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Episode #264 – The Rise of Counteroffers in Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #264 - The Rise of Counteroffers in Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring

Joel: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we will be talking about the rise of counteroffers in Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. Stacy Pursell is an Animal Health workplace workforce expert and here she is joining us now.  Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Joel. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Joel: Stacy, what prompted you to talk about this topic today on counteroffers?

Stacy: A couple of things starting with the current state of the job market. As we have been discussing on an almost weekly basis on our podcast, there is a worker and talent shortage in the employment marketplace. This is especially the case in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. There are simply not enough qualified candidates to fill all of the positions that are available.

Joel: Stacy, is the Great Resignation also a contributing factor?

Stacy: Yes, it is! Not only is it difficult to recruit and hire top talent in the job market, but it is also difficult to retain current superstar employees. And all of this is contributing to an increase in the frequency of counteroffers.

Joel: So, you are seeing more counteroffers in your role as an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter?

Stacy: Yes, many more counteroffers. And that is why I wanted to address this topic on today’s podcast. Counteroffers have always been around, but they have become more of a factor in terms of Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. And the rule of counteroffers is a simple one.

Joel: What rule is that, Stacy?

Stacy: The more valuable the candidate or employee, the more likely it is that they will receive a counteroffer form their current employer. Counteroffers have been part of the hiring dynamic ever since I became an executive recruiter. Now, though, times have changed. They have become an even bigger part of the Animal Health and Veterinary hiring dynamic.

Joel: Stacy, we have also been discussing the future of the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession in recent podcast episodes. If counteroffers are playing a bigger role now, won’t they continue to play a bigger role in the future, if things keep going the way they are?

Stacy: That is what we are expecting. As we have been talking about, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is nearly non-existent, less than half of one percentage point. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 14,500 new veterinarian jobs created between 2020 and 2030. If you think things are tough now, wait seven or eight years. It the projections are correct, at this point there is no reason to think they won’t be, it will seem downright impossible to fill some of the open veterinarian jobs.

But before we get too far into the future, I would like to switch gears and travel back to the past for a moment.

Joel: Okay, fair enough. What about the past?

Stacy: Years ago, employers were able to make certain assumptions about the job market and their Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts. One of those assumptions is that when a candidate accepted their offer of employment, that candidate was going to show up for their first day of work.

Joel: That seems like a reasonable assumption Stacy.

Stacy: It was a reasonable assumption—in the past, anyway. In fact, an Animal Health hiring manager or Veterinary practice owner would not even seriously consider the possibility that the candidate would not show up for their first day of work.

Joel: Let me guess: Animal Health hiring managers and Veterinary practice owners cannot make that assumption here in the present.

Stacy: That is right, they cannot. There is a very real possibility that the candidate will not show up, and there are two reasons for this.

First, the candidate accepted an offer from another employer because they thought that offer was better, and they may not bother to let the first organization know what they had done.

And second, the candidate accepted a counteroffer from their current employer, and they may not bother to let to the first organization know what they had done.

But when you think about it, even if the candidate does let you know the reason why they are not showing up, it does not make much of a difference. You have still lost out on a great candidate, and now you have to reconsider your options. So now there is a new assumption that a hiring manager or practice owner must have.

Joel: What assumption is that?

Stacy: In today’s job market and especially within the Veterinary profession, when a candidate accepts an offer, the Animal Health hiring manger or Veterinary practice owner has to assume that the candidate is going to receive a counteroffer.

Joel: It is almost as if the assumption has done a 180-degree turn, from assuming that the candidate will show up for their first day of work to assuming that the candidate will receive a counteroffer.

Stacy: Yes, that is right, and that is a good way of putting it. And there are two good reasons why Animal Health hiring managers and Veterinary practice owners must make this assumption in the current job market.

First, if they are not prepared for a counteroffer, then they won’t be ready to combat it. And second, if the candidate is not prepared for the counteroffer, then they will not be ready to combat it, either.

Joel: The candidate has to be ready, too?

Stacy: Yes, they do. However, not all candidates are prepared for this, and that can also cause a problem for the employer that made the offer.

In fact, I have had candidates tell me that there was “no way” their current employer was going to make a counteroffer to them. They practically laughed it off when I brought it up to them. They did not believe their employer would make them a counteroffer, even if they were to give notice that they were leaving.

Joel: I am guessing these candidates were pretty shocked when it did happen?

Stacy: That is right. They did receive a counteroffer and they were shocked and surprised by it, even though I had told them to be ready for one.

Joel: So, they were not ready to receive a counteroffer.

Stacy: Not mentally. I had done everything I could to prepare them for the counteroffer that I knew they were going to receive. The problem is that some candidates are not fully aware of what is happening in the job market, especially within the Veterinary profession. And since they are not as prepared as they should be, they are more susceptible to accepting a counteroffer.

Joel: Is that because they want to maintain the status quo?

Stacy: That is one reason, yes. Some people look for the path of least resistance and fall into the trap of wanting to be comfortable. One of the realities of an employer making a counteroffer to an employee is that they employer is basically admitting that they were underpaying the employee. If they were not, then they would not have to make a counteroffer in the first place. But people who like to be comfortable and maintain the status quo will look past that reality and decide to accept their employer’s counteroffer and stay. They rationalize the decision in their minds, partly because it is easier to stay right where they are.

