Is this a loaded topic or what? As a recruiter, I deal with this subject on a daily basis
and it isn't always as easy as it appears.....some people struggle heavily in this area.
What makes resignations so difficult is that there are many steps involved in the
process - making the decision, acceptance/rejection, writing the memo, counteroffers,
and exit interviews - the more steps equal more potential opportunities to screw up.
My goal is to take the next couple weeks and discuss not only the overall process, but
also some of the individual items, such as resignation letters, counteroffers, and exit
Prior to any announcement is the decision - do I stay or do I go? For me, I always go
back to why a candidate first contacted me or was willing to go through the interview
process. There is always a driving force (usually several) behind an individual seeking
new employment. So the determining question on whether to stay or go is "does this
new position solve my problem(s)". If the answer is no, then you will probably be
looking again real soon (ie: you would be better off waiting for another opportunity),
but if the answer is yes, well congratulations, you have just graduated from the
interview process to the resignation process.
It is important to note that there is no perfect procedure for resigning, but I will try to
do my best to outline the direction you want to steer the ship. One overall theme to
this journey, is that everything is done professionally (being professional is treating
others as you would like to be treated). Resignations are not about getting even or
retribution, they are about bettering you career. Remember, it takes few words or
actions to torch bridges......
That being said, let's back up a bit and not just jump head first into making the
announcement, as there are a few housekeeping items that need to be completed first.
After a "yes" decision has been reached and you are ready to move on with your career,
it is very critical to get everything sealed up with the new company prior to informing
current employer of your intentions. Most employers when making an offer will provide
you with an offer letter outlining compensation, benefits, start date, and other items. I
am a firm believer in obtaining a written acceptance. This presents an opportunity for
another face to face meeting, where both sides can discuss all the details and
expectations up front. Remember, how an employer handles this, tells you a lot about
how they work internally. If you decide to reject the offer, then you should not send
them an email, but instead call or meet with the hiring manager to inform them of your
decision. Again, making a positive impression by handling it in a professional manner
will go a long way.
Okay, let's assume that we have an accepted offer letter signed, now what? The next
step is to write a resignation letter - I will cover this in a future blog, so let's just
pretend that the letter is satisfactory. DO NOT EMAIL THIS LETTER TO YOUR BOSS. It is
not the professional thing to do. Instead, schedule a meeting with your supervisor (be
vague on the subject). At the meeting, politely inform your supervisor of your decision
and hand them the letter. Prior to this meeting, you should have cleaned out your
office (keep only what is yours), as some companies will walk you out of the building
following this meeting. Traditionally, unless there are extenuating circumstances, two
weeks notice is common practice. During this two weeks, you should focus on three
things - 1) alerting your professional network of your career change (only say good
things about the company you are leaving), 2) Finish up all tasks assigned to you (do
not slack off and have a cheerful attitude), and 3) be willing to train your replacement.
If you do these things, doors remain open.
Finally, some organizations will attempt counteroffers and/or exit interviews.
Previously, I wrote a blog on counteroffers (I may re-post this later) and I expect to
write the next article on exit interviews, but in short I will say, if you can avoid the exit
interview, avoid it, and if presented a counteroffer, there are very few scenario's where
accepting one is to your long-term advantage.
Hopefully, this has given a broad scope to the steps in the process. Check back later
for more detailed discussions.