3 Powerful Reasons to Never Accept a Counter Offer

If you like your job and you like your boss, giving your notice can be an extremely difficult conversation to have. You might find yourself dreading having the conversation and even experiencing anxiety over the conversation. I have given my notice several times and in my experience it is always a hard conversation to have. In fact, the first time I did it I was nervous the entire week leading up to it. You combine that with the fear of change and comfort of familiarity and sometimes people end up accepting a counter offer. I mean, at first glance it seems like a great idea. You might love your company, enjoy the cafeteria and love your team…but, you don’t think advancement opportunities are there for you. Perhaps everything is great but you feel you are underpaid. Both of those reasons are good reasons to look if you feel so inclined.

But then you go to your boss and tell them you are leaving. They hear your reasons and they say “why didn’t you tell me you felt this way, tell you what, let me see if I can match he salary the new company is offering you. Will you stay then? As a recruiter I have been witness to this plenty of times. And frankly I get it, if everything is great but one thing and then your current employer fixes that one thing, isn’t that best case scenario? The answer is a resounding no! Below I will give you three reasons why you need to stick to your guns and move on.


The Math

As a recruiter, when I have a candidate call me and tell me that they think they are going to take a counter offer my advice to them is simple, Google it. They know I have a horse in the race and want them to take my role so anything that I say to them they are going to discard. I get that and it makes sense. SO I tell them look it up themselves, often that’s enough. The data is overwhelming. According to US News, it’s between 70-80% of workers who accept a counter who end not working for their current company within the year. Think about that, if five people accept a counter offer, 4 of them will not belong to that company by the end of the year. Do you like those odds? I wouldn’t. The nice thing about math is it takes the emotion of the decision out of it. If you can look at it and say mathematically this is the decision that’s best for me and my family, it’s a big help in what can be a highly emotional situation.


The impact on the relationship

This reason is the interpersonal reason why you never accept a counter offer. Let’s walk through this logically. You tell your boss that you are leaving. The fact of the matter is that even though some days it might not feel like it, what you do for your company is extremely valuable. They pay you a salary because there is some task the organization can’t go without. When you leave, you leave a void productivity. So something important doesn’t get done or they need to shift resources so that the task gets done. Whatever the case you have made life more difficult for many people when you leave and frankly you have made your company less efficient or less productive or both. So as a boss, you think to yourself, “I can’t let this person leave…maybe if I give them more money to change their mind.” Make no mistake, this is a short term fix. You are a leaky pipe and that extra whatever it is they are going to give you is duct tape. Imagine yourself as a manager and imagine someone vital to the success of your organization is leaving. Imagine you’re are able to throw 15k their way in order to keep them from leaving and putting you in a bind. Now you have done that and they are doing the same work for you but making a lot more money. Now imagine six months down the road you have to make a cut. Imagine you have four people to choose from who all do the same thing. They are all equally skilled and there don’t happen to be any differentiators to speak of in terms of making this decision.  Now imagine one of those people makes 15k more than the other three and six months ago was ready to leave. Now not every manager will think this way but you are kidding yourself to think that in no cases will this be a factor.


Everything doesn’t improve overnight

The last reason you need to consider is the fact that just because they change one thing, doesn’t mean that everything wrong with the situation has been remedied. Typically, when you have made the decision to move on from a situation, it’s for a multitude of reasons. Its usually the culmination of many disheartening events over the course of your time at the employer. When they give you a bunch of money, hoping that will sway you to stay, they haven’t fixed the host of other things about the company you probably wish you could fix if you were able to. They have fixed just one factor of many. So even if you discount the first two, which I would say you definitely shouldn’t, the fact of the matter is the same reasons you made the decision to look elsewhere in the first place still exist.


