Counter offer
By Gemma Morris
14th February 2014

With the skills gap in Information Management and Business Intelligence growing ever wider, finding the right talent for your team is getting increasingly difficult. At KDR Recruitment, one trend we’re noticing is that more and more of the best candidates are receiving counter offers to stay with their current employers once they hand their notice in.

We’ve written before about the drawbacks of accepting a counter offer if you’re a candidate. But if you’re hiring a new team member, what are the warning signs that you’re about to be gazumped and is there anything you can do to mitigate the risk of this happening to you?  Watch out for the following telltale signs

  1. “I haven’t been able to hand my notice in yet.”

This is often just a delaying tactic and you may hear excuses like the candidate or their manager hasn’t been in the office. Whilst sometimes it’s true, you may also find that upon receiving verbal notice, the candidate’s employer has urged them not to put anything in writing until they can make a counter offer. Annoyingly, someone handing their notice in is sometimes the prompt to give them a payrise or promotion and candidates’ heads can be turned, depending on their reason for looking for a new job in the first place.

TOP TIP: At interview, interrogate people’s reason for leaving their current job and be wary of people only looking for more money or who just want more recognition. Ask them how they’ll react to a counter offer and take the opportunity to remind them about how much better the role with you will be.

  1. “Do you have a shower in the office?”

Or to put it another way, lots of questions over small details.  We heard the one above from a candidate who was considering cycling to his new job and in the face of a counter offer from his current employer, was having to weigh up small details that would make a difference to his working day. We’ve found that the difference between an 8.30am start or 5.30pm finish to the working day can be dealbreakers, as well as parking arrangements, commute times and even, how close the office was to a candidate’s wife’s office so he could continue to meet her for lunch. Really not much we could do about that one!

TOP TIP: If people are being put off by your terms of employment and working environment, do you need to think more carefully about making your package as attractive as possible? If you genuinely can’t put a shower in the office and that proves to be the dealbreaker, then perhaps the candidate wasn’t the right person after all. People who are motivated by your company and the role will overlook a slightly longer commute or working day.

  1. Radio silence

In our experience, most candidates can’t wait to hand their notice in. So when they go quiet on us, we get a little suspicious. Not answering calls or emails can be a sign that they haven’t really thought through the practicalities of their new job offer and if their employer has begged them to stay, they can be in a state of genuine confusion. Faced with the security blanket of a job they know, just the flattery of being asked to remain in post can suddenly make a career move feel less appealing.

TOP TIP: If you suspect that a candidate is nervous about leaving their current position (perhaps they’ve been there a long time), try to give them reassurances about the security of the new role with you and emphasise the excitement of a fresh challenge. A personal phone call from you or even your boss could win this type of candidate back over.

As employers increasingly realise that staff retention is cheaper and easier than recruitment, the danger of the counter offer is here to stay. Changing jobs can be an emotional upheaval so the more you can do to offer interesting roles, great working conditions and invest personally in new recruits, the more likely they are to ignore those counter offers and turn up on day one, bright eyed and bushy tailed. 

Have you fallen victim to the counter offer and how did you deal with it? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

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