Direct search is the best way to make executive appointments. When you conduct a direct search campaign via your executive search consultant, you run the risk of encountering a counter offer for your future executive. It is impossible to avoid counter offers as employers will panic and assume they can buy back the individual who has resigned. However, you can minimise the risk by planning for it and understanding the issues your potential new executive is facing.

When using direct search, it is imperative that you consider the issues candidates will face and address them before they resign. That way you are handling the counter offer before it even happens. These are some of the issues candidates will face:

Should I share details of new job with my current employer?

When an employee resigns it is inevitable that their current employer will ask about their new job. They are doing this to gauge why the individual is leaving and if they can be bought back. In most instances I always say it is better to advise the candidate not to discuss the job offer with their current employer.

Why have they accepted your job offer?

If this is about money, then you are in trouble as a mercenary candidate will use your offer as a tool to negotiate with their current employer. It’s a win – win for them. If the company counters with an offer better than yours they can come back to you and ask you to up yours and so on until they get what they want. These Dutch auctions should be avoided. It’s better to walk away.

If they have accepted the role being offered because of the challenge, or because it’s a step up or for another logical explanation then you need to understand this. When you meet the candidate to make the offer make sure you emphasise the benefits that joining your organisation will bring. Highlight how the reason for joining you will enrich the whole of their working life and how you are looking forward to working with them. Make them feel special and the chances are that they will not accept a counter offer.

Will their job be on the line if they decide to stay?

The chances are yes it will. No matter how open minded we like to think we are as managers, there will always be a lingering doubt in the back of our mind about an individual’s loyalty. Chances are the individual will also feel guilty and whilst they will almost certainly throw themselves into the immediate work, after a period of time this will wear off and they will wonder “what if?”.  You need to make sure that candidates understand this. When conducting a direct search your executive search consultant will be able to do this for you.

How will they be treated if they accept a counter offer?

Do you remember when you split up with your first love? You would have done anything to win him/her back wouldn’t you? From experience, I find that those who accept counter offers face similar issues.  Both try really hard for a time but once the feeling has worn off both return to their old ways and a new split is inevitable.

Do they really value me?

When you have used direct search to attract a new employee you have disrupted their life. You have approached them when they are very happy and doing a good job for somebody else. As such you instantly make them feel valued and wanted. After all everybody wants to be headhunted. It’s flattering to their ego. Whereas their current organisation hasn’t made them feel wanted recently. When discussing your offer, emphasise how much you value them and how pleased you are that they were selected through the direct search process.


When using direct search ensure you make the offer in person. Ensure that the candidate understands why they are accepting your role and emphasise the benefits. Openly discuss the issues they will face if they stay in their current role in a way that shows you care and really value them and that you are looking forward to working with them.

To discuss how Moorlands Human Capital can help you with direct search then please feel free to call us on 0207 887 4534.