Resigning from a job is difficult. We’ve all done it yet is does not get easier. Whether you have been with your current employer for 12 months or 12 years, there will always be a level of discomfort when announcing you are leaving.
What follows are some basic reminders when moving jobs. This simple advice will help preserve the relationship and ensure your bridges are not burned when you move on.
Closely review your contracts
I’m still surprised by the number of people who are not aware of basic aspects of their current contract. This includes matters such as the resignation period they are required to provide.
I’ve also heard of people who have resigned to only then learn they:
- are responsible for repayment of support they received for education costs or relocation expenses.
- Have issues with a non-compete clause when moving to a competitor.
- Their timing has meant they have foregone a benefit (for example a bonus).
The message is that when you are starting a search for a new role, a priority is to closely review the details of your current contract. A misunderstanding on contractual matters will create issues for you and your current employer; and perhaps spill over to impact your new employer.
Telling your current employer you are leaving
When it is time to resign, the first person you speak to is your manager. Under no circumstances should you ever confide to any other person before you speak to your manager.
No matter how trusted and close you are to a colleague, you should assume that word will get out. A comment such as “keep this totally confidential but I’m expecting a job offer” is likely to spread quickly.
There is often some level of tension associated with a resignation. Such tension is magnified if your manager hears the news first from anyone else but you.
Don’t be flattered by a counter-offer
The steps after a resignation follow a common pattern. Usually it starts with surprise where your manager & other senior people appear to be shocked that you are leaving. It then moves to curiosity: “Where are you going” and sometimes “how much are they paying you?”
At times there’s a third stage: the counter-offer. This could even be dressed up with assurances that the intention was to recognise your contribution, with a remuneration increase, at some time in the very near future. Often the complements and praise, associated with a salary increase, has a person deciding to stay with their current organisation.
Yet research shows that accepting a counter-offer rarely proves successful. There are two reasons for this:
- The underlying factors that caused you to seek a new role don’t change in a significant way; and
- The organisation identifies you as someone who was ready to ‘jump ship’.
Unfortunately the outcome is that your departure will usually happen at a time to suit the employer, not you.
Working out your notice period
No matter how close you are to colleagues, obviously things will change when your resignation becomes known. You’ll still be involved in the day-to-day to ensure work keeps ticking over. There will also likely be some focus upon training others or documenting aspects of your role to allow for a transition. However, any longer-term planning, strategic matters or projects will not include you. In effect, you’ll become somewhat isolated from your colleagues.
I’ve heard people say they felt like a short term temp during this time: they were made to feel welcome but never felt part of the team. Your last days will be much easier to navigate if you accept this reality.
What you do and how you operate in the period between resignation and departure will greatly influence the organisations memory of you. It is so important, for many reasons, that the lasting impression is a positive one.