QUESTION: Mike, this year has been tough. More and more candidates are either turning down offers or taking counteroffers. Any quick tips, scripts, or methods to decrease the number of counteroffers that fall off?

For part 1 of my answer to Liz’s question, check out last week’s blog, How to Stop Losing Candidates to Counteroffers.

Creating Alignment and Desire for the Candidate

Here we will discuss the actual offer process, which is my favorite part of recruiting. Throughout the process, you co-create alignment with the candidate and the opportunity. You ensure the opportunity meets all or most of their career problems and aligns with their vision for their future career. They like the culture. They want the opportunity. Then you approach the money.  

Identify the Range

First, I like to get two numbers from the candidate. I need to know the number at which one dollar below it is a hard no and what is the number the candidate would be excited to see.  

You know, Mike, I am at $95,000 now. I will probably get a bump to $100,000 in a couple of weeks (or months). But I like this opportunity. I would make a lateral at $100,000. I would love to see something between $105,000 and $107,000.  

Confirm Commitment

I would say to the candidate: 

If I get at least $105,000 toward the higher end of your range, do I have your word of honor? Is it a hard yes?  

Do I have your word? Meaning, I do not care if a client comes back with a counteroffer, I do not care what other competing offers come up, or whether new opportunities blindside you; it is a firm, yes, and you are onboard two weeks after that?  

Yea, Mike, Yea. I can agree with that.  

I would also say:

I am really paranoid. Can you say, “Mike, you have my word of honor that at $105,000, I will accept, and I will be there two weeks from the offer date?  

I make them actually say it. I cannot tell you how many times candidates would call me at the point between accepting the offer and showing up. Always talk to candidates after they resigned to reassure them because usually, that is when they feel shaken. 

Candidates often told me:

You know, Mike, oh my gosh, the counteroffer was tempting, and I was sitting there thinking, you know what, I gave company XYZ, and I gave Mike my word. I said that to my boss. He didn’t care, but I told him I was not changing my mind. I gave my word.

Obtain Client Buy-In  

When you discuss the offer with the client, your approach depends on your contract and how intimate you are with them. I will never lie to somebody, but the amount of information disclosed changes depending on the relationship.  

For example, I may say:

I am in 100% agreement, and I have the candidate’s word that at $107,000, they are on board.  

We are talking about setting up a process; again, the value for the candidate is you are going to shoot for the high end of the range. That is what I would also go back to the client with.

At $105,000, Mr. Client – I would advise they go to $107,000 – I have the candidate’s word of honor, meaning they will accept. Anything below that, you are at your own risk. We know how difficult this position was to fill. We know how hard it was to get the quality in Mary that you wanted to see.

It boils down to setting and managing expectations and constantly reflecting to the candidate how your opportunity solves his or her problems in their current situation and is in alignment with their vision for their career. 

A great question. I appreciate it because I know it is something many recruiters struggle with.

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