How to resign when changing jobs
Whether you are a recruiter, employee or a director of a company one of the most overlooked parts of the career advancement process is resigning. When the initial victorious fist clenching, celebratory hugs and the general excitement of landing your dream job has passed, the candidate and his or her agent must now navigate the potentially rocky post offer road to arrive safely in the new job on the first day.
This can be a nervy time for the headhunter who has just sealed the deal as they worry that the candidate may get cold feet, or be tempted by a counter-offer causing the placement to fall through. It can also be a tense time for the candidate who may be feeling apprehensive about the thought of approaching their boss to resign, having to work out the notice period which can sometimes be awkward, and/or entering a brave new world of employment elsewhere.
Written offer in place
The golden rule for resigning to take up post in a new job is not to resign until you have a written job offer in your hand, which includes a start date, base salary and all the pertinent benefits and perks. A verbal offer is not enough; you want to be totally sure of commitment from the employer – and that all the correct internal hiring approval procedures have been executed. Please bear in mind that this commitment works both ways; how would you feel when as you are packing that last box with family photographs and other treasured belongings the phone rings and it’s the company who offered you saying they changed their mind and want to hire somebody else? Yes, that would be outrageous so please do not do it to them.
Where possible, try and consider factors such as bonus payment, holidays owed and share options as your entitlement to these benefits can be affected by the day on which you resign. For example, resigning a week later could mean that you have accrued enough service to be eligible for a bonus payment whereas a week earlier could mean you lose your entitlement. Check all the terms and conditions that relate to your benefits vary carefully.
Breaking the news…
Your current contract may stipulate the resignation process and it is likely a specific period of notice has to be given, this can range from days to a year dependent on your role and most often you have to notify your employer in writing. In practice, it is courteous to arrange a meeting with your manager and verbally resign and then hand them a resignation letter then and there, or follow up afterwards.
Honour your notice period, but try to negotiate a shorter one if you wish. Remember, you could be owed holidays.
It is vital that you honour your notice period and try not to be tempted to break it by your new employer. However, there is nothing wrong with asking if you can finish before the end of your notice period. Some employers would rather get the whole thing over with as quick as possible, even letting you go straight away and paying your notice period.
Be prepared for a counter-offer
If your current employer does not want you to leave then you may find that they’ll offer you a higher salary to get you to stay. Ask yourself why they did not offer 6 monthly reviews and increase your salary before.
But, if your reason for leaving was not money orientated, then accepting a money based counter-offer may be unwise as once the initial excitement of the higher salary wears off you will be faced with the same problems which caused you to want to leave in the first place. Once again, why didn’t your existing employer promote you or offer other benefits before? Do you really think they will change their attitude or is this just a knee-jerk reaction in an attempt not to lose you?
Also, consider that if you resign and then return on a counter-offer the way that you are perceived by your boss and team members could change and you could be perceived as disloyal/unstable. Your manager could feel some animosity as he/she could feel that they had no option to make you a counter-offer which could affect the way they treat you.
You should be aware that it is especially bad form to accept a counter-offer after you have formally accepted a post with a new employer. If you have signed a contract, then you will be in breach of contract with the new employer, but they probably won’t pursue it. But, you will get a bad reputation with your recruiter/headhunter and may burn your bridges with the employer who you may want to work with in the future.
If you do receive a counter-offer, I urge you to consider these points but, in my experience accepting a counter-offer is always a mistake. Try asking if your current employer would take you back in 6-months if you realise you have made a terrible mistake-what do you think they would say??
Finally, your current employer should be a source of referees and business connections for the future and good employers accept great employees will leave in order to progress. So, approach your most trusted colleagues and managers and ask if they will act as a referee. Reach out and make LinkedIn connections with colleagues before you leave while you are still familiar with them AND…stay in touch with the headhunter who helped you land that great job-they can help you build your team and keep you apprised of opportunities for the future.