Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Handling the Dreaded Buy-Back

It’s an all too typical situation. Your candidate accepts your offer, they get excited about the new job, and they go to see their boss to resign. Then….. BUY-BACK happens.

Always a hot topic, buy-back is a nightmare when it happens, but it is also one of the potential pitfalls of the offer management process that we can easily head off before it occurs. Buy-back something we need to anticipate and be ready for.

Buy-back is the process of a candidate being made a counter-offer by their current employer to stay at a company when they resign. This is a very common thing and one which should be thoroughly addressed with the candidate from the very start of the relationship and again during the feedback process.

You must get to the heart of this during your initial interview and subsequent discussions. It should be a natural conversation following on from their reasons for looking to move.

It is important for us to understand how the candidate believes his employer will handle a resignation and how they will respond. This might be pure guesswork on their behalf, but could also be from experience of what’s happened when others have resigned before them.

Either way, we are getting them to think it through.

Remember resigning is a big thing

Resigning from a role can be a very stressful thing for many people and can involve a lot of mixed feelings (especially for more junior candidates who have not moved before).

You should always coach your candidate through a resignation, and help them remember all the positive reasons for moving on.

Most people do not leave their current role for money; there is usually a deeper, more career focussed reason, e.g. career advancement, opportunity, variety, etc. If a candidate simply wants more money, then the best thing they can do is start by asking their employer for a pay rise!

The reality of buy-back

When a candidate resigns from their role, it causes their line manager/employer a short and sometimes medium-term problem, and often a feeling of panic. The quickest and cheapest way for them to deal with that problem is to offer the candidate a pay rise.

If the candidate leaves, they will usually need to recruit a replacement (involving time and recruitment fees) as well as needing to handle any additional workload in the meantime. Remember, a replacement usually takes longer to find and start than the notice period in place for the leaver.

Some helpful points to consider

Here are some points that you may find helpful to make/consider when helping a candidate deal with buy-back.

  • Buy-back is likely to be a response to a short-term personnel crisis and not a reflection on their future career prospects.
  • Research shows that the majority of candidates who stay with their current employer under such circumstances come back looking to move within a year or less because their real reasons for leaving haven’t changed.
  • If their company recognized your work previously, then they would not need a threat like resigning to offer a salary increase/new role etc.
  • They may be marked as disloyal.
  • The same things that were wrong with the job will still exist – salary is only one item.
  • When their next review is due, they could be overlooked because they have already been given an increase.
  • Staying with their company may be the easy way out, but is it what they really want?

About the author: James Nathan runs the James Nathan experience; the Business Development, Sales and Service Excellence Expert for Professional Recruiters.

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