Opinion
Mark Freebairn 8 Feb 2017 10:30am

Career clinic: how to resign on good terms

Mark Freebairn says that when it comes to resigning, you don’t have to die a little every time you say goodbye

There are several things to think about when it comes to resigning. The first is that the world is a small place. However frustrated you may be, the people who receive your resignation may be NEDs of a business you apply to in a decade. In my experience resignations go through phases.

Response will range from disbelief, to anger, to sadness. In some instances it will be received with pleasure – this is double-edged. It may be that your employer knows they can’t fulfil your ambitions. It may be that you are no longer regarded as highly as you were and have saved them a series of challenging conversations.

You need to be fair and decent with your soon to be former employer, but you need to show you have transferred your allegiance to your future and soon to be employer. There are a number of issues that will cause some stress, but one of the most obvious is start date.

In that first moment after your resignation the sense of a personal rejection is strong. When talking about start dates a common response is “you can work your notice period”.

Of course this is, in almost all cases, unlikely. As situations calm down, so conversations about start dates will become more realistic. But that can take a couple of weeks. Explain to your new boss before resignation that your boss will go in to shock and that you will be able to manage them best if you give them 10 days to calm down. Set out the worst case scenario (full notice) and explain that if you give your boss time to calm down you are sure you will do better than that.

And then there is the buy-back. First – don’t resign assuming they will try to buy you back. Second – only resign if you have a role that you are happy to be moving to. That way you can’t lose.

When it comes to the buy-back, ask yourself the following question: Are the fundamental issues you were frustrated by all changing? Money won’t be one of those – however much they tell you it is. Doing the same job you didn’t want to do, for the same person you no longer want to work for, for 8% more than yesterday may fulfil you for six months but rarely longer. And that’s not enough.

Resigning is hard. Clarity of thought, certainty of decision and intelligent people management will help you sail through the process.


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