Pre-empting Counter Offers – How to Alleviate a Candidate accepting a Counter Offer

The most frustrating thing for a recruiter to encounter is that phone call from a candidate, who has already signed and accepted an offer, that they have changed their mind.  They’ve been counter offered by their current employer and are going to stick with the devil they know.

We train our Recruiters at RSG to safe guard against such things (but it still happens occasionally unfortunately).  We talk consistently about the prospect of a counter offer and how they will respond in such a situation.  You’d be surprised how many people have no idea that this could happen.  We raise the topic and discuss it deeply.

We discuss “why someone is looking for a change?” We keep in constant contact throughout the process.  We understand the awkwardness of resigning, and coach people through the process. We talk about what it means to get a counter offer.  We ask questions to embed the reasons to leave, will the counter offer really change the things you were looking to get away from?  Will $5000 a year really make that much difference?

We push clients to expedite the paperwork, which can be a tiresome experience, especially in those larger organisations with “process” to unwind.  We advise against the cheeky “Low-ball” offer (not just because we get paid more the more you pay the candidate) but we want to ensure the relationship is starting on the right foot.  Someone changing the figures at the end of a process, will not leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth.

We explain the culture and build excitement as much as we can.  It’s our job after all.

That said, not a lot gets said about what Companies can do to help us and of course in turn, help themselves in this process.  After all, the recalcitrant hire, causes the biggest issues with the organisation.

As a company or a Hiring Manager, here are some things you can do to alleviate the chances of a candidate accepting a counter offer:

1. Keep the recruitment process moving quickly.

Time kills deals.  If you like the candidate, keep pushing through.  Don’t wait to see one more candidate, make a decision, move the process and get it done.

2. Be involved in the closing.

As Recruiters we love control.  It’s what we do.  It’s what we get paid for.  We close deals.  So leave the details and the negotiations to us (it’s what we do every day).  But keep involved in the conversation.

3. Involve the team.

Connect and welcome on Social Media, you know, things like LinkedIn and Twitter, ask people to reach out and welcome the new hire to the fold.  Share company blogs (maybe not publicly), articles and newsletters.

4. Invite to company events or a team lunch

There may be four weeks or even three months notice to be given. Keep them involved in the organisation.  Invite to social club events, company meetings or team bonding sessions.  If there aren’t any scheduled… Make some up.  Set a coffee or lunch date. Keep the candidates connected with the company and get them invested as early on as possible.

5. Send a welcome pack

Immediately upon signature.  Send something welcoming them to their home address.  Some T-shirts, a mug, pen, usb, whatever, but something physical and a handwritten letter from the hiring manager or higher welcoming them to the business.  This works so well, you get the whole family unit involved in the decision.

6. Something a little different

I know companies that give people a holiday, yes, pay people to go on a holiday before they start work.  That would be a great incentive.  How about signing bonuses? Sports teams do it, why not?  Food for thought to make sure they start.


The most important thing is not the merchandise.  It’s what your Mum used to say – it’s the thought that counts.  Put some thought into the process.  The dance does not end at the end of the first chorus. Understand your candidates, talk to them throughout the process, know their drivers, their fears and uncertainties (trust me they will have some), reassure them of the positive affect they will have on your team and company.  Openly communicate and often.  Don’t give them the opportunity to have their head swayed by promises of their current company.  Don’t fall into the trap of signing and forgetting.  Put this communication plan into your hiring strategy.  Trust me, your results will improve.