Nicola O'Hanlon
Nicola O'Hanlon
Senior Associate

Articles From the Team

Avoiding counter offers

There is a fine line between becoming a cynical old recruiter and being realistic and anticipating the inevitable. Counter offers are rife and can happen at any point in the process. The market is very candidate driven at the moment and there is nothing worse than receiving that dreaded call / email to tell you an offer has been declined due to being counter offered more money, a better package or a promotion with their current firm or even another firm they have been approached by during their notice period!

A firm will pull out all the stops to retain its top talent and ‘buy back’ continues to increase. This can be really annoying especially when this happens when someone is very close to joining a firm and plans have already been made to accommodate the person in to the team but there are steps, which can be taken to avoid this:

• Cover counter offers at interview

As soon as you know you are seriously interested in a candidate, ask how they will deal with a counter offer from their current firm because if they are good, it’s highly likely they will be counter offered. Would you be happy to let this person walk away from your firm? If not, tell them this and ask them how they plan to handle this and why they have made the decision not to stay

• Sell your strengths / benefits

Mention all of the benefits of being an employee with the firm at interview such as bonus scheme, number of day’s holidays, health insurance, company car, phone, laptop etc, etc. Although basic salary is always very important, a better work / life balance, work culture or career progression / future opportunities are also very important and can be a big part of why someone is looking to leave their current firm

• Exceeding expectations

Make your first offer your best one. If they are entering in to a bargaining war with you, this also allows opportunity to their current firm (or another one!) to make a more flattering offer, which leaves them feeling underwhelmed about yours. There is nothing worse than a candidate coming away from an interview excited and positive about the process only to be offered the same or even worse, less than they are already earning!

• Keep up the contact

More often than not, the last time a candidate speaks to the firm they are joining is when they are interviewed and sometimes they have only met with them on one occasion! A fee earner will more often than not have a three month notice period and this is a hell of a long time and during this time they are repeatedly being asked if they are sure they have made the right decision, is the grass really greener and so on. Contact them to ask how their resignation went / how did they deal with any counter offers / and so on. During this time, you should be preparing them for the transition to your firm so invite them on any events, tell them about any news in their team / firm wide and just generally make them feel included and part of the firm as quickly as possible!

If you have chosen to work with BCL Legal, we will have already covered all of the above at an early stage as part of our initial interview process and we will continue to question other options in the pipeline, changes to their situation but it is also very helpful to back this up at interview to avoid a counter offers being taken.

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