Shawn Fier

Monday, 02 February 2004 06:40

Hold your hire

It can be frustrating when a candidate for a job at your company accepts a counteroffer from his or her current employer.

You've committed resources and you stopped interviewing two weeks ago, hence your second-choice candidate has accepted another offer and is no longer available. The individual you thought you'd hired just sent you an e-mail explaining he or she has elected to stay with the present employer and hopes you understand. More money, promises or talk of how that person is "like family" to the company no doubt took place.

Ironically, the majority of individuals who accept counteroffers are

soon unemployed or are looking again in the near term (more money never came, promises were not kept or the reason that stirred them to look originally still exists.)

How can you reduce the probability of this happening to you? The following will help you guard against the susceptibility to a counteroffer.

First, evaluate the candidate's propensity for accepting a counteroffer during the first interview. Why is he or she looking for a new job? If the answer is more money, you're looking at a counteroffer in the making. Make sure you get a good understanding of his or her current compensation plan, including the date of the last review.

Investigate any projects to which the candidate is contributing. If participation is significant, ask how he or she will transition out. If the individual is critical to the organization's success and lacks a clear transition, a company will no doubt make a counteroffer to retain the employee.

Companies consider counteroffers a simple business decision, even if there are no plans to keep the employee after the project is completed.

Perform a simple cost analysis -- false promises are free, but there are real costs associated with filling a vacated position.

The candidate's present employer will pay a recruiter's fee, the interviewing process will take people and resources away from productive tasks, the company may have to pay the incumbent more money and pay for costly training. When it's all said and done, the new employee will lack a true understanding of the company's culture and political workings.

Be up front with the candidate about your concerns. Explain that a counteroffer is simply a business decision. You may want to ask the following questions.

* Are you expecting a counteroffer?

* Does your present employer extend counteroffers?

* Have you ever accepted a counteroffer?

* What are your feelings about counteroffers?

The answers may give you valuable insight into the candidate's genuine desire to leave his or her present employer and join your team. If you have two equally qualified candidates, this information may help you decide who receives your offer of employment.

Finally, after your offer has been accepted, stay in contact with the candidate. Have him or her phone you after giving notice, and find out the present employer's response.

After the candidate gives notice, have him or her visit the new employer to fill out pre-employment paperwork, or take the person out for lunch.

Leaving a place of employment can be traumatic. By staying in touch with a candidate, you make that person feel wanted, and the decision to join your team is validated.

By explaining the true nature of a counteroffer, the candidate understands what is about to take place when he or she gives notice, and any counteroffer loses its luster.

Shawn Fier is business unit manager of Systems Research Inc. Reach him at (847) 585-8806 or sfier@systemsresearchinc.com.

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