If you’re reading this, you’ve probably managed to navigate your way through the great emotional journey of securing a new job. You’ve worked past the individual challenges of making the decision to leave, writing a CV, applying for jobs, preparing for and attending interviews and finally reaching the end goal of a job offer. Job jobbed right? Well, not quite.
There is still one more fearsome challenge to overcome – the resignation.
It needn’t be such a daunting process though. Here are a few simple tips to make the experience as painless as possible…
Timing is everything
Never resign until you have received the confirmed offer in writing from your prospective employer. It’s very rare that anything goes wrong between the verbal offer and receiving formal written details, but your career is too important to take this risk on.
Then strike while this iron is hot – do not procrastinate. Procrastination at this stage can be damaging on a number of levels. As with any challenge in life, the more you put it off the more daunting it becomes. Doubts may start to creep in and it’s easy to forget the reasons why you’ve put yourself through the great journey. Procrastination at this stage also doesn’t look good to your new employer. Their job offer is the equivalent to someone saying those three immortal words “I love you” - nobody likes waiting for the reply!
Resign with confidence and bear in mind all of those reasons that lead you to set out on this great journey. Never resign by email, it’s just bad form. You wouldn’t want to receive any piece of important information by email and neither will your manager. A letter in an envelope delivered by hand to your manager, having already requested a meeting, is the way to go. The contents of the letter should be simple and straight to the point. This is not the time to air your frustrations about the poor food in the canteen, Bob’s halitosis or Geoff’s body odour. A simple “it’s been a great 3 years during which time I’ve learned loads and enjoyed the challenges, but now is the time for me to move on and learn something new. Thanks for all of your support” is the right kind of tone. There are some good ideas for resignation letter templates available online – for example www.i-resign.com
Beware the Counter-offer Sirens
Talent is in huge demand. Assuming that your employer is not downsizing and that you’re half-decent at your job, you should expect that you might be counter-offered. Your manager will know how difficult, time consuming and expensive it will be to replace you, so they will not want to go through this process.
This is the time to continually remind yourself as to why you set out on this great journey, why you have chosen to join your new employer and above all to stand firm. It will be flattering to hear that your current employer doesn’t want you to leave, but don’t let these emotions cloud your decision.
Counter-offers can take a variety of forms – increased salary, promotion, promise of more interesting projects, better working conditions etc. But ask yourself why has it taken your resignation for you to be suddenly considered for a pay rise and these new projects? Is this a belated recognition of your hard work and talents? If so, wouldn’t it have been much more flattering if it had come unprompted?
There’s always been a statistic floating around in recruitment circles that 90% of candidates who accept a counter-offer are back on the job market again within 6 months. Now, I’ve never seen the hard evidence to support this study, but in my experience this “feels” about right. Again, the romantic analogy here works – the trust is gone as you’re seen to have cheated on your current employer by flirting with another! And without trust, any relationship is going to be difficult at best. Sometimes these new exciting projects don’t materialise or the promise of a seat by the window ends up not being logistically possible. Your manager has saved time and money by persuading you to stay and has gained “kudos” with his manager by changing your mind. But have you now ended up being an expensive resource for your position? Have you been promoted into a position that you weren’t ready for, or the company weren’t ready to support you in? Will the manager try to “manage you out” of the company in his own time and under his own terms? Will you have to threaten to resign every time you are due a pay rise or promotion?
Happily ever after
But if handled properly and professionally by both parties, the resignation process should be a simple one without too much emotion. You’ve got your new job in the bag, you have left on good terms with your previous employer and everybody lives happily ever after.
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