…”Do you think that opportunity is still open?…. “I think I made a mistake…”

Three times in the last two weeks, our firm got calls from candidates stating almost exactly the same words. All three of these candidates had gotten offers through us from our clients and accepted counteroffers to stay where they were. One of the candidates received the offer and the counter offer in October of last year, one in November and the other in December.

The first candidate, the one in November, had accepted a $200,000 a year vice presidency position with one of our banking clients. He had accepted the position in mid-October, and after taking his vacation, went in to resign a few days before he was to start his new job. When his, then, present employer heard that he was going to resign, they revealed to him all kinds of plans they had for him in the future including a promotion, more responsibility and more money. He abruptly, however politely, called our client and turned the offer down after he’d accepted it two weeks before. Not surprisingly, our client wasn’t very happy at all, but was as graceful as they could be, realizing that it’s a very small world and it is always best to be gracious.

We found out last week from the candidate that none of his promised promotions, increases in salary and increasing responsibility ever came about. At first, his employer said that they were going to get “around” to fixing his situation. They then told him, according to the candidate, that they ought to have a, “plan in place by the first of the year.” Well, when the first of the year came along and nothing had been done, according to the candidate, he asked about the changes to be made, and was told that because of Covid, the bank wasn’t going to make any changes in their current situation.

The candidate is embarrassed and downright pissed off! He called and wanted to know if our client who had offered him a job in October would still be open to speaking with him. To our knowledge, our client has not hired anybody. We are in the process of connecting with them to see if they would still consider the candidate.

The second situation happened in November. Right before our candidate got an offer from one of our clients, he told the company he was working for that he was actively looking for a job and was likely to leave. His company acted shocked and surprised and claimed that they couldn’t even imagine, “losing talent like him” and were intent on doing anything they could to keep him. His boss and his boss’s boss came in from out of town, took him to dinner and asked him what they needed to do to keep him. He told us that he explained to them what they needed to do in order to keep him and that they promised to do it. They even arranged for the CEO (whom the candidate had never even heard from or spoken with) to call the candidate and let them know how “valuable” he was to the company and that they had great plans for him. His ego was stroked so greatly, he called us and told us to tell our client that he was no longer interested in their situation and that he was going to stay where he was. They fired him on December 31! The only reason they gave him was that they were going to reorganize and he wasn’t in the plans.

To make the situation even more warm and fuzzy, they let them go by email. As of this weekend, he still hasn’t been able to speak with his boss. It was all done by the people in HR. Interestingly enough, our client is still interested in speaking with him. Miracles happen!

The last incident of a buyback occurred in December. Our candidate got an offer through us from one of our clients and accepted the job. She was supposed to start January 1. Same song, second verse! She goes in to resign, her boss asks her what they have to do to keep her. She tells us that she never expected in 1 million years that they would do what they would have to do to keep her so she told her boss all of the things they would need to do. Her boss asked her to hold off for a couple of days so he could see what he might be able to do to rectify all of her grievances. She tells our client that she wants to hold off on a start date and tells them the reason why. (Unfortunately, we were not aware this.)

Two days or so after she asks our client to “hold off,” our client calls and tells us what’s going on. After thinking about it a day or so, they are mad. Unfortunately, they are surprised that we didn’t know anything about it, thinking we were encouraging her and advising her all along. We explained that we weren’t and that we had no idea what she was doing. Of course, they were questioning her integrity. Our candidate tells us that she feels like she owes it to her company to “see what they can do.” We explained to her that what she’s doing is revealing, at best, poor business judgment and, at worst, lack of integrity. We explained that we fully expect our client to move on with the second candidate that we had (fortunately) provided them, which is exactly who they hired.

Four or five days after our candidate had gotten the assurance from her boss that the company would make things better, her boss resigned, with no notice. He simply walked out. She came to find out that he never even shared with his management her situation or his promise to make things better. He simply got her to stick around until he left. At least she admitted how mad she was and how she felt. She still has her old job, but is actively looking more so than ever.

Counteroffers rarely work. We’ll go into the reasons why next week. We have no idea if the first candidate in these three scenarios has a chance at the job. We are amazed that the second candidate still has a shot and we aren’t surprised at all about the third situation.

The major reason that counteroffers don’t really work is that the person who receives one can no longer be trusted to be part of the “family.” There are lots of other reasons that we will discuss next week. The lesson is: don’t accept the counteroffer!

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