Travellers should not be stopped!

  • Post published:11/10/2011
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Wow, I was taken by surprise when I saw your many emails in my inbox after the blog in August. The article headline was “Did you accept a counter offer”. I should quickly add that your emails came as a pleasant surprise.

The story dealt with candidates accepting counter offers from their employer in connection with their resignation. You may remember how a senior executive candidate had signed our client’s employment letter, then called me a few weeks later to pull out. The candidate’s employer had played the ultimate card: the counter-offer.

Let me say it again. The counter-offer is an insult to your intelligence. You have been bought and it should be a blow to your pride. By resigning you are essentially breaking a trust that you had with your employer. If you take the counteroffer and stay, your company may feel that it owns you. You will be known as the one who caused your employer grief by threatening to quit. You’ll no longer be known as a loyal employee.

Will this cause your boss to pass you over on the next possible promotion? There are stories where companies only counter to get the employee to stay until they find a replacement and then let the employee go. Some companies feel that it’s better for people to leave on their terms instead of their employees’ terms. Not sure who came up with the claim that 80-90% of those accepting a counter will be out in the job market again some six months later.

So please don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Avoid career suicide. Believe me, decent and well managed companies never make counteroffers. Ever.

One of the emails quoted a German proverb of wisdom and trust: “Reisende soll man ziehen lassen”. In English that would be something like: “Travellers should not be stopped”. You got it?

If you are a hiring manager there are several things you can do in order to reduce the risk of someone jumping last minute and leaving you red faced with a lot of explaining to do to the boss or head office. Here are six great questions that will go a long way to cut your losses.

What was the motivation for the candidate to come and meet you? The answer will give valuable insight in the candidate’s motivation.

Question 1: When we called you about this job opportunity, what was it that got you interested in coming here today? What interests you about this position?

End the interview on a positive note and test the candidate’s interest:

Question 2: Although we are seeing some other fine candidates, I believe you have a good background. Assuming our offer is attractive, how does the job and challenge appeal to you?

Present components of the offer throughout the interview before the candidate is the only finalist. Check what the candidate thinks about the compensation budget. Get part acceptance and make a note of the candidate’s comments.

Question 3: The compensation budget for this position is Baht [amount]. Assuming you are happy with what you have heard today, what are your thoughts on this budget?

Is the candidate serious about pursuing your job opportunity? How will the candidate resign and handle a counter offer? If the candidate insists they will not accept a counter offer, ask them to give you the reason why – in their words. Draw a square on your paper and write down in short what they say. When a counter offer is extended, you read them their own words.

Question 4: We also have to talk about what happens if you are offered the job; and accept it. It means you will have to resign. How will you do that and what will you tell your boss? What if they give you a counter offer? Do you have any projects running? Can you leave your boss and colleagues? What about the location?

Question 5: If we and you go all the way, we will want to do reference checking on your background. Should we expect to have any issues talking to previous bosses or colleagues you think?

Question 6: What other jobs are you currently considering or being interviewed for? How active are you right now in the job market?

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.