Counteroffer Acceptance – Road to Career Ruin.

Remember that one? It was standard procedure back in the old days to send each candidate a copy of an article originally printed in The Wall Street Journal. In fact I still remember the stack of copies in the old forms file. Every candidate got one. Always.

Counteroffer Acceptance is an excellent article put together by Paul Hawkinson of The Fordyce Letter from years ago. I still use it to this day.

Over the years I’ve remained keenly aware that counteroffers DO happen. Frequently. As a recruiter with a vested interest in helping each candidate through their professional transition it is important that I address the topic with everyone I work with.

I’ve learned one VERY valuable principal. If I do my job correctly I am usually able to pre-empt what might have been a successful attempt at getting my candidate to rethink his/her decision. The key? Make absolutely sure you are talking to them about it BEFORE it happens. If done correctly – when the C.O. comes – it should be a CONFIRMATION of everything you have discussed. You see – if your candidate knows it’s coming – and are properly prepared for it – they will see it for what it really is: a way for their manager to stall off the inevitable until THEY are prepared to replace them on THEIR schedule.

What I have found is very simple really. Cover it BEFORE it happens – then you are helping them prepare for what most likely is going to occur. If you do not – and are bushwhacked mid-stream – you are going to most definitely sound like a recruiter who is then just trying to make sure they do not lose a fee. You will then be what many candidates think already – a recruiter only interested in your next fee.

My discussions with candidates about counter offers are very “matter of fact”. This IS going to happen. These are the reasons WHY. When the boss hits them with the love, attention and promotion they’ve been missing – make sure they see it as nothing less than a slap in the face!

If covered correctly – when the C.O. comes – it will be proof that what YOU discussed is in fact the truth. Prepare them for it.


4 thoughts on “Counteroffers – How to handle them BEFORE they happen!

  1. Jerry, I got a knot in my stomach just reading this post! Arrggghhhh :-<

    Thanks for this smart reminder of how to handle one of the most crucial steps in the process.

    BTW I always thought that Paul Hawkinson was the BEST!

  2. Morning Jerry, great post.

    Counter offers do happen, its part of the game. Employers don’t want to lose people they rely on, and will throw whatever they can at a person to keep them on board, if they are valuable to their business.

    In my experience I have found that in addition to preparing a candidate for the counter offer, and having them know and understand what to expect, it is wise to also remind them of the reasons they have gone through the process of finding a new job in the first place:

    ‘Will an extra 10k a year change the way you feel about the company? Your position? Will the culture change if you get a fancy new title? Now that your boss knows you’re okay with leaving, how will that change the relationship you have between them?’

    If a candidate still wants to go back and accept the counter offer, after being reminded of the reasons they wanted to leave in the first place, the majority of the time it won’t work out, and you will be working with them once again, probably within 12 months.


  3. Nice post and a very strong reminder that the art of recruiting is more than just picking up the phone. You have to add the “sm” to it, so it’s “the smart of recruiting.” There is so much more to this job then what I have heard from others, “Wish I could talk on the phone all day.”

    The oars all have to be in the water, at all times. Not such an easy task.

    You should just write a book, “Do What Jerry Albright Does.”


    By Paul Hawkinson, one of the better articles I had read on a subject like this.

    About 5 years ago, after being bitten on this on the staffing side, I had researched what I could do to prevent this in the future. To this day, this still stands as the cornerstone of what I build my arguments on.

    Great work Jerry. You beat me to the punch on my blog this week. Maybe I can take a different spin. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s