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5 Ways to Prevent Candidates From Accepting a Counteroffer

“My company made an offer to a candidate, and then much to our surprise, he turned around and accepted a counteroffer from our competitor!”

This is something that recruiters have probably heard from HR more times than they can count. And while it may seem like sour grapes when it happens, recruiters know that accepting counteroffers presents a significant risk for employers.

Counteroffers are a reality in today’s highly competitive labor market. But, while counteroffers can be effective, we believe that the best companies don’t make them because they know how to attract and retain top talent without bargaining with their employees.


Here are five ways recruiters can work with their HR managers to prevent candidates from accepting counteroffers and reneging on offers.

1. Ask the Candidate Upfront About Accepting a Counteroffer

By asking candidates upfront if they would accept a counteroffer, you may be more likely to prevent them from accepting one. Candidates who do not discuss or indicate that they will not take a counteroffer are infinitely more likely to do so eventually. Let the candidate know up front that once giving their word of honor, it is unlikely for them to go back on it and become less trustworthy in your eyes because people don’t want this reputation attached to themselves.

While recruiters and hiring managers may feel that it’s a good idea to warn candidates not to tell their current employer about receiving an offer from someone else, this is actually the opposite of what you want them to do when considering counteroffers. If your candidate tells their current employer that they have received another offer, the employer will generally respond by making a counteroffer to retain the employee. This means that despite your warning, your candidate is more likely to take the counteroffer than go through with accepting a new job.

2. Offer Similar or Better Perks

In addition to salary and benefits, recruiters can use bonuses or more perks as a sweetener to the job offer. These could include extra vacation days, flexible hours, working from home options, and other types of compensation. This will enable recruiters to provide counteroffers to their candidates that do not increase base pay but rather add perks or extremely appealing benefits.

3. Create Time Frames for Accepting/Rejecting Offers

A critical mistake recruiters make is placing too much pressure on candidates when making them offers with deadlines for accepting or rejecting them. Most people don’t respond well to ultimatums, especially when they feel pressured into accepting something without giving ample thought. Recruiters should provide time frames for responses but never make them seem like they are forced to accept the offer. For instance, recruiters could pass on a counteroffer if it isn’t accepted in three days or less and move onto another candidate that views their offer more favorably.

4. Provide a Top-Notch Onboarding Experience

The fastest way to lose a new hire to a counteroffer is to provide a poor onboarding experience. It would be best to onboard your new hires as soon as they accept the offer, which means you will have to do it even when a candidate is receiving counteroffers from their former employer. This experience must make them feel welcome and wanted so that they don’t regret joining your company. Not only that, it allows the recruit to get a feel for your company culture and see why they should stay at your company over their former employer.

5. Communicate Frequently

The less time recruiters spend interviewing candidates. The more time recruiters have to strategize and plan how they will keep them from accepting counteroffers. Recruiters need to put a lot of effort into learning about each candidate’s career goals to make sure they align with the company’s goals before hiring them.

This is not always easy, but recruiters can overcome this challenge by having an open dialogue throughout the entire interview process and after a new hire starts working at a company. If recruiters communicate with their candidates, they feel more connected to their new employer.

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