For these three reasons, my advice is to never take a counter offer. When you walk into your boss’s office, make up your mind that regardless of what they say you are going to stick with the course of action you have decided on. Go in there knowing there is no going back and regardless of what happens in that conversation you have already charted a new course. Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful. If you have any counter offer stories or resignation stories, please share them below! I love hearing them! Also please check out these two exciting new sections of my site! Check out my FREE Interview Prep Guide here and if you want to work with me, either as a candidate or as an HR Professional, check me out here Work with Ben!

3 Things You Can Immediately Change About Your Job Description to Find Transformational Talent

A few weeks back I was at the Indeed Interactive – Transformational Talent conference. It was two full days of information, networking and sneak peeks of things to come. The entire time I was there it was jam packed with content. One of the biggest themes to the event was transformational talent. So what is that? At the event they defined it as the type of talent that can come into your organization and make significant impact. Essentially it’s what every HR Business Partner, Hiring Manager and Recruiter are trying to find. It’s the type of person, who with their presence alone, is able to make contributions so significant that they are able to single-handedly move the needle on an entire departments productivity.

That sounds great right? Of course it does. These A Players are the type of employees who make contributions that will keep companies relevant and allow them to continue to adapt to a world where disruption seems to be the norm. During the conference indeed shared how some of the top companies in the world value these transformational individuals in terms of contribution relative to an average employee. Google, Apple, IBM and Netflix among others weighed in and gave their thoughts. The rated the impact of these individuals compared to an average employees impact and the lowest of the estimations was 4 to 1. Basically saying that one transformation employee was able to make the impact of four standard employees. One of the estimates had them at 300 to 1.

While that is quite the range you have to figure that it really comes down to how you measure average and exceptional. But for the sake of argument lets be cautious and say that the value of one of these A Players can be 10 to 1 (which again, is extremely conservative given the input of these top companies). At 10 to 1, these workers are absolute game changers and every organization should be clamoring to get as many of them as possible. As someone in recruitment, I know just how hard it is to find these candidates. And once you find them it’s not over, its then just as competitive to get them into your process, keep them engaged and then on top of it be the offer they end up selecting. I think it’s safe to assume that candidates like these will have competition offers.

So, with the talent be this rare and the market being this competitive, what are you doing to position yourself to attract, engage and retain this talent? Maybe a better question is what are you currently doing that is moving you further away from your goal of reaching these talented individuals? Well there are probably a myriad of things we could cover here but let’s start with your job description. According to the data Indeed has gathered, not only are these transformational individuals interested in hearing what’s out there, but about 70% of them are checking the job boards at least monthly. So basically, a monthly basis, if you have a poor job description you are squandering the chance to attract this talent. Essentially, a job description might be your one and only chance to engage the type of talent that propels your company into the future. Now that you understand the gravity, lets jump into the three things you can change right now to move yourself from a job description they look at, to a job description they apply to.

Leave out the meaningless clichés

Does your job description say things like “With competitive salary and benefits” or “ABC Company is an Industry Leader in”? My guess it probably does. Now while all of these things may indeed be true of your company, guess what, every job description says that. Go online right now and search for a position that you are currently trying to hire for. Find a competitor and look at their job description. Does it say a lot of the same stuff? How do you differentiate yourself from them? Do you? The fact of the natter is that you have very limited time to really interest a candidate when they are looking at your job description. If its two pages of the same old same of filled with meaningless cliches that mirror every other job description out there do you really feel as if you are best positioning yourself to get them to say “Yes, this role sounds perfect for me”? Look, if you have something special about your culture or mission, put that in here instead. I have looked through hundreds of job descriptions and if they say the same stuff your simply won’t stand out, find a way to be different.

