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Talent Talk: Are You Ready to Deal With a Counteroffer?Talent Talk: Are You Ready to Deal With a Counteroffer?

In today’s intense job market, the odds are high that the candidate you want to hire will take a counteroffer into consideration. You need to have a strategy in place to respond effectively.

Paul Sturgeon

April 11, 2022

2 Min Read
businessman with question marks
Image courtesy of Alamy/Aleksandr Elesin

This is the final installment in our series of steps your company can take right now to make sure you’re not losing candidates along the way in your hiring process.

We talked about not losing candidates before you even get a chance to interview them, then we discussed the importance of a great first impression, not the candidate’s – yours! We went on to discuss the need for speed. Today we wrap this up with what is rapidly becoming the biggest challenge of all — dealing with offers being turned down, candidates with multiple offers, and the dreaded counteroffer.

The best way to prevent a candidate from turning down your offer is by knowing his or her motivations and situation, and you can best gain that knowledge by asking a lot of questions. If you testify in a court of law, you may be asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Note that those are three separate questions. Most candidates will tell the truth if asked, but probably will not feel an obligation to volunteer information.

The information you must know is far too extensive to list here but includes their full compensation needs (in some locations you are not allowed to ask what they currently make); their family situation, especially if relocation is required; and their motivations for leaving their current company and potentially coming to work for yours.

When I got into the business of recruiting for the plastics industry 15 years ago, I would estimate that about 10% of the time we had to deal with a candidate considering a counteroffer. Today I would put that at closer to 50%, even higher for some roles. Frankly, when it was 10%, we should have been more diligent, but we could usually get by telling them they won’t be with the company in a year if they take a counteroffer.

That isn’t good enough today. Fifty percent is way too high to roll the dice and hope for the best. In addition to coaching them along the way about counteroffers, you need to have a plan of attack to deal with a counteroffer. It simply cannot come as a surprise in today’s professional candidate-driven world.


paul-sturgeon-150.jpgAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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