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When your Best Candidate Gets Offered a Pay Rise by their Current Employer

The exasperation of counter-offers will be a familiar painful experience for most of you.

All that effort in advertising, shortlisting, interviewing, testing, reference checking, and making an offer, just for your preferred candidate to suddenly ask you to match or beat the pay rise their current employer just offered in an attempt to keep them.

It doesn’t have to be that way if you anticipate counteroffers before you even begin the recruitment process, and in our quest to provide you with an ever-growing and constantly updating toolkit of recruitment, selection and development tips and processes from the best in the business, here’s a guide to anticipating and handling counter-offers from top London recruiter Tara Waterman:

Key points in anticipating and managing counter-offers:

  • Counteroffers can come from multiple sources. Keep in frequent contact with your candidates to keep up to date. Want to gain better trust? Tell them they don’t have to share the company names with you.
  • Broach the subject of counteroffers from the very beginning of the process. As much as many would prefer to sweep this under the carpet – it’s better for us to know now.
  • If a candidate tells you there’s nothing their employer can do to keep them? Ask them to break down the components of their role they are unhappy with – if that element was changed; would they want to stay? What if a new role all together were created for them?
  • Reconfirm at each key stage of the process:
    “How does this role compare to your current position?”
    “How does it feed your key motivators in ways your current role is unable to?”
    “How does this compare to other opportunities you’re considering? Which is your priority?”
  • If your candidate accepts a counter-offer – don’t force it down their throat. That immediate jump to “80% of candidates leave their role within 6 months” screams desperation on your part. Instead, congratulate the candidate on being counter-offered. Tell them it confirms what you already knew – they are an outstanding candidate.
  • Slow down, take the pressure off, ask insightful questions and listen to the candidate:
    “What aspects of your role will remain unchanged if you accept their offer?”
    “How do you think your resignation will affect the dynamics with your Manager?”
    “If you think about 2-3 years from now, where do you see that you will be with your organisation?”
  • Then you can give your view: “It can be extremely tempting to accept a salary increase. However, I will share with you that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer leave within 12 months. This is not only because the true reasons why the employee wanted to move on remain unchanged, or promises made were not kept, but also because the loyalty and stability built with the Manager and senior team are broken down.”
  • Remember, question your candidates. Uncover obstacles at the start of the process and support them at the end. Most importantly, if it doesn’t go your way – analyse what you could have done to change the disappointing outcome.

Author Bio

Steve Evans has a whole career dedicated to enabling employers to attract, recruit, develop and retain talented individuals and teams, with particular expertise in candidate testing and assessment before jointly setting up Accountests in 2013. Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical knowledge tests for accountants and bookkeepers.


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