Giving notice and leaving a job can be one of the most difficult and emotional parts of a job search, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you are miserable in your job and can’t wait to resign, or leaving is bittersweet, there are some things you can do to make the resignation process smooth. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Clean things up – while it’s a good idea to keep your business and personal life separated, most of us have sent personal emails from a work account, logged into personal websites, etc., from work. Before you give notice, it’s a good idea to delete personal files, stored passwords for personal online accounts, and make sure you have any personal information that you’ll need after you are gone.
- Write a resignation letter and tell your boss first – avoid the temptation of telling friends or colleagues in the office first. Write a short professional letter and have a few copies available (for your boss, HR, etc.). The letter should simply state that you are resigning and offering 2 weeks notice, and your last date will be on a specific day. You are under no obligation to tell your employer anything about where you are going, why you are leaving, or the offer amount you received. In fact, you are much better off not telling this information to anybody during your resignation process. I advise candidates to take this approach because it makes the transition period out a lot easier. If you tell your current employer anything about the reasons for your departure, you are giving them all the ammunition they need to make you feel guilty, make you susceptible to a counteroffer, and manipulate you! This is a bad scenario and should be avoided at all costs! Counteroffers almost NEVER work out. Industry research shows that over 80% of people who take counter offers leave within six months of taking them. I’ll talk more about counteroffers in a later post and link to it here.
- Offer to be helpful but be mindful of your soon-to-be employer’s needs – it’s a good idea to tell the company you are leaving that you will do what you can in order to make the transition period out as smooth as possible. Offering to put in some extra hours during the notice period, to be available after you leave to answer brief questions, etc., is a professional and thoughtful gesture. However, in very few instances is it acceptable to give more than two weeks notice. I often see job changers get hung up on a sense of loyalty to the employer they are leaving, or a belief that things will come crashing down if they aren’t there to help. The reality is that life will go on for the employer you are leaving. It is important to start the new job on the best terms possible. The new employer will probably want you there ASAP, so don’t forget that they are waiting for you!
- Don’t go off the rails in an exit interview – if your company asks you to do an exit interview, don’t turn it into an airing of grievances session. Be mindful about what questions you answer, and politely decline to answer any questions you aren’t comfortable with. Keep in mind that the employer may not be done making a run at a counteroffer yet. Anything you tell them about your motivations for leaving, new offer, etc., can easily be turned around and used to make you second guess your decision. Second, any criticism of coworkers, bosses, and culture can create animosity and negative opinions of you.
Giving notice is hard, but you have a lot of control over how easy the process will be by following these guidelines. In general, I advise candidates to follow the “less is more” approach. Remember, you are moving on to something you are excited about!