When most people leave their job, they do it politely. The procedure for resigning is simple enough: give notice, preferably in advance.
But even if you hold a grudge, burning bridges on your way out is a seriously bad idea. It might leave you momentarily satisfied but you'll be creating obstacles for future opportunities.
So how do you get it right?
Consider your notice period - It is important to give proper resignation notice; your company’s resignation period will be listed in your contract or the company’s policy manual. If you cannot work your notice, you will not only run the risk of upsetting the company, your colleagues and current clients, but you may also lose any termination benefits, such as pay for unused vacation.
You may be pushed by your new employer to start with them as soon as possible, requesting you to shorten your notice period. Although this may be tempting, you must be responsible, it is advisable to never take this avenue.
You may be pushed by your new employer to start with them as soon as possible, requesting you to shorten your notice period.
Inform your manager in person - It's best practice to inform your manager in person that you’re leaving the company, then follow it up in a letter - not an email. Keep your letter formal and friendly.
Keep your resignation quiet - There could be business-critical reasons for keeping your resignation quiet so follow your manager's lead when it comes to breaking the news.
Manage your handover in a professional manner - Keep people onside, be a true professional and make sure your projects and duties are all in order before you leave and try to clear up any unfinished business.
Anything left will impact on your existing colleagues/team/bosses and you never know when you may have to work with past colleagues again, either in another company as colleagues or as clients in a business capacity. Ensure that a thorough handover is given and notes are completed.
Check your references - Before you leave ask what sort of reference you’ll be given as it’s better to deal with the issue up front than get a nasty surprise later. References can be more thorough when taken quickly as bosses are more likely to remember your finer points, so there is less risk of receiving a vague, mediocre reference.
Managing counter offers - Once you’ve resigned, don’t change your mind - as soon as you have made it perfectly clear that you want to leave, your loyalty will be in question. Research shows that employees who take a counter-offer or go back on their decision mostly end up leaving in a matter of months anyway.
Know your worth, download the Robert Walters Salary Survey.
For more career advice please contact:
Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager (South Africa)
+27 (0) 11 881 2414