Writing your resignation
It may feel strange, especially if you have been with a company for a while, but your resignation letter does not have to contain very much detail.
All you really need to include is the date; your name; the name of the person to whom you are writing; the fact that you are giving notice to terminate your employment; and the date on which you will be leaving your job. You will also need to include your signature to make the letter official.
You may choose to use this letter to offer thanks to your employer, although this is not essential. What is vital is that this letter is not used as a platform from which to complain. Not being civil during your resignation period could have an adverse effect on your business reputation.
Acting professionally during your notice period is thus essential. Completing any hand-over to the best of your ability will do your reputation no harm. It will leave a positive impression on members of the management team, some of whom you may well meet again later in your career. It will also make it far more likely that your bosses will not quibble over any commission or holiday pay that you are hoping to receive.
Once written, it is best to make an appointment with your manager to hand over your letter rather than simply leaving it on their desk.
To stay or go?
Upon receiving your letter of resignation, your current employer may decide to make you a counter-offer in a bid to make you stay. This can be flattering and may seem an appealing way in which to avoid the stress and upheaval of a job move. But is staying where you are really the right move?
Think about why you wanted to move in the first place and whether what is being offered will rectify the issues involved. Will a promotion, for example, make a long commute more bearable or solve the problem of an unhappy atmosphere in the office? How will you feel if you stay and have to work with people who know that you have seriously considered working somewhere else?
Handling a counter-offer
A counter-offer can be pleasing in that it demonstrates that your current employer values you sufficiently to want you to stay. But it can also create an unforeseen quandary.
The most important thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to consider the counter-offer as you would any other job offer.
Details such as feeling comfortable in your current surroundings and knowing the ropes should not come into play until you have considered all of the other facts and only if they become the deciding factor between two offers of equal merit.
Look at which offer is likely to enable you to use the skills you have and to develop more as you progress along your chosen career path. Consider your feelings about the businesses involved and the managers with whom you will work. Think about the financial rewards available and also any other opportunities that you are being offered.
There are also other factors that you should consider when making your decision, such as:
The importance of money
If your salary was the sole reason why you wanted to leave your job then the promise of a pay rise might be enough to make you want to stay. It is important, however, to consider whether there were also other factors involved.
Some issues may be solved by a counter-offer, such as reduced workload leading to a better work/life balance or an increased level of responsibility allowing you to move along the career path. However, in many cases, the reasons for a resignation are far more complex than this.
Unless money is your sole motivator, it would be wise to be wary of any counter-offer; many people who choose to stay put find themselves simply re-starting a job search within a relatively short period of time as the original issues rear their heads once again.
Why you wanted to leave
Look hard at why you were prepared to leave your current role. If it was because you felt undervalued or not rewarded for your efforts, you need to think about the fact that it took your resignation to prompt action from your current company.
You need to consider the possibility that you might be better served by working for a company that does not let you become disillusioned or dissatisfied in the first place; one that acts pro-actively rather than reactively when it comes to your professional needs and interests.
If money is your prime concern, it is also important to consider whether accepting a counter-offer will mean that you are being paid significantly more than the market average. Whilst this may feel good in the short-term, it may also mean that future job moves could come as a shock to you and your finances. It may also mean that you feel compelled to stay in your role even when you feel the time is right to move on.
What are the effects of your resignation?
You may have been offered more money or an enhanced role but what has your original resignation done to your reputation? Will your company loyalty be called into question by your managers and colleagues; will there be whisperings about a ploy to get a better deal; or will you be the first to be shown the door if a reorganisation takes place?
What will you gain from staying?
It is a fact that most people progress their career at the fastest rate through external moves, but that’s not always the case and so it is important to consider any counter-offer seriously. It’s also important to think about the business ‘equity’ you will leave behind if you decide to move to a company where you have no existing relationships and no proven track record.
How to leave well
If you do decide to leave your current role it’s vital that you do so with your professional reputation intact and without needlessly burning bridges.
- Tip 1: If you have received a counter-offer that you ultimately go on to reject, ensure that you thank your employer for their vote of confidence and the effort put into making you want to stay.
- Tip 2: Even if there’s been no persuasive offer, it’s often beneficial to thank your employer for the time you have spent with the company. After all, in a transient world, you can never be sure when you might encounter the same people again.
- Tip 3: Don’t be tempted to resort to badmouthing your current company to colleagues, managers or online. It’s amazing how comments have a habit of finding their way back to interested ears.
- Tip 4: Upsetting the people with whom you have been working may affect your chance of the best possible reference and damage your professional reputation.
Things to do
- Check what notice period you’re obligated to serve and consider how your resignation will impact on the running of the business or the fulfilment of a particular project. Could you extend your notice period to minimise the business impact and ensure that you leave on the best possible terms?
- Once you’ve made the decision to leave, make your manager your first port of call. It’s far better that they hear the news from you rather than as gossip over the coffee machine.
- You will need to write a letter of resignation and deliver it in person. Try to schedule a meeting with your boss when they have enough time to listen to your reasons for moving on. The end of the day might be the best time.
- When you’re offering your reasons, try to be honest but avoid being rude or disrespectful about individuals or the business as a whole. Don’t use reasons such as disliking your colleagues or boss. Instead, talk about the positive aspects of your current role and the benefits you foresee from your planned career move.
- Talking negatively about your co-workers or the company could limit future opportunities, prevent your boss from recommending you for opportunities and cause untold embarrassment in future business or social situations.
- If you receive a counter-offer, consider it carefully, but also be objective and brave when making your final decision.
- If you do decide to go through with your resignation, keep your commitment and professionalism at their highest levels until you have taken your final walk out of the door. You don’t want to be remembered as someone who failed to perform during their notice period, leaving others to take up the slack.
- Try to be as helpful as possible when it comes to the hand-over process. Could you train your replacement or spend a little extra time to ensure that a project is finished or that all loose ends are tied up?
- Ensure you clear your desk and make sure that any technology is prepared for a new user. Clean up your emails and return any company property or required documentation.
- On your leaving day, thank your colleagues for their input into your career and exchange contact details. Don’t rant and try to leave with a genuine smile. Your colleagues should feel that you’re moving towards a new, exciting chapter in your career rather than moving away from a bad experience.