“I’ve received a counter offer”. These 5 words can strike fear and a sinking feeling into most Recruitment Consultants – but are we doing enough as an industry to educate candidates on why counter offers are made? More importantly, are we giving them the confidence and reassurance that taking that leap into the unknown and not settling for the comfort of a suddenly inflated salary in the same old role is actually the right decision?

A lot has been written about the dangers of accepting counter offers, but not much from a recruiter’s perspective on how to safeguard against this.

There is not much you can do about a counter offer being made by an employer but you can prepare the candidate for the eventuality and influence the chance of them making an informed and often correct decision to politely decline and take the job they have been fighting to get for the past few weeks or months.

In terms of the discussion point, many recruiters leave it until the last minute, when the counter offer has already been made to try and salvage things and strike up the conversation. For me, this is the main mistake. The discussion on counter offers needs to happen much earlier in the recruitment process, ideally when the candidate comes in for a first interview.

Raising the subject this early builds trust with the candidate and opens up the dialogue in a preventative not reactive fashion. It also allows you to make an assessment of why the candidate is looking for a job and if they would be likely to accept a counter offer. If this is the case then you can advise accordingly before it takes place. Often the reasons for a candidate leaving a position are non-monetary and throwing a few extra dollars at the problems wouldn’t fix the issue. It’s more often than not a “band-aid solution”.

It is publicised that over half of candidates who end up accepting counter offers will leave their position within the 12 months that follow. Some surveys state that there is over a 90% drop off rate within the 18 months that follow an accepted counter offer.

The reasons behind the candidate wanting to leave are still there and they have often also lost the trust of their employer. The employer is likely to see that person as a flight risk and potentially replaces them with another employee anyway.

For employees the golden question is “why has your employer just suddenly offered you more money to stay?” In most cases it’s because your manager doesn’t want to deal with the disruption your departure could create, particularly for the short term. If you were so valued as an employee would your employer not have given you that raise or promotion already?

Educating candidates that they may receive a counter offer and the rhetoric around what that actually means is an important part of your role as a recruiter. The majority of the time, this will add value in the long run.

Counter offers will always be a part of the recruitment process, however, taking a proactive and transparent approach to discussing them can make a huge difference to the overall outcomes for your clients & candidates.

Until next time…