If you follow college football, you have undoubtedly caught wind of the difficulties The University of Alabama has had finding a football coach to replace Mike Shula. First up, the search (as with all major coaching vacancies) has been conducted in a very public way, with potential candidates being identified in the media often before they have been contacted by Crimson Tide officials. The complications are obvious - candidates who might be interested have to provide spin control even before they have talked to anyone about the offer - after all, what if it doesn't work out and they decide to stay?
The public flavor of this makes me think about counteroffers in general. How does each party - the candidate and the company - maximize themselves when counteroffers become part of the game?
My take for candidates is pretty simple. First the good news - your interest in another job will not show up on the front pages, meaning you have strong ability to go out and talk to other companies as long as you use a good deal of discretion. Now for the bad news - if you get the point of letting your current employer know you are considering or have accepted another offer, never (never!) do it with the goal of generating a counteroffer for more money/responsibility/etc. The road of accepted counteroffers is littered with examples of why it doesn't work out for either the employer or the employee. Bad blood is often the result of the accepted counteroffer, meaning the candidate's departure is simply delayed while the organization suffers.
For the recruiter/company pursuing talent, the specter of the counteroffer means a couple of things. First up, you have to put your best foot forward during the recruiting/interview process to make sure the candidate is overwhelmed by how your company handles the process. That means having the recruiter, HR team, hiring manager and others that interview SELLING the positives about the opportunity and the company. The probability of a counteroffer being accepted is directly correlated to the image in the candidates head - if the recruiting company can make it more than about money, the probability of the accepted counter goes way down. Additionally, if you have a solid performer tell you he or she is leaving, do you really want to counter? Aren't they already mentally gone if they have gotten to the point they tell you they are leaving?
As for the Alabama coaching search? Who knows, just be glad as a potential candidate or recruiter you don't live in this space - what a fishbowl!