Be Counteroffer Intuitive

Happy Spring! Mother Nature played an unusually cruel trick on New Englanders this week by dumping ten inches of heavy, wet snow on us. Believe me, the only thing worse than shoveling ten inches of snow is shoveling ten inches of wet snow! It can be downright ugly – and just when you were getting excited by popping crocuses and warmer days.

Here’s another “ugly” situation…

The candidate to whom you have just made an offer has told you that his current employer has “upped the ante” with a counteroffer. Suffice it to say, you don’t feel great about that. The candidate feels downright sheepish and confused; his employer feels betrayed. The employer has made the counteroffer only because he knows how hard and costly it will be to replace that employee.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

The best way to insure that this scenario doesn’t happen is to do everything you can during the interview process to prevent it.

The following 5 ounces of prevention will go a long way toward landing that candidate on the first offer!

  1. 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.
  1. 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. You get the picture. List all of the “sizzlers” about your company and the position. Then be sure to incorporate all of those elements into your interview.
  1. 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 candidate how excited you are about the possibility of their joining the company, reiterate your growth plans for them and remind the candidate of the contribution they can make. Then present the offer and review any details.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Today is a gorgeous New England day. There is sparkling white snow on the ground with a clear blue sky above. My cross country skis are in my car and I’m off for one last hike. As I said, welcome to Spring!

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