Congratulations! You just got an offer for a wonderful new job. There’s just one catch. You have to say good-bye to your current employer.
Maybe you loved your job and you face an emotional farewell. Or you maybe you hated every minute and you’ve been counting the days till you could walk out the door one last time.
Clients often admit they’re nervous about making the departure announcement. They’re afraid the boss will be angry. They feel guilty about the work they’re leaving behind. Maybe someone else has to take up the slack for a while.
But clients also wonder how to resign gracefully yet still protect their own longer-term career interests. They suspect their departure style will influence their careers for a long time,
Here are some guidelines to move to your next position with grace and style.
- Give the correct amount of notice required by your company’s written policy.
Every so often my clients feel sorry for their former colleagues. So they stick around an extra week (or even an extra month). Inevitably, they begin to feel like a fifth wheel. Nearly everyone says, “Next time I’m leaving right away!”
- After you leave, do not accept any job-related calls from your company unless you have a written consulting contract.
Your boss required two weeks’ notice – but belatedly realized she needs four weeks for a smooth transition to your successor.
Your boss made a business decision to require two weeks’ notice. When she miscalculates, she needs to accept the cost, just as she’d accept the cost of late payments to a supplier.
If your company needs additional help, offer to work as a paid consultant with a contract. But get everything in writing and make sure your new job becomes your Number One priority.
- Study your current and future company policies regarding disclosures and no-compete agreements.
Some companies are extremely proprietary about their process and their people. Once you resign, you may have to leave the workplace immediately. Or your new company may ask you not to work for your former employer, even on a part-time basis.
- Resign to your boss in person, if at all possible.
The phone is second best. And tell the boss before you tell anyone else – even your best friend or golfing buddy.
- Expect your boss to be professional.
Clients often fear the boss’s reaction. However, bosses rarely are caught by surprise. Good bosses are happy to see their employees move ahead. Thank her for the opportunity to learn, which has led to your newest and most wonderful career move.
- Thank your boss and your coworkers, even if you hate them all and can’t wait to leave.
You may regard them more fondly through a haze of memories than a glare of office lighting. You may encounter them at conventions and networking groups. And most likely you will benefit from strong references and goodwill.
- Decline a counter-offer.
Recruiters consistently tell me, “Sixty per cent of those who accept a counter-offer are gone in six months.” If you decide to stay, get a written job contract.
Exception: A few companies and industries actually demand proof of an outside offer before offering you any kind of internal raise or reward. College professors often work in this environment.
- Treat the exit interview as a business formality, not a therapy session.
When a Human Resource professional asks why you are leaving, be upbeat and positive: “for a better opportunity.” Talk about how much you loved the company and your job. You never know where your comments will turn up, mangled and misinterpreted.
- Resist entreaties to share the details of your future position with anyone.
Occasionally a colleague will try to assess your salary or other information “so we can stay competitive in recruiting.” Helping your company recruit is not part of your job and anyway, do you really believe this?
Details of your future employment should remain confidential, even from your close friends in the company.
- Focus on your new opportunity – not your past experience.
Once you’re gone, you’re history. The very same folks who loved meeting you for lunch will barely remember your name a week later.
And, if you haven’t changed jobs for awhile you may be in for a shock. Your first day in a new position can be a real eye-opener!