[Am I the only one to find myself on edge when counter-offers are in play?   It feels a lot like it does in sales when you’ve gotten a verbal from the prospect but you’ve still got a contract and a relationship that need to land safely.   Anyway, I hope you enjoy my tongue-in-cheek efforts here of sharing mistakes I’ve made over the decades.]

Congratulations!  You landed the top candidate!   Feeling good?

You should.  Your recruitment efforts were stellar.  Your search, vast.  You sourced 500 names.   Conducted three rounds of interviews.  Four interviews per round.  Meetings before and after with stakeholders to nail down the job description, hot buttons, and interview roles.

You made the candidate work really hard to get selected, and she is invested in that success.

But maybe you are a masochist and like to throw hard work down the toilet.  No worries, you still have a chance to do just that.  Just follow these golden rules for blowing the counter-offer phase:

Don’t Prepare for the Counter Offer

Hot candidates get counter-offers.  It’s a fact, and those offers can be juicy.  More pay.  A new title.  An office instead of a cube.   Just let the candidate ride out the counter-offer on their own.   You have a signed offer letter after all.

Stop Wooing the Candidate

Some companies continue wooing the candidate after the job offer has been accepted.  They have this crazy notion that people switching jobs get emotional about leaving their co-workers.   Phooey on that.  Save some money for your next search and stop wooing the candidate.

Forget the Fact They Have a Spouse and Family

Employment is intimately tied to healthcare, so leaving the candidate to deal with changing plans and mid-year deductibles is a great way to irritate them.   Also, let them figure out for themselves that they’ll now have an extra 20 minute commute each day.

Let HR Handle Things

Your hiring team needs to get back to their regular jobs, so let them just do that.  No need for them to continue meeting with the candidate for lunch, golf or drinks.  There is work to be done, so let HR take it from here.

Make the Onboarding Process Painful

All those wonderful forms.  Non-competes.  Security clearance.  Healthcare enrollments.  Just pile them on.  50, 60, maybe more.  And make them be on paper on have Dawn Budgie in HR keep sending them back to the candidate because they weren’t filled out right.

Don’t Meet Up with Them the First Few Days

No one ever quits after the first day do they?   Heck no.  So don’t waste your time meeting up with the new recruits on their first few days.  Besides they will be super busy with yet more forms from HR, mastering the phone system and waiting for the boxes to be cleared out of the cubicle they are supposed to be getting.


There you go.   Decades of mistakes I’ve made crystalized in six brief bullet points.

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