attracting talent: reacting to a candidate counter offer

You’ve just extended a job offer to the most qualified candidate and you’re sure they’re going to accept it and begin making preparations to join your company. Then it happens - they tell you their current company has offered a counter offer as a last attempt to keep them.

This is not uncommon in Hong Kong, especially now when the economy is on a positive growth. Companies are competing for talent and it is challenging for employers when it comes to dealing with counter offers in the recruitment process or know when to counter offer.


What do you do when your candidate receives a counter offer?

Establish the candidate’s sincerity.

When your candidate receives a counter offer from their current employer, you might want to take a moment to evaluate the candidate’s motives before you get drawn into a bidding war or feel compelled to increase the original compensation package and counter a counter offer.

Find out whether the job candidate was merely using your offer to negotiate the salary with their current employer. Not all applicants are equally interested in the opportunity you’re offering. It would be worth trying to gauge their seriousness before reacting to a counter offer.

You can gauge their level of commitment and interest in the job during the interview process. A sincere candidate will usually ask questions during the job interview to find out more about the opportunity. They will share with you some concrete reasons about why they want to leave their current employer.

Showcase your company culture.

The best way to prevent a candidate from accepting a counter offer is to ensure they wouldn’t even consider it in the first place. This is when employer branding comes in. It’s critical to ensure candidates know that you can offer a more promising employee experience than the one they currently have.

Company culture is becoming an increasingly important differentiator for candidates. A market survey found that 87% of the people joined a company because of their culture, and close to all (96%) agreed that when selecting an employer that the culture had to be aligned with their personal vision and values.

In your conversations with job seekers and potential candidates, make sure you highlight your company culture and publicise the benefits that they can enjoy. Social media channels are very effective in showcasing your company culture to your target audience. You can make it more credible by encouraging your employees to share their own experiences online. Candidates  like to hear from your employees about what it’s like to work at your organisation.


Reacting to a counter offer.

When a candidate receives a counter offer from their current employer, they could sometimes be persuaded to stay where they are. It could be because they are reluctant or unprepared to leave their comfort zone, or are promised an irresistible salary and benefits package or better career progression opportunities. Whatever their reasons might be, it’s important to know that you can’t always control a counter offer,  but you can control your reaction to it.

Before you reconnect with the candidate and negotiate a counter offer, consider if your organisation should hire someone who may not be fully committed to the new position.

However, if you strongly believe the candidate is a strong asset who will bring great value to the company, reiterating the push and pull factors and what opportunity lies ahead will play a persuasive part in their decision If you know you will struggle to find someone else with their skills or culture-fit, then increasing your offer might be the reasonable next step.

At the end of the day, the candidate reserves the right to pick the option that is best for him or her. It is counterproductive to pressure an undecided candidate into accepting your job offer. You are looking for a team player who will be with you for long-term, not someone who might regret their decision soon after accepting the job offer.

If the candidate choose to accept their current employer’s counter offer, our advice for you is to accept that decision graciously. Part ways on a positive note as you’d never know when your paths might cross again.

Want to know how to improve your employee experience? Download the latest white paper.

Looking to hire a committed team member? Reach out to us.

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