How to Be Your Candidate’s Trusted Advisor

By: Jamie Reynolds


Imagine this scenario, it might not be too difficult as what we are talking about is happening more and more. You’ve been courting a candidate and they have spent the last 3-6 weeks talking with you, interviewing, and researching your company. You like them, they like you and everything is pointing to them being your next big hire. Now it’s offer time. You’ve put together a package that is going to be a win-win and you make the call. You’re excited, the candidate is excited, but they need a couple of days… and then it happens. Like cotton candy in the rain the whole thing dissolves. Either the candidate accepts a counteroffer, another company comes in and presents a stronger offer or something no one could account for happened. For now, we’re going to take a look at counteroffers and how to plan for, guide your candidate through and get ahead of retention’s last resort. 

Statistics have shown that 50% of candidates accept counteroffers. Employers now more than ever need to retain their current talent in a very tight job market. With that being said, assume your candidate will get a counteroffer. While at the end of the day, the candidate will decide whether they want to take the counteroffer, there are steps you can take to help guide them through that scenario. 

1. Start with the end in mind 

You have your candidate on the phone, why are they interested in speaking? You will want to really dig into what is missing in their current role. Is it a bump in compensation? They want to try a new industry. Maybe they are not feeling challenged with what they are currently doing. Once that is dug into, see what actions they have taken to address it with their current employer. Have they asked for that raise? Have they requested additional responsibility or asked about what their career track would be like? It’s important to make sure what you can offer in this opportunity will be a true career move. Additionally, if someone is solely looking for a pay increase, I would be wary of moving them through the process as they will most likely agree to a pay increase counteroffer. 

2. Interview Feedback 

Once your candidate has met with the hiring team you will want to make sure you get their feedback. This is the opportune time to hear from them about how this role stacks up with what they are currently doing. Ask them what the pros with this role are and if they can achieve what they are missing in their current role. It’s good to make sure they are talking about this to get the wheels turning on what would make this role better. It is also important to ask the tough question around how this role might not stack up with what they are currently doing. See if these are things that can be addressed and improved on for the candidate. You will want to have this conversation after each part of their interview process. It’s amazing how things can change over the course of a few days, so it is best never to assume anything. 

3. Let Them Know They Will Receive a Counteroffer 

You will want to let them know early in the interview process that they will likely receive a counteroffer and that almost every employer does this. You want them to know this is the norm and not something rare. This helps them mentally prepare for when it happens and doesn’t catch them off guard. I recommend directly asking them “Would you take a counteroffer and what would that offer have to look like?” Their answer will give you a clear idea whether this new role will be the right fit for them. I share some key pieces they will want to think about if they take a counteroffer. Some examples are as follows: 

  • The loyalty the employer thought you had has been broken 
  • A higher salary won’t change the role, company, or culture 
  • About 80% of candidates still end up leaving within 6 months and that goes up to the 90% mark at a year 
  • You should not have to resign to get your employer to show your value to them

 4. They Receive the Offer & Counteroffer 

Congrats! They got the offer, they verbally accepted and put in their resignation. Remind them when they go to put in their resignation why they accepted this role and the future career benefits. Remind them a counteroffer will be coming and not to accept a counter without talking to you. After preparing them through the process they should feel confident in declining the offer. However, they may come back to renegotiate the offer with you. Do what you can to ensure both the client and candidate feel good about the offer and wish them well on their journey together. 

Navigating all these scenarios is a challenge and when you are negotiating it is wise to ask yourself the same questions. 

  • Is my offer the best offer I can make to the candidate? If I counter offer their counteroffer, are they going to wonder why that offer wasn’t made in the first place? 
  • What can I offer if I can’t increase salary? Sign on bonuses, performance-related increases after 90, 120, 180 days (about 6 months) can help with ensuring the candidate knows you believe in them and that you are doing what you can to meet them.  
  • Is there something the candidate has spoken about that goes beyond compensation? Is there room for negotiation in PTO, do you have a policy or program to assist with further education?  
  • What is the counteroffer/competing offer? Are we arguing over a figure that may equate to the cost of 2/3 weeks of your recruiting budget? What would be the cost of not securing this person?  

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies are a team of Talent Optimizers. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We also know how to deliver unwelcome news and have people thank us for it.  

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