Talk about the impact this person will have

Transformational talent craves the ability to make an impact. The talent you want doesn’t dream of coming in at 8:30 and counting the hours until 5. They don’t want one day to be indistinguishable from the next. If you really want your job description to be engaging, then write it for the people you want to attract. What will their contribution be? How will they be able to make an impact? Now by this I don’t mean cliché statements like “High visibility” and “cutting edge technologies”. That isn’t specific. How are they high visibility? What is your definition of cutting edge? If you have a tech role and the technology really is game changing, for all the love of all that is holy in this world, put it in there! I cannot state this point enough; atypical talent is not satisfied with typical impact. The people capable of changing the course of a company’s future want to know they will be empowered to do so. Let them know how and will what they will be able to do it and you will immediately make your opening significantly more attractive.


Talk about what the team has made in the past

Not enough companies do this but think about it from a candidate’s perspective. Here you are surfing the job boards looking for a truly exciting opportunity that motivates you to make a move. Job description after job description is the same. You are having a hard time distinguishing one from the next. Then you happen to find one that tells you about something significant or exciting in your industry. As it turns out the team that accomplished this has an opening. You can join the team that are doing the types of things you crave to be a part of. Well guess what, you can do that with your job description. If your team just built a new, exciting, cutting edge product that has impact the entire company, why in the hell would you not talk about that in a job description? I have done hiring for some really cool companies. Companies that have built things that are scientific marvels and companies that have built giant machines that sheer size is astounding. Things that engineers grow up dreaming about building. No matter what your company does, I bet that you can find things your team has done that job seekers would find exciting. If you aren’t including accomplishments of the team you are hiring for in your job description, then you are missing the boat big time. The type of talent you want to add to your team wants to know how they will be able to make an impact. What better way than to specifically talk about the past accomplishments of the team they would be joining?

There are a ton of things you can do to make a job description better and for that matter, your entire hiring process. We will get into a bunch of those in future blog posts but the take away today should be that there are easy ways to immediately make your job descriptions more competitive. If you are hiring a Mechanical Engineer and instead of creating a job description you simply pull out the one you used the last time your hired one you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Talk to your hiring manager. What has your team accomplished over the last few years? What cool technologies are you using now and what cool technologies are you looking into for the future? Why would someone who is already happily employed leave their job to come do the same thing for us? What is exciting? Ask these questions and find a way to get them into the description. Replace the same old same old with enticing glimpses into the progress and impact a person can make and you will find yourself with a much better chance of attracting the talent that success demands. I hope this post will help you inject some energy into your job descriptions. What did I miss? If you are a hiring manager, HRBP or a Recruiter, what else can you do to make a job description better? If you are an applicant, what is the coolest thing you have seen in a job description? Have a great day, thanks for reading and I look forward to your questions!

PS. If you liked this post, I will always appreciate people sharing it!

9 Impactful Actions Entry Level Candidate Can Take to Jumpstart Their Careers

In my time in recruiting I have hired for a ton of different roles in many industries. I have filled roles doing everything from Paint Coatings Scientist to Production Manager at a Pizza Manufacturer to Crystal Growth Scientist. Each role I have recruiting on presents its own challenges.  However, out of all the role that I have filled, some of the most rewarding are actually entry level roles. For me there is just something exciting about finding a good fit for a company and also helping someone find their first full time gig. Most of the candidates who I end up placing in entry level roles have a level of excitement that you really only find when this type of novelty is involved. For many it is a point of validation for all the hard work they have out in over the years succeeding in schoolwork, networking and planning their future. With that being said, not all of these interviews got smoothly. In fact, I would say that they have a lower success rate than some of the more senior, niche engineering roles I have filled. You can mostly attribute this to lack of experience. A lot of these candidates who don’t have the best phone interviews or onsite interviews are really good candidates, it’s just new to them and they make a few mistakes that end up costing them. So today I am going to provide you with a few quick things you can do to make sure you go into that interview and nail it!


Get your LinkedIn profile looking awesome!

