it. The compensation is more than they expected, so they’re wondering if there is an opportunity to negotiate the offer you’ve made. You let them know you’ll take a look and get back to them by the end of the day, but secretly, you’re blindsided that they’re even entertaining a counter-offer when they’d been so excited about your opportunity.

If this is you, you’re not alone. A common hurdle recruiters face is the counter-offer, where a candidate's current employer attempts to retain them by making a compelling offer. However, recruiters can take a proactive approach to mitigate the chances of candidates accepting counter-offers. By understanding the candidate's motivators and addressing them throughout the interview process, recruiters can demonstrate the unique value their organization brings and discourage candidates from reconsidering their decision.

Every candidate has unique reasons for seeking new opportunities, and it is crucial for recruiters to uncover and comprehend these motivators. By doing so in the first conversation, recruiters can tailor their approach to highlight the specific aspects of their organization that align with the candidate's needs and desires– often!

During the pre-screening phase, recruiters should delve into the candidate's motivations, understanding their specific pain points and aspirations. This initial conversation sets the foundation for future discussions and demonstrates the recruiter's genuine interest in the candidate's career goals. At the same time, the recruiter is gaining valuable knowledge of what is really motivating the candidate to make a move.

For instance, if a candidate expresses dissatisfaction with poor leadership and a lack of development at their current company, recruiters should emphasize the outstanding leaders within their organization. By discussing the leadership style of the individual the candidate would be reporting to, recruiters can address their concerns and present an environment that fosters growth and mentorship.

Similarly, if a candidate seeks career growth opportunities, recruiters should share success stories of employees who have progressed within the company. Demonstrating clear growth paths and highlighting the organization's commitment to professional development can attract candidates who are eager to advance their careers.

A counter-offer can be enticing, particularly when it revolves around financial incentives. However, recruiters should remind candidates to consider the underlying reasons that led them to explore new opportunities in the first place. If it took the candidate’s employee a two-week notice to increase the employee’s compensation, is it really an organization they want to work for?

As the interview process progresses, recruiters should continue to highlight the organization's strengths that directly address the candidate's motivators. This may involve discussing the company's commitment to leadership development, career growth opportunities, or a supportive work culture.

Even when extending an offer, recruiters should reiterate the aspects of the position and company that align with the candidate's motivations. By doing so, they can solidify the candidate's decision to join the organization and reduce the likelihood of the candidate entertaining a counter-offer.

By effectively communicating how the recruiter’s organization aligns with the candidate's needs, recruiters can support candidates in confidently accepting an offer to make a move. By building a strong foundation based on trust, transparency, and a shared vision for growth, recruiters can attract and retain top talent, ensuring long-term success for both the candidate and the organization.

Something that can be shared with candidates is this infographic with some questions for the candidate to consider if their current employer extends a counter-offer in an effort to retain them:

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