I have a question for the group as certain managers are black listing consultants that accept counter offers after having committed to taking a new position.


  1. Would you work with a candidate again that accepted your job verbally and then took a counter offer when their existing company came back with a great offer?
  2. Would you work with a candidate again that signed an offer letter from you, then retracted to stay with their current company due to a counteroffer?

I ask this as certain managers want to have a black list of people that cannot work for us due to one of the above.  What do you think?

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I have worked with candidates who have done both. There are people who will get another offer to leverage their current position but my take is that most of the time they are surprised when they get a buy back counter offer. I cover buy backs throughly but it is still difficult for people to turn down a significant increase. It seldom works successfully for them.
If they come back saying I was right it was a wreck, I will work with them. It has been my experience that having done it once, had a bad experience they don't do it again.

Depends a lot on what they do and the attitude when they come back around.
I would agree whole heartedly with the last sentence, how their attitude is when they come back around.  If there is little discussion or they feel like it was not a mistake, that would be hard for me to swallow.  I do however run an issue with the verbal vs. the signing of an offer letter.  I stress when a verbal offer is made, that they evaluate and discuss it with all parties previous to signature.  If they decide on not going, then fine.  However, when someone signs and then leaves a client with their pants down, that is sign of character that normally does not change.

It really depends on the situation. Coincidentally I JUST placed someone who did this, with the manager he did it to. Because I was in the middle of the counter offer I knew the details, something the manager may not have known. It takes a lot of questions, and sometimes just a gut feel, to size up people (regardless of what business you are in).  As recruiters we've all seen 'C' candidates make solid employees and 'A' candidates make fools of themselves. If something does not feel right... it probably isn't.



The counter offer is an age old "occupational hazzard" in the recruiting industry as I like to say.  Obviously none of us would like to have to address this issue, but clearly there are times we must.


My opinion on working with individuals who have accepted a counter offer is it depends on how the candidate handles this situation.  People make decisions based on what they beleive to be in their best interest, regardless of the level of knowlege they may have at the time.  And while counter offers in MOST cases will be toxic for someone's long term career at a company, that is not always the case.  I would however approach any future conversations with this candidate with a bit more scrutiny.


I recommend taking the longer term view of a candidate relationship assuming the individual has not acted in a highly unprofessional manner (other than the counter offer acceptance).  Candidates turn into managers (if they are not already a manager), and they share opinions with their peers as to how you will handle the counter offer discussions.  It is always better to take the higher ground in a counter offer situation and extract as much value as possible in other relationship areas without alienating the candidate.


Even if you decide to not work with a candidate in the future, it is never wise to verbally assult someone's decision (I know you did not recommend doing this). Just quietly move on to the next opportunity and document the situation correctly for future decisions.   Chances are the candidate will come back to you if their current company does not live up to their expectations.  After all, assuming no promotion was given, all that changed was salary. Compensation alone is typically not strong enough to keep someone at their employer over the long term.


No doubt there will be passionate opinions shared on both sides of the argument.  Do what is best for you in your best judgement.


Good luck.

Maybe the signing then rescinding is worse but not sure it can be related to character. Consider this. The candidate is offered a buyback that is 25k higher. He/she has two kids ready for college. Is it character or is it the financial ability to pay the kids tuition. It may not work long haul but most people will not leave a significant financial increase on the table and be happy if they honor a signed offer that costs them the ability to educate kids or some other important thing for their family. It's a tough call but would most of us not rescind if it meant something like that? I consider my word my bond but it would be difficult for me if something like that were in the balance.

Fool me once shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  As a standard practice, I will never work with a

candidate that accepted a counter offer at any stage of the process.  Verbal or written acceptance.  If they did it once they will surely do it again, and guess who gets the blame (not Human Resources). Frank Gregg, GREGG & Associates

I personally fall in the middle judging each on a case by case situation, however thankfully do not have them often.  However, I question the long term strategic thinking of the candidate.  They must realize they have played the ultimate career cancelling card at their current company when doing this.  Most companies will counter offer to keep a critical person to ensure the company is not left with a talent or functional gap.  However when layoffs come or the skill is not as needed, you are the first to go.  We have researched with many VPs and C executives on the matter and they all say they mentally keep that in the back of their mind when they need to let people go.  Those employees are not see as loyal, especially if the company feels they were leveraged and placed in a bad spot.  In addition, most people for their own reasons do not stay with a company after accepting a counter offer since money rarely solves the real issue.  Slightly over 50% of people that accept a counter are still with the company 12 months later.

after a long to with the candidate on how i get paid.



Morgan - nice message from the mentor.  And that is very true.  Your trust factor is lost with the company and people remember that when things go south and people need to be let go.  You will be a top the list.  The other side if the company that your have now soured on your name.  One of the government bases I work with will simply not work with anyone that does not accept their offer (negotiations are fine), but if the job is offered and they do not accept, forget about counter offer - they are black listed can never work there.  They cannot stand people wasting their time and making them come to a fair offer only to be walked away from.

I agree that counter offers are almost always bad for the person that takes one for all the reasons that everybody has mentioned.  Also agree that there are some people who are kicking tires to get an offer so they can make an attempt to get more money or a different job where they are currently.   That is snakey and dishonest. And it bites them in the end if they do it.  Some employers will never consider a candidate who is offered and turns it down or accepts and rescinds but i have had some who will and have. 


 It normally depends on the circumstances.  I had one last year who had been interviewing for almost four months.  My client finally came up with an offer almost 5 months after his first interview. He gave a verbal acceptance pending his attorney reviewing the employment contract. He signed. 


Subsequent to signing, his mother passed away leaving him with a messy estate situation as the trustee.  His employer made him a counter offer.  He elected to accept it due to a need to be in that state or to have to travel back and forth for court appearances as the estate was being contested.  Was he dishonest?  I didn't think so and neither did my client.  They of course withdrew their offer but let him know that when his personal situation was settled they would be open to making another offer that would be equal to the buy back.


I don't think every candidate who takes a buy back is dishonest.  Many never thought there would be one and are shocked and/or flattered when they get one.  I think sometimes they get muddled with thinking that the devil they know who seems to want them more than they thought is better than the angel they don't know yet.  It is almost always not the case but i have a problem blaming all of it on honesty or character.  Like most things in recruiting or business in general there are always exceptions so  i think we have to look at each individual on a per case basis.


Sandra - very well put and yes I agree, a variety of circumstances can come on quickly changing the logistics of the situation and really placing someone in a position where a counter offer becomes a necessity.  Sticking with your company is not always bad and in your depiction above, there was little he could do so there is no blame nor pointing fingers.


Commitment I take seriously and I believe that is has less bearing now than it did 20 yrs ago.  People feel less obligated to stick to their word.  Frankly this attitude did not develop over night nor it is the employee's fault entirely.  Companies are quick to let go, fire people when they are close to pension time,  and the list goes on.  This has made people more self aware that trusting companies is a way of the past.  Sad but true.  With that, people look out for #1 and that can at times come across in a manner that is not professional.

With the Market Changing more and more everyday the Counter Offer is a fact of life.  I tell all of my candidates if they would entertain a counter offer then go to there current employer and ask for a raise.  If they get it then it was not ment to be.  If they don't get the raise then that should be an idicator of how there current employer views them.


As an additional point I ask the candidates in the very beggining: " What do I need to tell you in the future to remind you of this moment why we are talking in the first place."

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