Implementing an Effective Counteroffer Prevention Strategy

Almost daily, I receive calls from practitioners who find themselves challenged by the fact their candidates are receiving an ever increasing number of counteroffers. Although not a new phenomenon, recruiters who do not learn to properly execute an effective counteroffer prevention strategy will continue to find their resources squandered as more and more placement opportunities are lost to this, the “dark side” of our improving economy.

In a previous article, I laid the foundation for an effective Counteroffer Prevention Strategy. This strategy rests on your ability to secure from the candidate timely answers to a series of questions that help “frame” your relationship. Once this positive frame of reference has been established, a more in-depth discussion is possible. From this discussion, you should be able to produce a clear picture of the candidate’s true motivations for changing positions.

(Click here for the questions Terry recommends asking every candidate.)

These reasons must be identified at the initiation of the relationship and reviewed, updated, and reinforced at every step of the process through offer acceptance, resignation, and the completion of all the components in the transition strategy.

This keeps the candidate’s focus on the opportunities of the future rather than the comfort zone of the past.

Fear of Change

Remember: Fear of change is the primary force at work in the mind of the candidate as they near decision-making time. This is a negative force that can best be countered by reinforcing the candidate’s motivations for change, and helping him or her understand that fear is a normal emotion for anyone in the process of voluntarily changing positions. Recognizing this fear is the first step in the process of helping the candidate keep it in check.

Defusing the likelihood of counteroffer acceptance begins at your initial interview with the candidate when you cover the Ten Reasons for Not Accepting a Counteroffer (email me to request a copy) and when you review a reprint of the article Counteroffer Acceptance: Road to Career Ruin.

Try Some Role Playing

Additionally, consider using role projection. Have the candidate project themselves into the “shoes” of their manager. Ask him or her to identify the primary motivations of the manager at the time they read the letter of resignation (must be in writing). Through proper questioning, you should lead your candidate to understand that the manager’s actions will be primarily motivated by self-interest. Losing a key employee will reflect negatively on the manager’s record and potentially compromise time schedules and the achievement of objectives.

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Regardless of what is said, your candidate must realize the manager will be out to protect themselves, and the counteroffer will be their tool for accomplishing this. Armed with this realization and focusing on their personal motivations for change, the candidate should follow-through on their commitments and reject any attempt at a counteroffer.

However, in order to properly execute this strategy, at a minimum you must establish a situational trust with the candidate at the beginning of your relationship. This will only be possible if you operate from a position of total integrity. This means that at all times you function in a context that is in the candidate’s best interest (best interest must be identified and agreed upon). Ultimately, this will prove to be in your client’s best interest as well as yours. This strategy begins when you properly “frame” your relationship with the candidate by securing answers to the four questions presented in last month’s article. (See the accompanying article.)

Although there is no guaranteed method for preventing the acceptance of a counteroffer, learning how to properly execute this strategy will allow you to effectively guide your candidates to decisions that ultimately prove to be in their best interest.

As always, if you have questions or comments about this article or wish to receive my input on any other topic related to this business, just let me know. Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit www.tpetra.com. Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.

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