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The counter-offer mistake
By Gary Platt

 We're having an extremely busy year with newly created positions, but the downside to this is that our job is getting even harder. One of the main challenges we're dealing is with counter-offers.  We've seen more counter-offers this year than all of last year. Given this, I thought it might help to provide a few reasons why counter-offers aren't a great idea. From my experience counter-offers can be as frustrating for candidates as they are for the recruiting team. 

Just recently, a leading company hired my firm to help them find a senior level PR executive. We did an exhaustive search and found the right person. It took months of meetings, but everyone agreed we got it right and the candidate expressed interest all the way. After the offer was accepted, the candidate succumbed to the dreaded counter-offer. Thankfully we found someone else. Two months later the original candidate called me to see if the position was filled. Her company matched the offer and promised changes that haven't materialized. I've seen many similar situations and I'm sure most other recruiters have too.

Companies who make counter-offers often promote people before they're ready and many times resent being put in this position. It also sets a bad precedent with other employees.

This might sound idealistic, but candidates should withdraw before the offer stage if they aren't genuinely ready for a change and interested in the position. It's only fair to everyone involved.

I also think that being challenged and learning from new people is essential for career development. 

This all might sound self-serving, but I think everyone would be better off if candidates and companies think twice before making this mistake. I know many companies who don't try. They see it as an opportunity to bring in new talent. Companies would be far better off wishing people well and leaving the door open. 

My team has found that discussing this scenario with candidates throughout the process can save a lot of frustration at a late stage. 

Gary Platt
SRI / Strategic Recruiting, Inc.