The first thing I recommend doing is making sure you have an awesome LinkedIn profile. Hopefully you already have a profile set up but if not do it right now! I am serious, open another tab, set it up and come back and ready this. If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, its social networking for professionals. You are able to add “connections”, follow companies, join groups, message fellow business professionals and potentially land yourself interviews. The fact of the matter is most corporate recruiters and agency recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their top tools for finding candidates. By having a great LinkedIn profile, you are increasing the likelihood that recruiters will reach out to you with potential opportunities. LinkedIn is nice in the sense that they walk you through the set up. They tell you to upload a picture, add experience, add education and add skills etc. Follow their instructions and make sure you are as detailed as possible and odds are you will have set up a solid LinkedIn profile and take a positive step towards employment. Overall setting up a LinkedIn page is pretty simple and most people have no issue doing it themselves but if you want expert assistance getting a fully optimized profile check out my Resource Page for the link on LinkedIn optimization.


Join entry level career groups in LinkedIn

Once you join LinkedIn you will see that you are able to follow companies, read cool articles and join groups. I am a big fan of joining groups if you are looking for opportunities. One of the things that makes LinkedIn work is that everyone can’t just message everyone. Now this is good for the most part but if you are looking for a job odds are you want hiring managers and recruiters to be able to reach out to you. In order to message someone on LinkedIn you have to be connected to them, have a special membership that costs money (for everyone else the site is free) or you have to share a group. If you are an Electrical Engineer and you join Entry Level Engineer groups, then odds are you will be giving access to recruiters who are looking for entry level candidates like you. So search LinkedIn, find some great groups and join. If you really want to maximize the benefit, feel free to be an active participant. Post articles, comment on others posts and be. Feel free to Join my LinkedIn Group!


Find recruiters who work in your area and connect with them

The next thing I would do is find local recruiters and connect with them. Now that could mean joining a LinkedIn group created for recruiters in your geographic area and sending them connection requests or perhaps you can google local recruiting companies and call in. That might be direct for some of you but as long as you are polite and not overly push you will find that most recruiters will appreciate the effort. The LinkedIn side of this should be easy, find recruiters who work in your geographic area or field and send them the request, that should take care of itself. As far as finding brick and mortar locations, just google them. Find local agencies, make sure they have a solid website and call in to introduce yourself and ask if they work with entry level candidates. You miss every shot you don’t take. And speaking of connecting with recruiters, feel free to Add me on LinkedIn!!


Make sure your resume is solid

This should go without saying but if you don’t have a good resume then you are in trouble. If you are an entry level candidate who just graduated, do you remember your classmates? You know the ones that walked across the stage before or after you? Well if they just graduated and you were in similar programs than odds are you are looking at some of the same jobs. Not to make this overly competitive but that is your competition now. You are pursuing the same companies and applying to the same jobs. Let us not forget about all the other schools with graduates who are now eager to join the workforce. The point I am trying to make here is that given there are a finite supply of openings you can ill afford to have a sub-par resume. They may not be fun but resumes are important. Few quick tips, you can google resume templates and find one you like and copy it. Also, go with traditional colors and fonts, we aren’t impressed with the bright colors. Lastly, personal pet peeve, drop the “objective” section of your resume. Why you ask? Because way more people are hurt by applying to a role that doesn’t exactly match their “objective” than people are ever helped by it. I never look at objectives and say “Oh my, they want to do the job I am hiring for, what stupendous luck!” If you are applying to a role, we already know you want it.


Upload your resume to Indeed

Once your resume rocks, upload it to Indeed. Indeed.com is a massive job and resume aggregator and its only getting bigger. Put your resume up there and you are again increasing the likelihood you are found. Simple as that.


Ask professors if they have industry contacts you can reach out to

DO you have any professors who you really got along with? Any of them have industry experience? If so, ask them if they know anyone who it make sense for you to reach out to regarding opportunities. Now, ideally you will have done great in this professor’s class and you will have cultivated a relationship with them. If not, they probably won’t have a lot of motivation to help you. But if so they can certainly become a resource for you. In my time in talent acquisition I have placed many a phone call to a professor at a school asking how I can share my jobs with the school’s students and alums. At the end of the day, they may not have any way to help you but again, you don’t know unless you try.


