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So you’ve found the perfect candidate. You offer them the job and they accept! Everything is going swimmingly, recruiter life is good. But then in a couple of days…maybe a week or two, you get a phone call or email from that perfect candidate saying that they’ve decided to stay with their current company because they’ve been given an offer that they can’t refuse. Is there honestly anything that makes you want to tear out your hair more?!
It’s a fact that 80% to 90% of candidates that accept counter-offers quit within six months or are terminated by their company within one year. Yet, in spite of these figures, recruiters are still plagued with counter-offers every day of their working lives. Now it could, of course, be argued that the types of candidates that accept counter-offers are the ones that were probably only looking for a quick fix, and chances are that they wouldn’t have been a good hire for your organisation in the long run – but how are you, as a recruiter supposed to identify these types so that you can weed them during the recruitment process?
Today, we’re looking at 5 different ways that you can minimise counter-offers, as well as tips to help you suss out what the candidates driving factors are for finding a new job.
#1: Tackle the topic head-on
The most effective way to discover if a candidate is likely to accept a counter-offer from their current company is to just ask the question directly. As much as you’ll be stating the obvious, you need to acknowledge that if they’re offered the job, they’ll be leaving their current position – so how will their company react to this? Are they likely to make a counter-offer to sway their decision? If this does happen, would they consider the offer? It’s not exactly going to be an easy breezy conversation, but by tackling the topic head-on, you’ll very quickly get a sense of what the primary motivators are for the candidate. If they hum and haw over these types of questions, or skirt around the topic, it’s quite possible that they’re open to accepting a counter-offer from their company. Similarly, you’ll know that they’ve probably come to the end of the road with their current company if they are steadfast in their answers. We’re not saying that you should make your decision about whether or not to hire a candidate solely based on how they approach these questions, but it really should give you a good indication as to where they stand with their current company.
#2: Find out what their priorities are
Ask the candidate all of the usual questions about why they want to leave their current company. Is there no opportunity for growth? Is it because they want to establish a new career path? Or is it simply down to cold, hard cash? Ok, chances are that very few candidates are just going to admit that the primary reason why they are looking for a new job is because they want more money. Not likely. Plus, if a candidate has read any of the thousands of online articles on job interview tips, they’ll know that bad-mouthing their current employer in an interview is a big no no. So how can you try to read between the lines? Simple, ask them why they want to work with your company! Sometimes you’ll find out more about a candidate not by asking why they want to leave their company, but why they want to join yours. You’ll soon find out if 1) They’ve done their research on your company and have solid, genuine reasons as to why they want to join the team, or 2) They’re really just looking for a quick fix – whether that’s more money, or to get out of the company they are currently in. You’ll generally know if they fall into the second category simply by using your own intuition.
#3: List all of the job perks
Be sure to mention all of the job perks that come with being an employee of your organisation during the interview. If the company offers health insurance to all staff members, or a company car/phone/computer – these are all things that should be mentioned to the candidate at the interview stage of the process. Never underestimate the power of perks. Of course, it’s a candidate’s pay packet that is going to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, but there’s no question about it; job seekers do the maths. Maybe you can’t offer them a salary that’s higher than what they’re currently on, but maybe when they add up all of the perks, they’ll still be in a better position moving to your company, even if their current employer makes a counter-offer. Remember, someone that is 100% content in their job does not generally go looking for another one. Yes, money talks but you’d be surprised how few job seekers actually consider it the be all and end.
#4: Extend support with the job offer
When you make a job offer to a candidate and they formally accept it, it’s really important that you extend your support when it comes to them resigning from their current position. Talk to the individual about your process around reference checking, but make it very clear that you understand that it’s a delicate subject and that you don’t want to put them in an awkward position. Establishing this trust with your new hire is essential. Ask them if they have already handed in their notice, and if so, when would be a good time to contact their manager for a reference. Reiterate that you’re delighted that they have accepted the job offer and are excited for them to join the team. Since you’ve already broached the subject of counter-offers during the interview, there should hopefully be little need to worry at this stage of the process, but nevertheless, it’s important that the new hire knows that they have verbally made a commitment to you, that they can trust you to not contact their references without permission, and that you are looking forward to them joining your organisation.
#5: Stay in contact
So the resignation has been made, references have been checked and a start date has been confirmed, you’re in the clear – right? Well, depending on the new hire’s notice period, they still have to spend anywhere from 1-6 weeks with their current employer, leaving plenty of time for a counter-offer to be made and accepted. At this point, you may think that you’ve done everything you can do to avoid the nightmare of a counter offer, but you still have one secret weapon in your recruitment arsenal…communication! The key here is to keep the new hire engaged during this lull period. Start the onboarding process as soon as the candidate officially accepts the job offer. Connect them with their new team, send them the details of what they can expect on their first day and email them over the forms that they can complete ahead of their start date. You never know what is going through a new hire’s mind – as humans, we have a tendency to second guess ourselves. Leaving any company and moving to another is a big deal. For recruiters, going radio silent during this stage of the process could very easily lead the new hire to think ‘better the devil you know’ and accepting a counter-offer should one be extended.
Conclusion: Unfortunately, counter-offers are always going to be inevitable when it comes to recruitment. You’re ultimately competing with companies that have already established a connection with the people that you want to hire. The great thing, however, is that these people have applied for a new job for a reason. By following these 5 tips, you will be safe in the knowledge that you have done everything in your power as a recruiter to counter a counter-offer!