Monday, July 29, 2013

Resignation Prep

Some readers see the title and think, “What, resignation prep, is that a joke?” Resigning from one job to move on to another is an afterthought for most people. However, among experienced recruiters, we know the process is not yet finished when a job offer has been accepted. No, we still have to get the person we’ve represented through their resignation; we know there is still potential for things to go wrong and kill the deal. So what does this mean for you, the applicant, who has just emerged from a strenuous interview process. After all you’ve won, you got the job, the rest is easy isn’t it? Not so fast. 

I’ve worked with a lot of people who dismissed my advice and found that, when it was time to leave their current job, they experienced just as much, and sometimes more, stress and grief than they did going through the recent interview process. Especially if you’ve done a good job, performed well and have been a valued member at your current place of work, when it is time to leave, a few things can occur you may not expect or be prepared for. Here are a few examples:
  • They may not want to accept your resignation
  • They may ask you to delay your resignation so they can consider other options
  • They may present you with a counter-offer
  • Your manager may take it a little too personally
Each of these points are easily a topic for separate blog entries at a later date, but let me at least explain each one just a bit. 

Won’t accept your resignation
If you are a valued employee they may recognize you’ll be hard to replace. So they’ll just come out and tell you they don’t want you to leave. Meanwhile, in your own mind you’re already outa’ there and looking forward to your new job. So, now what are you going to do? If your decision is final, there should be no problem as you stand your ground, resolute about your decision to leave. If you are not then, well, get ready, you are about to get back on the roller coaster. 

Ask you to delay your decision
Perhaps they will conceive of the idea that if they can get you to delay your resignation they can convince you to reverse your decision. You’ve likely caught your employer off guard; they weren’t ready for this. Giving them breathing room will only make it tougher for you to make a clean break, if that is what you seek. Likewise, they are betting you will blink first with this delaying tactic. 

You may get a counter-offer
They may offer you more money or some other enticement to stay. You may take the bait and be willing to stay. Depending on the circumstances, it might not be a career killer, but I know that most of the time, about 6 months after the fact, most people who’ve accepted counteroffers realize it did nothing to cure the symptoms that led to their decision to leave. Meanwhile, the other job for which you interviewed and won has gone away.

Your manager will take it as a personal affront
Managers at all levels are under increased pressure to deliver results; your boss also has a boss. Your choice to leave might cause an unpleasant reaction if they personalize your choice to leave. The brevity of this blog prevents me from sharing some nasty treatment others have experienced when they tried to professionally exit. Most people might not experience this, but many of the people who did also thought that resigning would be a simple matter. 

So, how can you avoid this potential difficulty at a time when you should be celebrating? I suggest first and foremost that before you accept a new job offer you consider these scenarios, because if you aren’t serious and you haven’t yet discussed with your manager the reasons you are not happy and considering a new job, then you’re not serious. Likewise, if you haven’t run these scenarios through your head and are ill-prepared, then you’re just asking for the drama. 

However, if your mind is made up that you want to leave, you have a new job and all that’s left is to resign in a professional manner, don’t be swayed by delaying tactics or anyone projecting onto you their own issues. Before you resign craft your resignation letter, make an appointment and hold your head up, confident of your decision - its business, it’s not personal and don’t allow anyone to make it that way.

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  1. Very timely and fantastic advice as I am just preparing to resign! Will be back to comment with some real experience:-) ED

    1. Perhaps nothing will happen and it will go smoothly. At least you will have been prepared if it does not. Good luck!