How to Deal with a Counter Offer

Tony Wright

Published on
27 July 2022

So, you’ve found the perfect candidate, they excelled during the recruitment process and you’ve made them an offer.

They were about to accept, but there’s been a spanner thrown into the works: their current employer has made them a counter offer.

Even though you’ve offered them the role of their dreams, the counter offer involves a pay rise and more responsibility, and now they are considering taking it.

In this article, our experts explore how you should navigate this tricky situation, and the techniques you can use to reduce the chance of counter offers happening during the recruitment process.

Why are counter offers made? 

The reasons behind offering an employee a counteroffer varies. Sometimes, it’s because the company values the candidate’s professional input, but mainly it’s to avoid costs to the company.

It’s expensive to find a replacement, costing on average 20%-40% of an employee’s yearly salary. Not only through recruitment and training, but also in the disruption of usual operation due to their absence.

While the candidate may be aware of this, there’s a possibility they might still accept, but why?

The reason why counter offers are so tempting is that they usually address the issues the candidate had while working there.

Areas that once left them dissatisfied at work can be corrected, leaving them with a job role they are happier in, without the rigmarole of changing jobs and learning new processes.

So, based on that thought-process, what’s the best way to handle a counter offer as a recruiter?

How to handle counter offers as a recruiter

While it may seem like the benefits of a counter offer will be too tempting for your candidate to refuse, don’t lose hope, you haven’t lost them yet.

We’ve compiled four techniques that will significantly reduce the chances of your candidate accepting counter offers.

Take the bull by the horns

Address the possibility of a counter offer directly.

If you broach the subject early on in the recruitment process, you can prepare your candidate for how their employer will respond to their resignation, and objectively discuss their options.

You’ll also be able to gain an idea as to whether the candidate is likely to accept or not, which means you can prepare for how to best approach that situation.

Know your candidate

As a recruiter, it’s your job to build rapport with your candidate, so chances are that you’re already familiar with their career and ambitions, including their motivations behind them.

These details are helpful to know because you can discuss whether a counter offer will either help or hinder them to achieve these goals, as well as acting as a reminder to why they felt dissatisfied enough to seek another role in the first place.

If you genuinely feel that a counter offer isn’t in your candidate’s best interests, let them know why you feel that way, and remind them of why they started their job search in the first place.

This allows you to let them know that, while a counter offer may be tempting, it might not be the best choice for them. If their current employer really valued their work, they wouldn’t have let them get so dissatisfied in the first place.

Open communication

If you know your candidate has been presented with a counter offer don’t immediately write them off as a lost opportunity.

It’s possible that the candidate has never experienced a counter offer before and you’ll find that in the majority of cases, it’s just as disruptive to their plans as it is to yours.

Candidates who were previously confident about their next career move will probably find themselves doubting which is the best path to take.

If you abandon your efforts to recruit them, they could opt to accept the counter offer simply out of not knowing what else to do.

We recommend an honest conversation about the pros and cons of accepting the counter offer they’ve received to discuss their options. Your informative input might be just what they need to steer them back towards your job offer.

Pre-employment support

Bold new career moves can be intimidating, and will likely lead to your candidate doubting themselves. With a counter offer thrown into the mix, the security of their old job will suddenly seem extremely appealing, regardless of the reasons they wanted to resign.

To avoid cold feet, it can help to maintain friendly communication until their start date. An email or meeting here and there to touch base might just be enough to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision.

Recruitment services at Quantum

As a hiring manager, you’ve no doubt had to navigate counter offers and other difficult situations.

At Quantum, our international team of specialists can help you to manage the recruitment process.

If you have any further questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.