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Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Guide to job hunting – How to resign with grace

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People change jobs for all sorts of different reasons. 

But once you have made the decision to move on, you might discover that you are emotionally attached to the old job. Whether the emotions are positive or negative, they can be hard to overcome!

 Perhaps you initially considered changing companies because your present job can no longer offer the growth potential to match your experience. But maybe your present company has helped you progress professionally. Or you may have some strong interpersonal relationships. Moving on will mean leaving the company of fellow managers and colleagues. You may even see some of them out of work as social friends.

So resigning from a job can be a stressful and emotional experience. After all, you may have worked for your current employer for a long time, and your reasons for leaving may be practical rather than emotional. However, both scenarios hold some potential to turn into difficult situations.

 Think about the following frequently asked questions to make your task easier:

1.       “So what can I expect when I tender my resignation?”

Your company will most likely be sorry to lose you. They may be gracious about it, and send off with their best wishes. But remember, you have contributed to their sales and profits. You might be currently involved in a project within your workplace that requires your specific talents. Put yourself in your boss’s position. What would you do? Losing you may not fit in with their business plans! They may try to make it difficult for you to leave.

2.       “What do I do first – Talk to them, or write my resignation?”

It is probably best to make an appointment with your current line manager. Before you go in, write your letter of resignation stating your name, job title, the period of your notice in terms of your employment contract and your final date of work. There is no need to go into too much detail on paper, although questions are likely to be asked during your verbal resignation.

3.       “Should I tell them where I am going to work?”

This is entirely at your own discretion. However: Honesty, clarity and transparency does not have a price. Always make sure that you will get a good reference, either now or in the future. Leaving under suspicious circumstances are likely to impact on your personal reputation.

4.       “Do I have to do an exit interview?”

Most companies with positive people processes will require exit interviews with employees who resign. They do this is n order to improve their retention strategies, and to find out if there are problems within their workforce that they are not aware of. It is a very good thing on your part to participate positively. As satisfying as it may be to “unload” about your manager’s failings or the company’s problems, it is never a good idea. No company has ever changed as the result of a “disgruntled quitter” generously informing them of their misdeeds. Nothing is accomplished except leaving behind a bad impression about your lack of professionalism. Remember, nothing is wrong. You simply have made a commitment to join another business.

5.       “Should I tell my colleagues that I am leaving?”

There is nothing worse for anyone’s reputation than causing upheaval amongst the employees who stay behind. Negotiate with your line manager the best time to break your news. They may want to do this officially first, before you start telling people. Remember that your colleagues will be curious about why you are leaving. Whether they corner you at work or call you at home, tell them exactly what you told the company. Anything you say will get back, and ‘sour-grapes’ comments can be used to make your colleagues look loyal whilst making you look like a liar. Always be honest, gracious and considerate of other people’s feelings, as long as the longer term impact of the messages you are going to be sending out. Keep upbeat and positive!

6.       “How long should I give notice?”

Your notice period was contractually agreed when you first started. The maximum you are obliged to give, is whatever was contractually agreed. If your new employer wants you to start sooner, then you may be able to negotiate a shorter notice period but a lot depends on the good grace of your current employer. Don’t accept a job offer on a provisioned start date that is earlier than your anticipated release date following your notice period: You may end up contractually compromised. It may be possible to use available leave to get an earlier release date, but your current employer has to agree.

That is why it is so important to keep your exit negotiations positive and pleasant.

7.       “What if they try to stop me from leaving?”

No employer can force an employee to stay in their employment. It is natural to resist change and disruption. Your boss will be no exception. He will want to keep you and may attempt to do so with a counter offer. In his eyes, your acceptance of a new job is definitely a mistake.

Counter Offers may have many variations:

  • “This is confidential and I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but we were looking at promoting you in the next six months.”
  • “We will match your new offer and put it into effect next pay day. I had meant to review it anyway.”
  • “Don’t make a decision now, have a think about it and we’ll sit down next week and discuss it.”

Implications of the Counter Offer: Of course, it is flattering that your company is concerned to hear that you are leaving, so you can become emotionally involved and this may obscure the reasons behind your decision to leave. It is natural to be apprehensive about leaving and to let that one final, nagging doubt about doing the right thing grow out of proportion, the more your boss tries to convince you.

Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • “I made the decision to leave because I felt the new position offered me the best environment to fulfil my career needs. If I stay will the situation here really improve just because I said I was leaving?”
  • “If I stay, will my loyalty be suspect and affect my chance for advancement once the dust has settled?”
  • “This rise makes me expensive for the job position I’m in. How will that affect any future rises?”
  • “I got this counter offer because I resigned – will I have to do that the next time I think I’m ready for a salary increase or promotion?”
  • “Will I get the same type of new job offer in future, if I decided to stay now?”

Have the courage of your own conviction

Resist the temptation to be swayed by promises, cajoling or emotional blackmail. Be true to your original plans, and trust the integrity of your future employer who has made you a new job offer in good faith.

Remember – Burnt bridges can’t always be mended! Keep positive, enthusiastic and forward looking. The new job will be great, especially if you manage to keep your personal reputation intact.



Written by Cathy Richardson

January 22, 2014 at 10:41 am

Posted in Recruitment

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