People spend most of their time and effort in seeking and acquiring a new job, but spare little thought to leaving a current job. But when it comes to resigning, does it really matter how you do it?
Below are ‘do’s and don’ts’ to avoid burning your bridges, before and after you hand in your letter of resignation.
Do prepare to resign:
So there’s no question about what belongs to you or the company, compile your portfolio, take personal property home, and remove personal files and software from your computer before you resign.
Do give ample and proper resignation notice:
Check your company’s policy manual to be sure. If you don’t follow company policy, not only might you burn bridges, but you might also deprive yourself of termination benefits, such as pay for unused vacation.
Do offer to help:
Consider offering to
- Assist in finding and interviewing your replacement
- Help out until your replacement is on board
- Break in your replacement
Do ask for recommendation letters:
If they’re not too ticked off that you quit, ask bosses, coworkers and direct reports for recommendation (reference) letters, while they can still recall your finer points.
Do say good-bye:
Take the time to talk with each of your bosses, coworkers and direct-reports. Express your appreciation and say that you’ll miss working with them.
Don’t jump the gun:
Never submit your resignation letter until after you have a solid job offer in writing.
Don’t display a short-timer’s attitude:
Make sure your work area and projects are in order and try to clear up unfinished business.
Don’t consort with the boat rockers:
Some of your discontented coworkers might prod you to criticize the company, bosses or other coworkers, but you never know who you can truly trust in the backstabbing corporate world, who your next boss might be or who is eavesdropping just around the corner in the cubicle maze.
Don’t take the bait:
Your management or HR department might ask you for "constructive criticism" during your exit interview. Never criticize the company or its employees. If they ask why you’re resigning, make simple, noncommittal statements such as, “It’s a career move.”
Don’t accept a counter-offer:
Despite how flattering it might be, many career advisors agree that it’s not a good idea to accept a counteroffer. Once you’ve made it perfectly clear that you want to jump ship, your loyalty will be in question.
Your employer might be making a counter-offer only to take advantage of you until they find a ‘more dedicated’ or cheaper replacement.
Don’t feel guilty:
Employees quit all the time. No matter how guilty they try to make you feel, the company will survive without you. If you feel a guilt trip coming on, think about how the company would likely have axed you in a heartbeat without an ounce of guilt, if it was to its advantage.
Don’t take anything the company owns:
In addition to proprietary information, this includes simple things like pens, calculators, manuals, CD ROMS, and other company-owned things you might carry in your briefcase to do your job.
About the Author
Mike Zhang is Manager, HR and Financial Services, at Robert Walters Shanghai.