When it comes to jobs, there are two (almost) certainties: you’ll get one and, at some stage, you’ll leave for a new one.
No matter what the cause, it’s very rare for people to stay in the one job for a lifetime. Most people now switch jobs and careers a number of times during their working-life.
Knowing this, how do you maintain your relationships with those around you and resign in a professional manner? While the theory seems straightforward, you would be amazed at how often we recruiters learn of people who leave an employer in a totally unprofessional manner.
While certainly there are unique situations in all work settings, there are certain actions you can take to ensure that you depart in a professional manner. By acting properly, you can be confident of maintaining a positive relationship with your former employer and that even after you leave you are viewed with respect.
There are four key aspects for you to remember:
Keep focused on your current job while looking for your next
People sense when you have a change of attitude to your work. You’ll likely display less interest in strategic issues, projects or long-term planning. It is easy for a person to develop a short-term mindset as their thoughts turn to seeking a new position.
People seeking a new role also don’t appreciate that this change in mindset is often accompanied by other signals to colleagues. A pattern of whispered telephone conversations, ducking outside to speak on your mobile and unexplained absences from your workplace sends a message to people around you.
Some of this is simply unavoidable. Experts tell us that looking for a new role is like having a second job. It is therefore absolutely critical that you’re doubly diligent in providing full value in your first job.
Make it a point to give plenty of notice when it comes time to resign. While your new employer often asks you to start ‘tomorrow’, they will also respect a person who gives consideration to the situation of their current employer. Don’t give the bare minimum of notice (or ask for an even quicker departure) and leave your company in the lurch. Instead, negotiate to allow them a period where you can continue to work while they find a suitable replacement.
Doing so reduces their anxiety about replacing you or losing out on productivity. It can also provide them the resources they need to ensure the transition is seamless. Even if you think your current employer doesn’t deserve such support, always remember the old saying about ‘what goes around, comes around.’
Your reason for leaving
Be open about your reason for leaving. Your organisation will usually accept it if you say you want a new challenge or a different opportunity. However, if there were issues/difficulties in the role, you can also help them by explaining these circumstances. Hopefully they can then improve the situation for others who might move into the role.
Obviously you need to take care with how this feedback is given. Much better to explain “the new person will be better able to contribute if you immediately lock-in weekly one-to-one meeting times”. This is less confronting than “I’m leaving because you never spent any time communicating with me.”
By opening up communications with them about what can be improved (in a professional way) you can assist in attracting and retaining the next person. Just be careful that your feedback is conveyed in a positive manner. You don’t want to be viewed as dumping a range of negatives on them.
Don’t burn bridges
Above all, it’s important to remember that we live in a small and connected community. When you also consider your industry and geographic location, the world is much, much smaller than you think. It is in your best interests to ensure you keep on good terms with your employers when you leave. You never know when you might be back or in need of a reference. It is surprising how often, just a few years later, people get in contact with their former employer about a job opening. Knowing this and keeping a positive relationship will allow you to take full advantage!
All in all, keeping on good terms with your former managers is critical. No matter who you are! People talk, and when it comes to resigning and providing your notice, if you can preserve a positive relationship with your former organisation, that will go a long way to making you more attractive to a new employer.
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