Your Job Resignation

Leaving a job is not always simple. There are emotions involved and it is a good idea if you understand how the process works and then follow a logical procedure.

Below, I have listed a number of tips on how to plan now that you have decided that it is time to resign. Regardless of how you are being treated, you should be a professional as you leave to move on to better opportunities.

If you are still confused about how to resign from your job after going through the items below, please review an additional page with questions and answers on the topic:

  1. Give your employer appropriate advance notice

  2. Submit a letter of resignation

  3. How do most companies react to a resignation?

  4. Include a telephone (or e-mail) contact number

  5. Reject an Employer's Counter Offer

  6. Don't resign until you have a written offer in your hand

  7. Prior to giving notice, don't tell anyone you are about to resign

  8. Before resigning, consider your other options

  9. Leave no unpleasant remnants behind

  10. Resist removing company items or harming intellectual property

  11. What to say (and avoid saying) in your resignation meeting

  12. Manage to maintain your performance during your notice period.

Give your employer appropriate advance notice.

Giving two weeks notice prior to your leaving is the standard practice when resigning from a job. If you have an employment contract or union agreement that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. If not, two weeks notice is appropriate, but not required. If your employer asks you stay longer than two weeks (or the time period in your contract) you have no obligation to stay.

Also, your employer does not have to accept two weeks notice (unless it's in your contract). They can end your employment immediately. You should be ready for that contingency.

Submit a short and neutral letter of resignation

Keep your resignation letter as simple, brief, and focused as possible. Do not include details of problems or suggested remedies. Once you have made the decision to move on, there's no point in criticizing your employer. Your letter of resignation should include information on when you are leaving.

There may be a situation when the circumstances of your resignation are based on unethical or inappropriate behavior on the part of your employer. Perhaps you were treated unfairly during a promotion or your position changed as a result of a reorganization. Regardless of the situation, it is far more important to move on than it is to engage in saying negative remarks about the situation in your letter. If you must indicate that your job situation is not acceptable, keep it in a general tone.

Sample resignation letter

While a statement of thanks to your supervisor is appropriate in many cases, it may not be in your best interest if you intend on pursuing any sort of claim against your employer. If you intend on pursuing a claim against your employer, your resignation letter need only state the effective date of your resignation.

Include a telephone contact number or an e-mail address.

Regardless of why you are leaving, be a professional and provide assistance to your company if they need information from you. They might be calling to find out where to mail you a check.

Reject an Employer's Counter Offer

Your decision to change jobs should be firm and not something you may reconsider. Reversing it to accept a counter offer is likely to be a costly career mistake. There is a good possibility that your company does not want to lose you, particularly in the short-term. Clearly, they will have to train some one new to take on what you have been doing.

They may extend a counteroffer which includes a higher pay rate - a flattering inducement designed to tempt you into changing your mind. But then why did it take a resignation to get them to consider paying you more money?

As tempting and ego-gratifying as a counteroffer may be, interviews with thousands of employees who have succumbed to them have shown that the majority suffered serious setback's to their careers. Only in the most isolated of incidents has the employee derived any significant benefit. Say thanks for the "consideration," but no thank you.

Don't resign until you have a written offer for another job in your hand

Never resign until there is a firm offer from your future employer. Not just a few positive meetings with them. Only a letter written by an authorized individual in the new company HR Department is firm. Even a letter written by an Executive or Department Manager is not enough. HR can overrule if there is no budget for the new job. (Or sometimes for no reason at all). You might have a job lined up, or it could fall through leaving you without any income.

Follow the "frog on the lily pad" approach to job change; never step off one pad without having another pad underfoot.

Prior to giving notice, don't tell anyone in your firm that you are about to resign.

If the word gets back to your manager, you could be surprised in the hallway (or worse, during a staff meeting) by a question you really don't want discussed until everything is nailed down. You could be getting the cold shoulder based on a rumor that you are about to leave. It is tempting to leak the news ...resist the temptation. Maintain total control over your business direction and treat your plan to leave as a "Top Secret."

Before resigning, consider your other options

Never resign in anger. Don't let an incident, no matter how upsetting, determine your career decisions. Talk the situation over with a trusted person who is outside the immediate situation (and preferably outside the company you work for).