Network with classmates who have landed jobs already

Do you have any classmates you have already landed jobs? If so don’t just feel jealous, reach out and congratulate them! The fact of the matter is the last four years of your life wasn’t all about fund and learning but it was also about relationship building. You were networking without even knowing it. If you had classes with someone and you see they have landed a job at a company you respect, reach out to them! (By the way this all can be done on LinkedIn) Start up a dialogue with them. As them how they like the company. As the messaging back and forth wraps up let them know that you are still looking for that perfect fit and since they like the company so much and you are looking for similar things that you would appreciate hearing about any openings in the future. Simple as that. That could be the end of the conversation but they could also say, “well actually, we are hiring two more Jr Test Engineers, send me your resume and I will pass it along to my manager”. Now some of you are thinking, “well Ben, why would they do that?” They will do it for two reasons. The first is that generally speaking, people like helping other people. Sometimes it’s because they hope you could help them in a similar situation down the road and sometimes it’s just because they are genuinely nice people. The second reason is referral bonuses. Most companies have a referral program in which you are compensated when they hire someone you referred for an opening they have. This could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand. People like money, if they have an opening and a referral bonus and you weren’t a terrible classmate, they will probably help you.


Practice interview questions

One of the things I see often is that entry level candidates just aren’t prepared for the interview questions they get during phone interviews and in person interviews. While I know interviews are hard and you are new to them, you really don’t have an excuse. I don’t mean that to sound harsh but you have all the tools you need to not only have successful interviews, but to be great them. You have Google!!! You can google the term interview questions and hundreds of websites just like mine will pop up and help you. You can get a list of questions you will likely be asked, write out your answers on a piece of paper (trust me that will help you remember these answers) and practice answering them in a mirror. Get to a point where you say these answers confidently and enthusiastically and as it makes sense, passionately. Even if you aren’t as confident as you would like to be, fake it. Don’t worry, it will come with time. And while I have your attention, check out this post I did about that very topic 5 Important Interview Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer.


Take the interview

The last piece of advice I have for you is take the interview. Think the company is just ok? Take the interview. They are in an industry you consider boring? Take the interview. You had never heard of them until they called you? Take the interview. I counsel people to interview often and there are two reasons to do this. The first is you never know when you are going to find the right opportunity. I have had conversations I thought would go nowhere turn into awesome opportunities. The fact is you never know until you actually go down that road. Secondly, even if you don’t take the job, the experience of interviewing will help you become a better interviewer. It’s all about repetition. In the same way Steph Curry has launched thousands upon thousands of shots over his lifetime to become arguably the best shooter in NBA history, you too are going to need to practice if you want to be great. And yes, that goes for interviews as well. Now, I am not advocating the wasting of people’s time. Go into every interview with an open mind and if it isn’t a fit, then it isn’t a fit. But trust me, getting those reps help.


Well there you have it. I hope you found these useful, actionable and easy. Do some or all of these things and you will have an easier transition into working life. Always remember, preparation is key. You will never leave an interview saying “Well, I blew that because I was too well informed” but most people can look back at interview they probably could have done better in, including myself. Lastly, is there anything I missed? Are there any good, easy and quick things entry level candidates can to do position themselves to land a job quicker? If so comment below, I would love to read them. Thanks for reading, I hope this help and have a great day!

Who is ready to fail? Plus my thoughts on Brene Brown

It is Memorial Day and I am currently sitting on an airplane going from Austin to Atlanta. When I land I will have about half an hour or so to get to my next flight that will bring me from Atlanta, home to Milwaukee. I spent the last several days down here after attending the Indeed Interactive event, Transformational Talent. It was a great event with wonderful speakers and a preview of some really cool technology Indeed is going to be rolling out. Some of it may very well change the landscape of recruiting. While there I attended a talk given by one of the keynote speakers Brene Brown. I had never heard of her before going down there but apparently she is a pretty big deal and has some very highly respected TED talks. She is a PhD who focuses on being vulnerable.

