The Return of Candidate Power - How to Hire and Combat Counter Offers in Today's Competitive Hiring Market!

By Lindsey Newman

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Over the last year there has been a marked shift in power in the recruitment market. Our recovering economy has led to a significant increase of vacancies in comparison to this time last year. New survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) revealed that finance and accounting vacancies grew by 13%, IT by 11%, engineering by 7%, and media and marketing by 1%. This growth of vacancies coupled with a shortage of skilled professionals has turned an employer's market, into one solely in the hands of the employee.

In such a competitive market, securing the top talent will take flexibility in the offer presented, ingenuity in combatting counter offers and the tenacity to keep your potential employee engaged throughout the process.

In this post I want to give you an insight into what I've learned from recruiting in tough hiring markets.

Step one: Deliver a great candidate experience

The candidate experience is a potential employee's first and last impression and delivering a poor candidate experience is a sure fire way to put off future hires.

Create an easy application process; be quick to get successful applicants to interview, and communicate with candidates or your recruiter at each stage of the process so everyone is informed of what's happening.

Speeding up the hiring process and offering a positive experience will help potential hires to view you as an efficient, well-oiled machine …. one they might like to work for!

Step two: Create a compelling offer of your own

In order to attract and secure the top talent there's a real need for employers to create compelling offers. Developing a compelling job offer requires more than just bumping up the pay packet, the most compelling are often those that include a bespoke employment package.

  • Sign on bonuses – Offering a sign on bonus is a great way to tantalise a future hire whilst showing that you appreciate them coming to work for you.
  • Early pay reviews – By incorporating an early pay review into your package you can show a potential employee that you're committed to building a team that delivers results and that they will be rewarded for their hard work with a review.

As an employee, not knowing when you might be eligible for a pay review can be like walking down a dark tunnel with no end in sight but surprisingly, so many employers forget to make a pay review part of their offer.

  • Moulding job content for the best candidates – The most flexible employers know that to get the best out of their talent, a little tweaking of the job content can achieve some serious rewards. Obviously doing this isn't always an option, but if you have the room to do so, you'll be able to play to their strengths and get the most from their expertise. This can be a great way to entice an employee as they can build their new job around what they are great at, which is usually the parts of their job they enjoy the most.
  • Offer a flexible benefit package – Every employee is different and by offering a flexible benefit package, employees are able to choose what suits them best.

Step 3: Combat counter offers

When it comes to top talent it's highly likely that their current employer is going to try to counter your offer. They want to keep their employees and unfortunately they have the whole of the notice period to appeal for them to stay. Managers will be appealing both emotionally and via counter offers, so being aware and ready to tackle them is the best defence.

  • Understand their motivations for changing employer - Are they financially motivated or do they feel like they need to make a step up? Whatever their reasons, fall back on them to explain why accepting their current employer's offer won't be beneficial in the long term. Show that you understand their needs and career desires and that only you can address their pain points.
  • Tackle counter offers before they happen – Addressing the likelihood of a counter offer at the interview stage can be a great way to mitigate their success. Explain that it's quite common for employers to make attempts to keep their soon to depart employee, and remind them to remember their own motivations for wanting to leave their current employer.
  • Don’t underestimate your competition - It’s not enough to just sell against the current employer, your candidate is also likely to receive competing offers from other employers too. Tease out of your candidate which other roles they are considering and how they are developing. Establish the pros and cons of each role so you’re well informed and can sell against them.
  • Keep the employee engaged throughout their notice period – A future hire's notice period is your most dangerous time. Keep them engaged with ‘keeping in touch days’, or by touching base to ensure they are still on board. Keep them updated with their contract, information about their benefits, info about the company or even just call them to reiterate how excited you are to have them joining the team.

It’s important that you start thinking about onboarding your candidate as soon your offer has been accepted. Encourage their ideas on how they would like to be inducted into your company, this could include contributing to their own objectives for the first three months of their employment with you. If you have any company events, invite them to help solidify their feeling that they're part of your team.

My final tip for keeping future hires super engaged is to invite them to meet the people that they'll be working with. People buy people and by interacting with their future colleagues they'll build up the relationships that will protect your future hire from getting cold feet.

Written by Lindsey Newman, Director of Purple House HR, a niche recruitment consultancy specialising in the placement of Human Resources professionals. Whether you need to hire new HR talent or you're thinking about looking for a new HR position I'd be happy to discuss how I can help.  Please get in touch:

[email protected]

0117 957 4100


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