Is your company an otherwise good place to work? Is the source of your dissatisfaction only your department/manager? Is it possible to initiate an inter-departmental transfer or consider a promotion rather than quitting? Don't limit your company options based on the conditions in your department.

Leave no unpleasant remnants behind

Before your last day, quietly begin cleaning out your desk. If someone notices, tell them you are doing a bit of spring cleaning. On your PC, remove all personal files and correspondence. Remove any software applications that were not company purchased. If you have a laptop or tablet, it too needs to be swept clean of all non-business software and information. Clean out and delete all sent and received (personal and work-related) e-mails. The next person who occupies your desk should be able to find only ongoing and job-related tools that you have left behind.

Do not remove any items of company property or harm any accessible intellectual property

Turn in your pager, smart phone, tablet and keys. Don't forget to bring in any items you have been using at home. It is unethical and illegal to take property that you have not purchased with your own money. That includes even small items down to staplers. You don't need them and you will get them on your next job.

Regardless of the circumstances leading to your decision to resign, never ever harm any company software or interfere with the content of any business portals. It is unethical and easy to trace who did it. Be a professional.

What to say (and avoid saying) in your resignation meeting

During your resignation meeting, you should be prepared for any kind of reaction, ranging from congratulatory handshakes to guilt trips to out-and-out anger. Regardless of the company's reaction, your plan is to remain calm and professional. You have done nothing wrong, and do not have to answer attacks like, "How could you do this to us?", or any other hostile accusations. Rather than attempt to answer, simply reply, "I'm sorry this has upset you. That wasn't my intention, but I do want to help. Is there anything I can do to help during the transition period?"

lt is imperative that you handle your part of the resignation meeting in a courteous and professional manner. The kind of character reference the company will give you in the future will be strongly influenced by the impression you left behind when you resigned. An angry or embarrassed employer may make all types of derogatory comments about you, and such comments will likely be repeated to everyone who checks your references for the rest of your career.

Another potential trouble area is the inevitable question about why you're leaving, often phrased, "Tell us what's really wrong here?" 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 one bit 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.

Consider this tact: Nothing is "wrong." You simply have been presented with an opportunity that you cannot pass up. Remember also that co-workers 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 co-workers look loyal while making you look like a liar.

Do not underestimate the importance of your performance during your last two weeks.

It is a serious mistake to become "mentally unemployed" and let down while working out your notice. Give it your very best effort right up until the last minute you're there. You will never be sorry you did.

If you have been relieved of most duties and have some time on your hands, you should consider preparing a document that lists the names of key people you have been working with, where important work documents or files can be found, the issues and workarounds you have devised, upcoming project dates and things you feel a new person will need to know to survive on your job. More than a nice gesture, this document can be a life saver to someone else who has to take over your job once you’re gone.

On your last day, and particularly if you receive lots of external calls, adjust your voicemail greeting to refer callers to someone else in your department; and (if possible) disable your voicemail so it does not accept messages. For example,

"I am no longer with [firm name] but your call is important. Betty Smith is available to take your call. She can be reached at [number and extension]. Thank you."

How Most Companies Process a Resignation

The process may vary depending on the size and business model of the firm. Generally, in most medium and large companies, the supervisor quickly notifies his/her boss that you are resigning. They may discuss a possible counter offer or they may let your resignation stand. In short order, the Human Resources (Personnel) office is notified. In some companies, the employee will be required to serve out a contractual notice period or negotiate a mutually agreeable alternate end date with their immediate supervisor.

Your official notice initiates a process to turn off all computer access and your telephone. An inventory of cell phones, laptops, office keys, equipment/tools, vehicle keys, etc., is sent to your manager for collection.

In some sensitive roles, or where the employee is leaving to join a competitor, he or she may be escorted immediately from the company premises. The employee's company ID is voided and his/her e-mail account is deactivated. Employees may also be required to serve their notice period "at home." You should be prepared for the possibility of being "walked out."

The mailroom is informed that you will be leaving on a given date. The payroll office is also notified and calculates any vacation or other accrued hours in preparation for your final check. There is a notification to the benefits office to stop all employer-paid benefit programs.

The company is engaged in closing out your employee relationship as if you never worked there. It can feel callous and brutal. That is why when you decide to resign, you better not have second thoughts

Best wishes on your next job!


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