In a Heidrick & Struggles survey of more than 700 executives and HR leaders, over 80% of respondents agreed that leaving a job poorly will have a negative impact on your future career.1 A clumsy resignation can damage your reputation, in addition to professional relationships that you have cultivated for years.
In this article, you will learn how to resign. Follow these three steps and your reputation and relationships will get even stronger.
Step 1: Consider the timing of your announcement and your official exit.
Regardless of your role, your departure will have an impact on other people working at your organization. In addition, your exit will also impact people outside of your organization.
Give some thought to (a) the best time to announce your resignation and (b) the best time to officially leave your role. Even if the company that you are about to join is extremely eager for you to get started, they should respect your desire to leave your current role gracefully.
The more senior you are and the harder that you will be to replace, the more notice that you should give your current employer. Two weeks of notice might be fine for leaving a relatively junior position. However, executives typically want to give their employers at least 3-4 weeks of notice, maybe even more. If possible, work with your current boss to determine how much time will be needed to ensure a smooth transition.
Step 2: Announce your resignation strategically.
Craft and rehearse the best way to explain why you are accepting a new role. Emphasize why you are joining your next company, rather than why you are leaving your current company.
Make a list of everyone (internally and externally) that you have worked with closely during your tenure. Plan to notify each of these people personally. Ask each person to keep your transition “confidential for now.”
Explain that you want to share your news with a few other people individually before any announcements are made. The last thing that you want is for your company to send an announcement before you have had a chance to speak with key colleagues first.
In an ideal world, each person would respect your desire to inform other people individually. In reality, some people might be tempted to gossip. Others might not feel the need to keep your resignation a secret. As a result, it’s also important to think about the order in which you will notify others. Certain people must be informed first.
During each of these conversations, find a way to thank and appreciate each person. End on a good note, even if the person wasn’t that great to work with. You are doing this for you, not for them. There is nothing to be gained by being critical on the way out, and there is much that could be lost.
Chances are that your next job will not be your last job. One reason why it’s important to leave on good terms is because the people that you are leaving now will be your references when you explore other opportunities after your next one.
As for how you tell people, certain conversations must be face-to-face. Others can occur by phone or email.
Step 3: Finish strong and ensure a smooth transition.
Once you have accepted a new job, it might be tempting to direct most of your mental energy into getting ready for your next role. However, it’s important to finish strong in your current position. Your colleagues and customers will remember that way that you left, in addition to what you left them.
Organize any of your outstanding projects, and complete or delegate as many tasks as possible. Do whatever you can to make the transition as smooth as possible for the organization and for the people who will be impacted by your departure. Your final few weeks at a company might be what people remember most about you.
No matter how thorough you are, your colleagues will probably still have some questions after you leave. Offer to be available in case any questions come up. When they do, respond quickly and favorably.
About the author: Pete Leibman is an executive recruiter, speaker, and author who helps leaders and companies thrive. He is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and he’s the bestselling author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work.
References for this article:
- Kay Kelly, “How to Leave A Job Gracefully.” Heidrick & Struggles, July 26, 2017, https://www.heidrick.com/Knowledge-Center/Publication/How_to_leave_a_job_gracefully.