Resigning Your Job – With Grace & Dignity (Part 1/2)
By Adrian Choo, The Career Strategist
You’ve decided to join the new company and have signed the Offer Letter.
Some thoughts will now run through your mind. “What do I do next? How do I inform my boss and how will he react?”
These are all valid questions at the “Offer/Acceptance” stage. The anxiety is heightened for those who have not switched jobs much in their career, or have been in their company for a very long time.
Here are some tips I would suggest you consider before signing on the dotted line.
1. Make up your mind before you sign the letter of offer.
Many candidates get infatuated with the attention the prospective employers have been shining on them, or get so distracted by the hefty increase in salary that they get carried away and accept the letter of offer without fully appreciating the ramifications of their action.
I have seen many candidates sign the letter of offer, then get cold feet when (a) their spouse gets upset at ‘the dumbest idea of their life’, (b) their boss begs or threatens them when they break the news, or (c) the organization makes a counter-offer that is too good to refuse (more on this topic later). They then have to renege on the new offer, disappointing everyone in the process.
2. Think about all aspects of this move clearly before accepting the offer.
Have you spoken to your spouse about it? Do you have his/her buy-in? I once had a candidate whose husband refused to let her sign the offer letter because she would be earning more money than him.
Having the blessings of your spouse (or at the very least, not being vetoed by him/her should be good enough) is very important because he/she is your partner in all this and it would be difficult to make such a major move without their support.
More importantly, you need to understand that family life often more important as work-life and you should never jeopardize it.
Have you thought long and hard about the new role, the new organization and the opportunities? How about the new commitments you would need to make (eg, longer work hours, more regional travel, increased responsibility and work stress, etc)? Are you prepared for this?
Once you have resolved all these mental hurdles and are certain that this is a right move, go ahead and sign the offer letter, without regrets or doubts.
3. Breaking the bad news to your Boss
There are two outcomes arising from this. Your boss will either take it well or badly, especially if this comes as a total surprise to him.
I have met great bosses who have congratulated their staff on landing better jobs with richer career prospects.
But I have also met bosses who swing to the other extreme and make things difficult for staff who leave. Some take such departures very personally, as an affront to their leadership style and feel rejected, whilst others may need you to continue driving sales or closing deals for them and are unhappy that their targets will not be met without you around.
When you are breaking the news of your resignation to your boss, remember, the singular objective of the meeting is to notify your boss that you are tendering your resignation – you are neither asking his permission nor justifying for reasons for leaving.
You may be probed for your reasons for resigning, but you are not obliged to elaborate. You are also not obliged to tell him which company you are joining, or what role you are moving into, or how much more the new job will pay you.
Just let him know you are leaving the company and when your last working day will be. That’s all.
Keep it professional. Highlight to him your planned timeline for handing over your current responsibilities to your colleagues.
Never burn bridges, even if you are tempted to sneak him a ‘serves you right for treating me bad’ look – you might work with him again soon or be required to furnish him as a ‘Character Referee’ several jobs down the road.