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Moving On: The DO’s & DON’Ts of Resigning
January 14, 2014
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There will undoubtedly come a time in your career when you feel it’s time to move on. It can be a difficult decision to make. Even if you dislike your job and pretty much everything about it, resigning can still be difficult to pull off tactfully, especially if you are about to be fired. But as with anything else you do in life, do it with class and it will have a positive lasting impression.

Here are some DOs & DON’Ts when tendering your resignation:

DO Give Two Weeks Notice

Unless the situation is just untenable, giving two weeks notice is standard practice. If you want to leave sooner, it’s appropriate to ask if you can do so.

“A business can’t afford to be strapped or taken by surprise,” said Jessica Ollenburg, president of Human Resource Services, Inc. “But they also don’t want employees who have already resigned to stay around with a detrimental attitude.”

That being said, it’s important to know that if your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks you are under no obligation to stay. But to smooth things over…

DO Offer to Help

Make yourself available to the degree that it doesn’t interfere with your new gig. Offer to help during the transition period and afterwards.

“It’s hard to give a lot of notice because your next employer may be waiting anxiously for you to start, and many people want to take a week off between jobs,” says Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach.

However, she urges departing workers to spend “as much time as you can with your replacement or colleagues who will be temporarily handling your workload. Train them so they’ve got it down cold.” Though your offer may not be accepted, your previous employer will definitely appreciate the gesture.

DO Write a Resignation Letter

It’s a good idea to write a formal resignation letter for your own employment file. Just keep it simple. You don’t really need to say much more than you’re leaving and when your last day of work will be. There are also a number of different types of resignation letters for just about every scenario you can imagine – from formal, to heartfelt, to relocation, returning back to school – you name it. So do a bit of research and find the type of letter that best suits your situation.

DON’T Be Negative

“I’m pretty sure that working here was one of Dante’s Nine Circles!” That’s an example of what not to do. When you’re talking about leaving the company with co-workers, always try to emphasize the positives, and talk about how the work experience was a valuable experience. Your time there benefited you even though it’s time to move on. There is zero reason to be negative (at least, out loud). You want to leave on good terms. You never know who knows who. Or who will turn up later in your career.

DON’T Brag About Your New Job

This actually goes hand-in-hand with not being negative. Even if you just got the best job in the history of the world (whatever that might be in your world), don’t brag about it. What would be the point in making your soon-to-be former co-workers not only feel bad about you leaving, but also lament their own current employment? There isn’t, really, other than to be a bit spiteful. Remember, your personal branding is what’s at stake here. The latter is defined as what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Let class be what helps define you.

DON’T Forget to Say Farewell

Take a quick moment to send a farewell message to co-workers and let them know that you are moving on. You can include contact information to stay in touch. Also send more personalized emails or messages to individuals via LinkedIn, rather than group messages to those you really want to stay in contact with.

It’s always prudent to handle your resignation with as much care as you would handle any other business endeavor. Don’t burn bridges because you never know when you will need your past employers for a reference. Resigning gracefully can go a long way in strengthening your personal branding. People who you work with now will cross your path again — as co-worker, employers, or even clients. In your current move, whether you’re moving up or moving on, keep your eye on the long game.