Engaging candidates and combatting counter offers
In her recent ‘consultant in the spotlight’ interview, Building Services Design recruitment consultant Eleanor Geary highlighted a challenge both employers and recruiters face when hiring technical candidates – the counter offer.
Counter offers are an increasingly common problem in the construction engineering fields, as companies try hard to hang on to their most talented employees knowing that it’s going to be difficult to replace them. I understand where they’re coming from. It’s a candidate’s market and recruitment is challenging, why not offer employees a counter offer and avoid a recruitment cycle?
But from a recruiter’s point of view, both here at Energi and client-side, it’s really frustrating! Having found a great candidate – someone who’s engaged with the interview process and is clearly interested in the job – they get a counter offer and pull out of the process.
It’s not only frustrating, it’s also expensive. You’ve invested time and resources in recruiting that individual and now need to consider whether the second best candidate is good enough.
While it’s not possible to prevent a counter offer from being put on the table, there are things you can do to combat them when they do occur. Here are some strategies for dealing with counter offers:
- Streamline your recruitment process
I can’t stress enough how important it is to reduce the time it takes to hire. It’s not just the threat of a counter offer, it’s also the threat of an offer from a competitor or simply the candidate having second thoughts. The quicker you can progress the hire the less opportunity there is for other offers, counter offers or changes of heart. Streamline your recruitment process, cut out unnecessary steps, and make sure all stakeholders are available and able to commit to the process.
- Gauge how committed the candidate is to moving jobs
As part of your interview process try to gauge how committed a candidate is to leaving their current job and whether a counter offer will scupper your chances of a hire. This could help you identify the things that will engage the candidate with your company – for example your role might offer more opportunities or responsibility than their current job – as well as whether you should focus on other candidates who appear more committed. Be upfront and ask them about their current job, reasons for leaving, career opportunities with their current employer, and whether they would be tempted by a counter offer.
- Keep candidates engaged with your company
Don’t leave the candidate hanging, unsure what the next step is. Keep them engaged throughout the process with clear steps and regular communications. Make sure they’re excited about the opportunity and working for you. Send them press releases and other company information, and during their resignation period (when they could still receive a counter offer and pull out) keep the momentum up with plenty of contact. For example, schedule some socials to invite them to, get different members of the team to contact them to introduce themselves and start the on boarding process, and involve them in the work they’ll be part of by keeping them up-to-date with progress and news.
- Prepare the candidate for a counter offer
Take control of the process by being the first person to bring up the possibility of a counter offer. Then, when you make your offer and the candidate accepts it, help them prepare for resigning and the response they may get. Ask them to contact you if they do receive a counter offer, before making a decision, and if they are wavering try to be impartial and let them discuss their options with you.
- Support them during the resignation period
If they’re concerned about resigning try to give them as much support as you can, and make sure they know you’re available if they need to talk. You can offer them advice about the best ways to handle the resignation process, sharing your experience as an employer, and helping them through what can be a difficult time.
With regular contact from you and their future colleagues, try to keep them focused on the future and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Failing that you could also point them towards Alex’s candidate blog post on why you should never accept a counter offer!