Be Sure to Professionally Depart When Leaving

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Employed But Looking

It is the moment that most Job Seekers look forward to and perhaps even fantasize about…resigning from a company. For many, a long and challenging job search has finally resulted in landing that coveted new position. So, why does having to resign and depart prove to be difficult, at times, to do well?

The difficulty could be due to a variety of reasons, such as emotions clouding judgment, or a reluctance to face the possible confrontation that may occur. Whatever the reason, there is a proper and professional way to resign and depart from a company. Let’s take a look at some of the steps that need to be taken and how they should be handled.

• Communicate Directly to Your Manager – A resignation should be done in-person and if that is not possible due to a remote reporting relationship, then a phone call needs to be made. Your resignation is not a message to be delivered in a note slipped under an office door, or written in an e-mail sent during non-work hours. Your resignation may bring a variety of emotions from your Manager, but unless you are concerned for your safety (and if that would be the case, you probably would not still be there anyway), then a conversation should be held. You will be most likely asked afterwards to place your resignation in writing. Keep this written note short by stating your departure and thanking the company for the opportunity that was provided.

• Give Notice – There is no standard notice requirement, but there are general guidelines that are traditionally followed. If you are working an entry-level hourly type of role, then a one-week notice is expected. If you are working a more professional role, then it is expected that you provide a two-week notice period. If you are senior leader, then you may be expected to give more time, up to one month. If you have an adversarial type relationship with your current employer and/or Manager, you may be tempted to flee without notice. I always recommend taking the high road in these type of situations and still offer notice.

• Follow Instructions on Communication – Discuss with your Manager when you can communicate to others your resignation. Please respect the potential desire of your Manager to deliver the message to co-workers, etc. This may allow your Manager to communicate a reassuring message that your position will be filled and, perhaps, even give him/her a chance to say nice things about you. Ask first, prior to sending out a message on your departure//last day. In most situations, it will be OK, but some companies have strict policies regarding non-work related messages and you do not want to leave on a non-positive note. Be sure (in your communications) to thank all your co-workers that you worked closely with, either in day-to-day work or on projects. After you depart, you can follow-up via social media to connect with your previous co-workers in order to expand your network.

• Refrain From Anything Negative – As mentioned earlier, my recommendation is to always take the high road. You will most likely be asked by people about where you are going to and why you are leaving. If you are leaving for a competitor, I suggest you politely explain to the inquirer that you can’t disclose yet where you are going (this is especially true if you are going into a position with your new employer that currently has an incumbent). I also suggest you offer a relatively benign reason for departing if you feel you must communicate a reason. Let people know how much you will miss working for company “x”, and that you are leaving for a great opportunity. If true, you can message that you were not “looking” at the time, but were either contacted or stumbled on to this position. The key is that you do not want to leave on a sour note, as you may need a reference later, or even wish to be rehired for the right opportunity.

• Work Until the End – It can be tempting to view your notice period as a “quasi vacation”. In other words, you are still working and being paid, but don’t have to do much since you are leaving. My opinion is just the opposite, in that some of the longest/hardest days I have ever worked have been during my notice. Try to wrap up whatever projects or open items you can during your notice period. You can offer your Manager your full support in training anyone backfilling you.

• Decide on the Exit Interview – This is an area that I usually upset my HR colleagues. I personally don’t see much value in a departing employee providing anything more than a generic exit interview. You need to determine for yourself how open you will be in your feedback and suggestions during your exit interview. Departing your current company is just as important as any other step in your job search process. The goal should be to leave in a professional manner out of respect to your employer and co-workers. By doing this, you also place yourself in a good position for a future reference and even a potential rehire.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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