5 Ways to Prevent Counteroffer Acceptance


I scan the Wall Street Journal every day before heading off to work.  But there are times I think I should just cancel my print subscription and read archived editions online because the news doesn’t really seem to change much – especially when it’s bad.  Here’s what I mean:

  • The people we thought were our enemies are now our allies.
  • The people we thought were our allies are now our enemies.
  • Stocks are going up, my 401K looks better, but some analysts say there’s a “correction” coming.  Do I pull out or ride it out?
  • Unemployment is finally coming down but wages are stagnant and real incomes haven’t risen in years.  Is that why I feel like I’m not making progress?
  • Job creation in technology is at an all-time high (especially on the left coast) yet memories of the “dot com bust” are fresh and analogies are being made. How secure is my job, anyway?
  • I’ve read we’ve been in this “recovery/recession” so long that it’s time for the next recession!
  • How many countries are in NATO again?
  • The guy sitting next to me on the plane is blowing his nose like crazy.  Will I get his cold, or even worse, has he been to Liberia lately?
  • Do I really need a flu shot?


You get the point.  There’s lots of uncertainty about small and big things that are happening – globally and locally.  And this is causing the “FUD Factor” to loom large.  FUD stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt.  While the term originates from old computer pricing strategies, FUD has come to be associated with any situation where fear, uncertainty and doubt play a real factor.   And that fits today’s job market, and especially counteroffers, to a tee.

That’s why, more than ever, people are accepting counteroffers from their current employers when they attempt to resign.  The confusion about large economic and political factors causes a lack of confidence that things are heading in the right direction.  When that happens, the “devil that you know” reasoning takes hold and people accept a counteroffer, staying put in jobs they may truly dislike!


The best way to insure that your candidate says no to the counteroffer is to incorporate the following five steps during every interview process:

DETERMINE THEIR MOTIVATION: There’s a reason why your candidate answered your ad or your recruiter’s call. If they are gainfully employed, there’s something they are not happy about in their current situation. Get to the bottom of that. I actually ask, “Tell me, what’s not happening at your current company that would cause you to look for another job?” Then, sit back and listen for the answer. Their answer may be critical information if you are faced with a counteroffer. The motivation behind their decision to leave a company doesn’t change if they decide to stay. Make that argument to them during the interview process.

SELL YOUR COMPANY: It’s amazing how many companies don’t proactively “sell” themselves during the interview process. (As a matter of fact, some companies feel it’s not inherent upon them to sell their opportunity, but rather it is the candidate who should be selling hard! Think again – especially in this market.) Tell your candidate what a stellar engineering team you have, how much opportunity the market holds, what a wonderful culture you have, etc. List all of the “sizzlers” about your company and the position. Then be sure to incorporate all of those elements into your interview.

MAKE YOUR OFFER UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: People like to be told they are wanted. And, the best place to do that is with them in the room. Make your offer in person, if you can. Tell your candidates how excited you are about the possibility of them joining the company, reiterate your growth plans for them and remind them of the contribution they can make. Then present the offer and review any details.

REMEMBER THAT TIME KILLS DEALS: Have an expiration date on your offer. I recommend one week, but if it’s been a lengthy interview process and you’re fairly sure your candidate will accept, you can pare that down. An offer presented on a Tuesday can have a Friday expiration date.

STAY IN TOUCH: The most critical time during the whole process can be the time between the offer acceptance and the start date.During that time, be sure to stay in close contact with your future employee. If you can, have them meet with people they’ll be working with; take them to lunch; keep them in the loop on important developments of the company. There are lots of things you can do to stay connected with that new employee. Do them!

You can’t change the fact that your candidate may get a counteroffer, especially in this competitive market. But, what you CAN do during the interview process will definitely affect whether they accept a counteroffer.

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