You have just cleared the hurdles and obstacles of the interview process, and have secured the offer that you were hoping for. Just as you breathe a sigh of relief because the interview process is all over, you realize that you have to face what could be the toughest part of the interview process - your resignation. If you truly hate your current job and despise your current boss, resigning should be easy. But, if you have been with your company for some time, you may now be feeling a sense of loyalty. Or, you may be friends with your boss, and now dread having to tell a friend that you quit.
I understand these feelings and fears that arise at the resignation stage. I, too, went through the emotional roller coaster of the resignation process. Before I got into my current field, I worked with a large wholesale corporation in sales and marketing. I outgrew the organization, and realized that I had to execute a change, in order to satisfy my growth needs. I had already told my boss about my goals, and she admitted that I would not be able to achieve them in that organization - they were just too limited in the areas I was seeking to grow into. The company I worked for could no longer meet my personal career goals, nor could I achieve the long-term earnings I desired. So, when I found the job I really wanted, I aggressively pursued it, right down to the offer stage. I was ecstatic about the new opportunity that awaited me. After signing the contract with the new company, I drove back to my office to resign. I realized that I was actually afraid of tendering my resignation! After all, I did not dislike my company, I really liked my boss, and I had a great deal of respect for the CEO. Everything I knew in business, these people had taught me. The president had personally mentored me, and he even attended my wedding. I knew that my resignation would be a shock, and that their feelings would be hurt. For a fleeting moment, I actually considered changing my mind.
Thankfully, I thought through my whole interview process, and reminded myself why I was leaving. My departure was nothing personal, and the saying; "business is business" came to mind. I decided to take the evening to properly prepare a professional resignation. I prepared a resignation letter, and rehearsed my resignation. I knew exactly what I was going to say, and I was mentally prepared to stand firm on my decision. I realized that my boss was going to counteroffer me, or try to guilt me into changing my mind.
The next morning, I went to my boss and began my resignation. My hands were sweaty, and my voice was actually shaky. I handed her my resignation letter. While she was reading the letter, I ran my rehearsal through my mind again. She put down the letter and said, "Do you really want to do this? I can't stand the thought of losing you, now." I stood my ground, and did not falter on my resignation. Throughout the day, I received multiple calls from the corporate office, all of them attempts to get me to change my mind. The day culminated with the CEO calling me to express his sadness, and to extend a hefty counter offer. I knew that counter offers were short-term fixes, and I was not interested in a short-term fix. I declined his counter offer with empathy and professionalism. At that point, it was done - I had officially resigned.
That night, my boss called me at home. She asked, "Pat, is it official? Are you really leaving?" I confirmed that my resignation was accepted, and that my mind could not be changed. What she said next floored me! She went on to say, "Now that you no longer work for me, I can tell you that your departure is timely. The company is in trouble, and we are going to have to cut commissions next quarter. I, too, am in the process of leaving, and would appreciate it if you would let me know if you hear of an opportunity for me." That day, she was doing her "company" thing, and selling me on staying. Behind the scenes, she was also leaving. The counter offers were not extended with my best interest in mind. Rather, they were done in attempt for a short-term fix - they did not want to be faced with my position being vacant. For more information on why not to accept counter offers, I read the attached article titled, "Counteroffer Acceptance - Road to Career Ruin" by Paul Hawkinson. reprinted from the 4/19/98 issue of National Business Employment Weekly, published by the Wall Street Journal. http://www.careerjournal.com/salaries/negotiate/19980421-hawkinson.html
My own experience helps me to advise my candidates who have just accepted positions with my clients to tender their resignations. My first piece of advice is to prepare for your resignation. Don't just blurt it out. Instead, the day you receive your verbal offer, begin to prepare for your resignation. Get your resignation letter written, and rehearse what you are going to say. However, do not tender the resignation until you have your written offer from the new company. By preparing your resignation ahead of time, you are ready to resign on the day you have your new offer.
To prepare for your resignation, first read the attached article on counteroffers. You need to be prepared for the counteroffer, before you walk into your resignation meeting. I remain convinced that counteroffers are short term fixes and are not in your best interest. I have spoken with candidates who have accepted counteroffers. I have yet to contact someone who accepted a counteroffer and find them happy six months later. The majority of counteroffers I have seen accepted have resulted in the person still leaving in less than six months.
Prepare your resignation letter. I believe the resignation letter needs to be written with a firm tone - it needs to give the reader a sense of finality. Here is a sample resignation letter:
Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation. I appreciate the professional experiences we have had together at XYZ. However, I have now made a commitment to another organization and will be starting with them in two weeks.
It is my intention to work as much as possible over the next two weeks to make my resignation as smooth as possible. I want to leave on a positive note, and insure that my current business is transitioned to you.
Please do not take my departure personally. An opportunity is in front of me that I am excited about, and I have already given them my commitment. My decision is made, and I hope that you can be happy for me.
Rehearse your resignation, so that when you give it, you sound firm and unfaltering. Stand firm on your resolve to leave; remind yourself why you made the decision to leave, and what the new job is offering you. Know that your boss is programmed to instantly counter offer you, or to try and guilt you into staying. Rehearsing will help you to overcome the guilt, and gracefully decline the counteroffer.
Time your resignation wisely. The best time to resign is at the end of the day, and on a Monday or Tuesday. The end of the day timing is for your benefit. Resigning at 5:00 p.m. allows you to have your resignation meeting, and then allow you to distance yourself from the potential discomfort by leaving the office. If you resign in the morning, you have to look at your boss all day. But, by resigning at the day's end, you can then leave, and the night provides cooling off period. Also, it gives you all day for final preparations, in the event that your boss decides to ask you to leave upon resignation (some will appreciate the two week notice, but may ask you to leave, anyway).
Resigning on Monday or Tuesday is for your boss' benefit. First of all, resigning on a Friday will ruin his/her weekend. Also, your boss will be in a better business frame of mind on Monday, and will be able to use the whole week to begin making plans for handling your business.
What do you do if you cannot give a two-week notice? Resigning with little, or no notice is not the best way to leave. But, there are times when it is unavoidable, such as when the new company has a training class that starts in a few days, and missing it would mean months before the next training would be available. If you are faced with resigning on Friday to start a new job Monday, I recommend the following:
"Boss, I am very sorry about not being able to give a proper, two week notice. But, the position I accepted requires that I be in Chicago for training on Monday, and they didn't offer me this position until last night. If you need my help in the transition, I will be back from training in two weeks. I would be more than happy to close out my business over the weekend. If you need additional information, call me - I'll check my voice mail from Chicago and can try to squeeze in an evening call to you to help."
My departing piece of advice - don't look back! You have made your decision to accept a new job. If things were so great in the current job, you would not have been on the job market to begin with. Look forward with excitement and enthusiasm. Do not let fear of change hold your down and keep you stuck in a rut. Your current boss may get emotional, but deep down; he/she most likely knows that you are on to a better opportunity. If you handle your resignation in a manner that provides a clean break for everyone, they will remember you as a great employee and a firm decision maker. Good luck in your new career!
Pat Mingarelle is a Vice President with National Register, a national sales and marketing recruiting firm. Pat has been placing sales professionals since 1989. Questions or comments to Pat can be directed to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2001, Patrick Mingarelle