Joel: But they are stopping their career from moving forward. Isn’t that self-limiting?

Stacy: Yes, accepting a counteroffer is sometimes considered a self-limiting move. Sometimes, people are their own worst enemy, especially when it comes to their professional life and their career. They are the person who gets the way of them taking the next step in their career. There was usually a reason they were exploring other opportunities outside of their current employer in the first place.

Joel: Well, then what can employers do about the rise of counteroffers in terms of Animal Health and Veterinary hiring?

Stacy: There are three main steps, and I would like to present them now. The first step is to accurately gauge the candidate’s sincerity.

Joel: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: Simply put, it means finding out exactly how serious they are about making a move. Someone who is only “kicking tires” just to see what is available may be more likely to accept a counteroffer than somebody who is truly serious about making a move to grow their career. However, an employer must be careful if a candidate’s main motivation for making a change is money.

Joel: Why is that, Stacy?

Stacy: If money is the most important thing to them, then they will follow the money. If their employer makes a counteroffer that is more than the original offer, then they will stay. They might stay even if the counteroffer is the same or a little less.

Joel: Because of the status quo and wanting to be comfortable?

Stacy: Yes, that and the fact that their main motivation was money. It all comes down to motivation. If money motivates a person to leave, then money can be used to convince that same person to stay.

Joel: But if the person does not like their boss or the environment . . .

Stacy: Then more money will not make much of a difference.

The second step is to prepare the candidate for the possibility of a counteroffer. The best way to do it, of course, is to talk to them about it. This is what I do with candidates during the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process.

Joel: When should you talk to a candidate about the possibility of a counteroffer?

Stacy: You should talk to them when it becomes obvious that they candidate might receive an offer or even earlier. If the employer is working with a recruiter, then it is the recruiter’s responsibility to talk about a counteroffer with the candidate.

Joel: How direct should an employer be when discussing this with a candidate?

Stacy: Ask them upfront if they would accept a counteroffer. Obviously, you want them to say “No,” even if they do not believe they are going to receive a counteroffer. There is also a bit of psychology involved.

Joel: What do you mean?

Stacy: Candidates who do not discuss the possibility of a counteroffer, and more importantly, do not verbally indicate that they will NOT accept one are more likely to accept a counteroffer. So let the candidate know upfront that once they give their “word of honor,” you are asking them to commit to your position and not accept a counteroffer. Trustworthy people and people of integrity do not want to go back on their “word of honor” and be perceived as not keeping their word.

Joel: That makes sense Stacy.

Stacy: The third step for employers is to provide a superb onboarding experience.

Joel: How does that play a role?

Stacy: Let us start with the fact that not only are there more counteroffers in the job market right now, but there is also more instances of “ghosting.” This includes candidates “ghosting” on their first day of work and not showing up.

Employers must remember that the onboarding process does not start with the candidate’s first day of work. It starts the moment they accept the offer. That means the employer should be onboarding them at the same time they could be receiving a counteroffer.

Joel: How should the employer onboard the candidate before their first day of work?

Stacy: There are many things that an employer can do. Once a candidate accepts the offer, someone from the organization needs to be in contact with them in form  frequently during those two weeks. This includes phone calls, emails, and take them to lunch if possible. Get them introduced to as many of their new team members as possible to start building those new relationships.

Joel: That sounds like a lot.

Stacy: It is and it takes work, but this is what it takes to keep a new employee engaged during the onboarding process and before their first official day of work. If the candidate is local, you can take them to lunch before their first day like I just mentioned. You could also send them a care package in the mail with items that have your company logo on them, such as a shirt, pens, etc., along with a handwritten note welcoming them.

The main goal with all of this to make the new employee feel welcome and wanted. This goes a long way to preventing them from accepting a counteroffer.

Joel: Which the employer should assume the candidate is going to receive?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right! As we said earlier, an employer must assume the candidate is going to receive a counteroffer, so they should act accordingly. And when it comes to Veterinary hiring, every employer should assume that if a candidate accepts an offer—especially for a veterinarian role—that candidate will receive a counteroffer.

Joel: Stacy, we are just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Yes, as I mentioned before, employers can enlist the services of an experienced and reputable recruiting firm to help prepare new hires for the possibility of a counteroffer.

With 25 years of experience, we at The VET Recruiter have experience dealing with situations that involve top candidates and counteroffers. We help employers prepare candidates for the possibility that they will receive a counteroffer, so they can effectively handle it when it happens.

Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information the rise of counteroffers in Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. And there is additional information The VET Recruiter website about your services for employers, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that is right. We have information about our services for employers, including a detailed breakdown of our recruiting process and testimonials from Animal Health companies and Veterinary organizations that have used our services and continue to use them. And since The VET Recruiter has a long track record of success during the past two-plus decades, we also have a list of positions that we have placed in the past.

I also recommend that those who visit the website also sign up for our monthly newsletter, which also contains hiring tips and strategies. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels, including LinkedIn, and you can do that right from The VET Recruiter website.

And of course, you can get a quote of our services, submit a job order, or request a consultation. We would be happy to speak with you about your Animal Health or Veterinary recruiting and hiring needs.

Joel: Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy:. It has been my pleasure; Joel and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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