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Think we might be “jumping the gun” with the title of this article?

Well, with top talent very much in demand these days, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the very best candidates are going to receive some sort of counter-offer from their current employer once they accept an offer of employment from another organization. Now, it is our personal belief that the best companies don’t make counteroffers, but in this candidate-driven marketplace, companies can get desperate and may decide to make one.

However, you want that talent. You want that candidate to work for you instead of the competition. How do you ensure that’s the case? How do you “counter-offer proof” your star candidate? By doing the following three things:

#1—Accurately gauge the candidate’s sincerity.

What does this mean? Simply put, finding out exactly how serious they are about making a transition. A clear-cut, A-level performer who is only half-heartedly “kicking tires” just to see what else is available is much more susceptible to a counter-offer than somebody who is dead-set on pursuing a new employment opportunity.
A word of caution, though: an A-level performer who is dead-set on pursuing a new employment opportunity because of money and/or compensation is at risk to accept a counter-offer. It all comes down to motivation. If money motivates a person to leave, then money can be used to convince that same person to stay. However, if the person outright dislikes their boss, more money won’t make that much of a difference.

#2—Prepare the candidate for the possibility of a counter-offer.

The best way to accomplish this is to talk to them about it. Broach the subject once it becomes obvious that an offer is imminent and that they’re going to accept it. If you’re working with a specialist recruiter, it is the recruiter’s responsibility to have this discussion with the candidate. But if you are the one speaking with them, study their response and behavior as you discuss the counter-offer. Their reaction will provide insight into whether or not they’re at risk for accepting it.

Ask them upfront if they would accept a counter-offer. Candidates who never discuss a counter-offer—and more importantly, never verbally indicate that they will NOT accept one—are infinitely more likely to do so. Let the candidate know upfront that once they give their “word of honor,” you are asking them to commit to your position and not accept a counter-offer. Trustworthy people do not want to go back on their “word of honor” and be perceived as not keeping that word.

#3—Provide a superb on-boarding experience.

You must remember that the on-boarding process does not start with the candidate’s first day of work. It starts the moment they accept your offer of employment, which means you should be on-boarding them at the same time they might be receiving a counter-offer from their former employer. This on-boarding experience should make them feel welcome and wanted. (After all, you do want them.)

If the candidate submits a two-week notice, somebody from your organization needs to be in contact with them in one form or another every day or every other day during those two weeks. Phone calls, emails, and even a video call like Skype, if that’s feasible. Yes, you’re busy, but imagine how much busier you’d be if the candidate accepted the counter-offer. If they are local, take them to lunch during this period of time in between their resignation and their start date with your organization. Send them a care package in the mail with items that have your company logo on them, such as a shirt, pens, etc., along with a handwritten note welcoming them to your organization.

If you’re about to hire a superstar candidate, then you have to expect that they’re going to receive a counter-offer. Top talent is too scarce and too important in this marketplace to just let it get away.

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