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chapter 33

Someday, you may find yourself in a situation where it is in your best interests to resign from your current position. Despite you doing proper due diligence beforehand, jobs do not always turn out as you anticipated. Supervisors may place inappropriate demands and stress on you. False promises may have been made to entice you to take the job. Or, the job and the organization’s culture may be a poor fit for what you want.
It is usually not a good idea to quit your job within the first six months unless your organization is engaged in something that is illegal or totally unethical. Attempt to work things out with your supervisor or see if it is possible to arrange a transfer to a more suitable position. During this six-month time period, you can also be discreetly investigating job opportunities at other organization.
When it comes time to make a decision, act both decisively and professionally. Do not let yourself get paralyzed into delaying too long. As A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, said: “Life is full of twists and turns. It’s important to accept them. Learn from all life’s experiences and move on.”
Here are some recommendations for managing your resignation professionally for the best outcome:
  • Do not beat yourself up if you made the wrong job decision. It is not an uncommon situation.
  • When it becomes obvious that you need to leave your job and employer, make every effort to find another more suitable position before you do so. You are much better off waiting to quit your existing job until you have obtained a firm offer for a new position elsewhere.
  • Do not use your organization’s e-mail or instant messaging systems for sending any job-search related messages or for preparing your résumé. Similarly, do not use your office computer to look up job-search websites or do Internet research about other employers. As much as possible, conduct your job search from your home in the evenings and weekends.
  • If you post your résumé on a job-search website while you are still employed, do not disclose your identity except to the operator. Also, in your résumé, list your current employer with a generic description as opposed to using its actual name.
  • Do not discuss your thoughts about quitting your job or being unhappy about your supervisor with any of your work colleagues. You cannot count on them treating this information in a confidential manner.
Give your resignation in the following manner:
  • Your supervisor should be the first person you advise about your decision to resign. Do so in a face-to-face meeting and never via an e-mail or voice-mail message.
  • Think about the script you should follow in telling your supervisor about your decision to resign. At the start of the meeting, say, “I’m sorry to have to advise you that I will be leaving my job here. I have an exciting opportunity for another position that better suits my career objectives [or where I can learn valuable new skills].”
  • Do not burn your bridges by saying anything negative about your job, supervisor or the organization. Regardless of your experience, express your appreciation for having had an opportunity to work there and thank your supervisor for his or her support. Never get into an emotional argument or debate.
  • Whatever you do, do not say or do anything that runs the risk of alienating or upsetting your supervisor. You never know when you may end up working together again. Even if you do not give your supervisor as a reference, there is a high probability that a prospective employer may contact your supervisor at some time in the future to inquire about your job performance.
  • Consider bringing a formal letter of resignation to the meeting to indicate that you are serious about your decision.
  • Offer to continue in your position for another two weeks so that you can help train your successor and complete any outstanding work assignments. It is usually not a good idea to agree to stay on for a longer period.
  • Do not threaten to resign as a means of improving your job responsibilities or compensation. Even if your supervisor gives in to your demands, it is inevitable that your supervisor will resent your manipulative behavior.
  • Adhere to your resignation decision once you have made it. Sometimes, your supervisor will make a counteroffer to try to convince you to withdraw your resignation. In 90% of the cases, it is a bad decision to let such a counteroffer change your mind.
  • If you have an exit interview, again keep your comments positive and constructive. Remember that the results of this interview will likely be shared with others in the organization.
Following your official resignation, make a point of thanking those individuals within your department and elsewhere in the organization who had provided you with good support in your work. Do this in person. If you are unable to do so, send these individuals a hand-written note of appreciation.
After you have left the organization, resist the temptation to say anything negative about your former employer, supervisor or work colleagues. If you are asked by anyone about them, say, “It was a great work experience. I learned a lot and met many interesting people there.” This also applies to job interviews.


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