Along with giving extremely interesting speeches on vulnerability, she also consults with companies on how they can shape their culture in a way that empowers their employees to be better. Very cool stuff in my opinion. While I was listening to her I decided I wanted my next post to be on failure. Failure is something that is extremely relevant to job seekers. You might fail to answer an interview question as well as you might like. You might fail at securing an offer after interviewing. Hell, you might get lost on the way to your interview and fail to show up.

However, that is not the failure we will be covering today. I was asked in an interview once, what has been my biggest career failure thus far. It is a great question and it’s a question that at the time caught me off guard. You see, when you are conducting an interview, you are looking for a variety of things when you ask a question. Outside of the answer given by the candidate there are so many relevant things you can look for. How long did the candidate take to answer the question? Did they say it with the command in their voice that demonstrates confidence? Did they answer the question directly or are they doing their best impression of a politician and skirting the question.

This specific question is great because most people won’t have an answer to give right away. You see most candidates have answers prepared for a variety of questions. They have example after example of “Tell me about a time when…” questions. Most have a “weakness: prepared that makes them look like a dedicated worker committed to overcoming obstacles. Most can tell you why they left their prior employers and do so with the type of reasoning that has you thinking, “Well yea, that makes sense to me”. However most won’t be prepared to talk about their greatest failure.

So when you ask this question you get to see how fast they think and you get what you simply don’t get with most questions, some authentic. Because interviews won’t have planned for this question you are getting an authentic response. Those are the best. If you practice a list of questions and then get those questions during an interview, they are easy to nail. It’s like knowing what defense your opponent will run and being able to specifically game plan for that defense.

However since you are reading this post right now that should never be you again. You are aware this question exists and that there is at least some probability that you may be asked it. So, take a minute to think about it. What is your greatest career failure so far? In a way this question is a lot like the, “what is your biggest weakness” question. In fact, because in a sense it’s impossible to surprise someone with the “biggest weakness” question this could be considered the new version of it.

When it comes to answering them you essentially want to do very similar things. You want to be authentic and give an actual example. It’s best to give an example that actually happened if possible because it can be easy to tell if something is made up. Secondly you need it to be an actual failure. If your failure is a thinly veiled success your response comes off as disingenuous as well as ridiculous. We know it’s a hard question if we are asking it but the fact of the matter is that doesn’t give you license to just not answer it. Certainly it is your choice but my advice is to give something that is an actual misstep, everybody makes them. Thirdly you the answer you give needs to be a two part answer. Part one is what you did wrong, part two is how that has positively impacted you and impacted you for the better moving forward in your career. The fourth thing is the example you give shouldn’t be something that is far too off-putting to look past. Ideally this mistake is a misstep and not a symptom of a terrifying character flaw that is going to make it difficult for them to justify hiring you. You want to be real but you don’t want them to walk away from the interview saying this person could pose significant risk to our company if we decide to hire them.

Answering this interview question correctly kind of reminds me of what Brene Brown so excellent covered in the speaking engagement I attended. There is a certain power in vulnerability. Again, this shouldn’t be something that gives them pause about what you might add to the organization but if you are able to give them an example that is authentic and impactful then you might come off looking like someone capable of growth. Recruiters are people too and I have made my fair share of mistakes. We don’t expect our candidates to be infallible.

So think of something you have done, own the failure and don’t distribute the blame to others incapable of defending themselves and explain why in the end it turned out to be positive lesson for you. Candidates usually spend the entirety of an interview trying to showcase why they are the perfect addition to a company and quite frankly, that is a winning approach. However, if you are given the opportunity to appear vulnerable and through story demonstrate your ability to learn, it’s certainly something you should be prepared to take advantage of.