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Snow White & the Counter Offer

by Max Jones / Wednesday 9th November 2016

Counter Offer

About a month or so ago I shared something quite personal on this news feed about a certain Year 4 relationship that never quite materialised. While that clearly didn’t emotionally scar me, because I don’t talk about it on blogs at all (!), what did emotionally scar me as a young boy was the Old Witch from the 1937 classic – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

I assume you’re all familiar with the classic but just in case you aren’t, the main premise is around a princess called Snow White who was “the fairest of them all”. This didn’t sit too well with the step-mum (who also happened to be the Queen) who proceeded to spend the entire film trying to poison Snow White under the guise of an old lady.

Absolutely terrifying. Google it, you’ll see.

Long story short, one of the most iconic parts of the film was when the old lady (The Queen!) tempted Snow White with a rosy red apple. Now poor old Snow White had already been warned by her seven dwarfs (that she stumbled across in the woods one day) not to let anybody into the house while they were at work. Despite their warnings, what does Snow White do? Well, she taps into her soft spot for this old lady who is supposedly just offering her a taste of her apples she has in her basket, & takes a big bite into a rose red poisonous apple.

Oh Snow White what have you done! You know you got advised to not do that, you know that your experiences will now no longer be the same, you know it’s not what you really wanted & yet you still did it. Why?

The temptation of the apple was far too great at the time that reason was replaced by emotion. If we think about Snow White as a top billing recruitment consultant & we think of the Old Witch as the current employer, you can really start to see that the poisonous red apple in the 1937 picture is much like the 2016 counter offer. Something that only comes out when a consultant is looking to leave & is only ever agreed to through emotion rather than reason.

It is very common for consultants who are looking to start their own business to be counter offered by their current employer. A final ditch attempt to try & sway what will be one of their most important assets. Looking back over the years SSG have been fortunate enough to not lose anyone to the dreaded counter offer, that’s not because we are so fantastic but because the opportunity to work for yourself & building your own business is far more appealing than £2k extra yearly take home, a bigger desk or a better commission structure.

But just in case you’re a budding recruitment entrepreneur looking to make the tantalising leap & you know you’ll come up against a counter offer or two in the process, let’s explore 5 key reasons you should not accept a counter offer.

1. Buying time to replace you

It sounds odd, but it’s true. Counter offers are usually an opportunity for employers to give themselves some time to search for your replacement, nothing more nothing less. You accept an offer, you’re playing into this.

2. The trust is gone

And once the trust is gone, the relationship soon follows (much like my Year 4 romance). Having laid all your cards on the table & outlined your intentions to leave the agency & set up your own agency which ironically will no doubt be in direct competition to your employer, it’s safe to say that generally speaking that relationship will never be the same.  

If you don’t have that rapport with your employer & instead you simply suggest you’re leaving, the romance will still be dead. Sounds real supportive doesn’t it?

3. You’ve been bought

A rather personal point but nevertheless very true. Unfortunately sometimes accepting a counter offer simply outlines to your employer that you are driven by money & not much else. While we are all driven by “the green” in one sense or another, accepting £2k more on your annual take-home simply shows how serious you weren’t about leaving in the first place

4. Are you worth it

Are you really “worth” that raise? Are you their employee of choice, if they say you are then why did they not increase your pay, expand your desk or increase your earning potential beforehand?

5. Remember why you were leaving in the first place

This is by far the most important point of all.

Too many counter offers are accepted based upon emotion rather than truth. I know it’s very tricky when you are sitting in a room with the senior members of the company & you’re having to explain to them why you are looking to leave their agency. However remembering why you’re there & what you’re going to go do, will help you through the trickier times of handing in your notice.

Parting words

At the end of the day, anyone serious enough to be contemplating starting their own business knows that they would never accept a counter offer.

Anyone serious enough to be making the leap, taking the risk & becoming their own boss knows that whatever they are seeking from their career is not being fulfilled in agency employment.

Anyone serious enough to be taking the first step on their amazing journey knows that their passion, drive & enthusiasm lies way beyond working for someone else.

There are no Price Charming’s in recruitment. No “true loves” kiss to wake Snow White from her counter offer slumber. & while the old witch will always be there, heeding the advice of the dwarfs & remembering why you’re leaving employment in the first place will help you through this tricky stage in your career.