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How to beat the counter offer and secure your first choice of candidate

With candidates in the driving seat and counter offers commonplace, how can you ensure that you don’t lose the best talent at the final hurdle? Kate Allen, Managing Director at Allen Associates, shares her secrets to success.

A recent report by CV Library suggests that cost per hire is now £5,000-£10,000 and that poor hiring decisions can generate loses of up to £15,000. These are hefty sums that demonstrate once more why getting your hiring strategy right is so important.

But the fact remains that we live in a candidate-driven market. For many industries, the war for talent is very real and it’s likely that your ideal hire, is also someone else’s.

In a perfect situation, a candidate would bite your hand off for the job offer you put forward, but this isn’t always the case.

Alternative offers from competitors and counter offers from current employers, mean that the talent you’ve spent so much effort on attracting could easily slip through your fingers. Taking the following steps will help minimise the risk of this happening.

1. Give them an unforgettable experience

As I mentioned in my last blog post, candidate experience matters more now than ever before.

From the initial job advertisement to interview and even the way you present your offer – make sure it is aligned, consistent and timely.

Start from the beginning and map out the candidate journey. Ask yourself, what does best look like?

Do your careers website/pages offer staff case studies that show what it’s really like to work in your company? Is the job description and information pack up-to-date, relevant and in plain English? Are your processes easy and mobile optimised? Are your tests and interviews relevant to the role? Can you integrate an opportunity for candidates to meet the team they’d be working with?

2. Don’t hang around

The best talent isn’t going to wait around for you to make a decision. It’s incredibly important to keep the process moving and not let it drag on.

Be flexible with interview times (before or after work if needed) and consider conducting first interviews by skype. Most importantly, when you’ve made your decision, make the offer quickly.

Be upfront with candidates about the expected timeframes, and if this changes at all let them know as soon as you can.

3. The personal touch

The person you choose for the role will be joining your team, becoming a part of your business and your daily lives. Start as you mean to go on!

Don’t make the job offer via email. Ensure the most senior person available makes the offer face-to-face or over the phone. Leave email to discuss contracts and finer details.

4. Sell the role

Throughout the process ensure that you are selling the role and the company at all times. If the person you’re after has multiple interviews or offers, reminding them of the benefits of working with your business will help you to stand out.

Ensure that the interviewing team knows as much as possible about career development opportunities, CSR, benefits, training and the social side of the team/business. In today’s experience-driven world these things count for a lot.

5. Pay what they are worth

This sounds so simple, but is too often the downfall that sees good talent go elsewhere. Benchmark your salaries against competitors and other industries.

Be prepared to be flexible, and have a clear idea of the maximum you can offer. But don’t lose someone great for the sake of £500.

6. Make a plan in advance to deal with counter offers or multiple offers

Similar to knowing the maximum salary you will offer, you also need to know upfront how you will deal with counter offers and multiple offers.

Who needs to be involved in the negotiations? Know this upfront so you can respond quickly.

Also, remember that it’s not all about salary. Reiterate the many other benefits that matter such as holidays, incentives and bonuses, social events, company ethics and working environment.

7. Give them time to think about it (but not too much time!)

This is a tricky one to gauge but the golden rule is to stay close and keep talking. Answer any questions and alleviate any concerns they may have about the role or the team.

Have you seen a rise in counter offers or multiple offers? Do you need advice? Please feel free to email me at

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