Leaving your job

Accepting a new position is an exciting time - looking forward to your future career can and should give you a real sense of achievement. But then there's also the matter of handing in your resignation, which for some can be a daunting prospect. So here are some guidelines covering what to do and what to say to help you resign in a professional manner.

  • Timing

    Resignation needs a lot of careful thought and preparation. If it is handled in the right way it will demonstrate a positive and mature personal approach to your decision. Alternatively, if you approach it inappropriately and awkwardly, negative feelings and recriminations can occur and these could affect your career in the future.

    Think about your boss and your work patterns and decide when you are going to resign, for example a Monday morning during a delivery may not be the best option. Ask to sit down in a private office and ensure you are away from the shop floor or your department.

  • Meeting

    It may be difficult to predict the outcome of such a sensitive meeting - so preparation is key. Your boss may well congratulate you - they may equally feel betrayed and you could even find yourself in a conflict situation. So expect the unexpected, plan ahead the best you can and the golden rule? Remain professional at all times. Here are some more points to help you prepare for your meeting:-

    • Plan what you are going to say and stick to it, be firm yet polite, you have not made this decision without serious consideration; if you walk into the office to resign and you leave agreeing to stay you will in most cases have eroded the respect that your boss had in you anyway.
    • Retain your composure at all times and ensure that you can articulate why you are leaving, focusing on the positives of your career move. You will not gain anything by using the meeting to dwell on negatives. Remember that you may need a reference from your boss and there could be a time in the future when you meet again. So always be professional and try to set aside your emotions - that way you will remain focused on resigning rather than on justifying your decision.
    • The meeting does not have to be lengthy and although you will no doubt be questioned about your reasons for leaving, you do not have to offer detailed reasons. Remember what you have decided to say - and don't deviate from your intentions.
    • Ensure that you have thought through the notice period you are prepared to give, stress that you will provide a detailed handover and where possible, reduce your notice period to an agreed timescale.
    • Be prepared for a counter offer and when it comes, be ready to reinforce the fact that you would like them to respect your decision.
    • Leave the meeting on a positive and amicable note with an agreement for your leaving date.
  • Managing a Counter Offer

    Once upon a time, you handed in your notice and looked forward to your leaving party - but it's not quite that simple anymore. Today when you resign, you can expect a counter offer - but beware, after the initial flattery and extra cash have lost their appeal, you may still be left feeling exactly as you did when you started looking for a new job.

    Furthermore, a counter offer that improves your financial package can simply mean that you receive your standard pay rise early - so it could lead to disappointment later in the year. Plus, once you have handed in your resignation, your loyalty and commitment may be called into question, and as a consequence, you may find yourself being passed over for promotion. So, accepting a counter offer can seriously damage your job prospects too, and even when the counter offer includes the promise of promotion, it may still never materialise - and unless you have it in writing, you will be left high and dry.

    The facts speak for themselves. A counter offer is often the most cost-effective and productive solution to your resignation. Persuading you to stay may be cheaper than recruiting your replacement - so for your company, it's not about you - it's sound economics.

    And if you find yourself being tempted, remember this: national statistics show that 89% of all employees who accept a counter offer leave within the next 6 months.

    So if you receive a counter offer, don't be surprised - but don't be fooled either.

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