You’re sitting at a café. It is a typical afternoon in a 90s romantic comedy and you’ve just confessed your undying love to the misty-eyed person sitting across from you. You had me at hello, you say, a tear rolling down your cheek as you get down on one knee, please accept this remuneration package.
Alright, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but if you’re in the business of recruitment, you know how hard it can be to find someone who fits the bill perfectly. The problem is, the best people are often the ones in high demand, and in this post-pandemic environment of expansion, it can be hard to nab the candidate of your dreams, much more so if you’re trying to entice them into leaving their cushy job. All it takes is for their current company to suddenly recognise their worth and offer them a better salary, and that leaves you staring at their back as they leave the café. Cue sad rom-com music. Here’s how you can win out over a counteroffer and avoid all that heartache.
Know where they stand
From the get-go, you should have an idea of your candidate’s situation and motivations. If they are the ones who approached you, try and understand why exactly they’re looking for another position. Why are they unhappy in their current job? What would make them stay with their current employer? If you’re the one who approached them, what can you offer them that would make your proposition irresistible? Take the time to find out what makes them tick. If they feel like they’re not paid enough, offer them a more attractive salary. If they have grievances with their current management, talk yours up. If they feel unfulfilled and unchallenged, place them in a position that they can really dig their fingers into. Ask about what will make them stay with their current job, so that you’ll be able to get ahead of any counteroffer by offering them a package they can’t refuse.
Complete the transition
While you are looking to fill a position, remember that your candidate is about to make a move that could potentially be life-changing. Switching careers and companies is not a thing to be undertaken lightly, and it is natural to get cold feet. Check-in with your candidate at every step of the way. Start developing a relationship with them and keep a line of communication open. Involve them in onboarding meetings and team bonding activities to get them acquainted with the people and culture at your company. Help them to eliminate the fear of the unknown, so that they’ll be more at ease about the transition and less likely to pull out if they receive a counteroffer.
Help them resign
Assuming you’re in the business of recruitment, you should be familiar with the resignation process and how difficult it can be. Ask your candidate how they’re feeling about having to resign from their current post, and offer your support. This is usually only a problem if they’re leaving their company on good terms. If they’re feeling bad about handing in their resignation, you could suggest passing a handwritten note or some token of appreciation to their direct supervisor. Sometimes, it helps to just listen to your candidate and assure them that you understand how they’re feeling. Gently remind them they’re moving forward in their career, for better prospects and a brighter future.
Build rapport from the beginning
It’s all about the personal approach. In this day and age, we are so used to connecting digitally that we sometimes forget the world lies beyond our screens. As far as possible, ensure that your candidate can attach a face to your name. You don’t want to be just a name in someone’s message inbox. This is an important first step to building a genuine connection. After all, nobody likes feeling as though they’re just another cog in the wheel. Empathise with your candidate and strive to understand their ambitions and concerns.
Sell the job
Sometimes, a gentle nudge is all a candidate needs to remember why they signed up with you in the first place. Remind them of all the ways your company is better than their current place of employment. A better salary package is the most obvious perk, but things like more vacation days, flexible hours, and allocated work-from-home days are always good to reiterate.
Handle disappointments professionally
When it comes down to it, your candidate knows what’s good for themselves better than you do, and sometimes a counteroffer really is their best option. There’s nothing shameful about admitting defeat, especially if you can’t offer anything that will surpass the counteroffer they’ve received. Don’t burn bridges, but wish them well. They’ll appreciate your professionalism, and they might even refer you to someone who is a better fit for your company.