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Your Action

The first thing to consider is the timing of your resignation. Since two weeks’ notice is typical, make sure your resignation allows for these two weeks prior to your start date at the new company. Even if your new job begins in six weeks, do not give six weeks notice; wait four weeks and then give two weeks notice unless you want some time off before the new job.

Your resignation should be given in person, preferably on a Friday afternoon. Ask your direct supervisor if you can talk with him/her privately. When you announce your resignation, you should also give your supervisor a letter that shows your last date of employment with the company. Simply tell him/her that:

“Another company has offered me a superb opportunity, which I have accepted; I feel it is in my best interests. I appreciate all that you and the company have done for me. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you, and I hope to leave with your best wishes.”

Always, keep the letter simple, short, and positive.

Although you may be missed, especially by those inconvenienced by your departure, do not be swayed by guilty feelings. Avoid much discussion about the new position and why you plan to leave so that there are no negative comments and opinions from others.

If these issues are important to your old employer, they can arrange an exit interview for you. Then they can face your departure after time to absorb and reflect on the news. You do not need to justify your goals and reasons for leaving.

Keep your comments short and concise. The more you say, the more may be questioned. Also add that your decision is final, and that you would not prefer a counteroffer.

Tell your supervisor that you appreciate everything the company has done for you and that you plan to do everything you can to make your departure smooth and painless. Ask if there is anything you can do over the next two weeks, such as train your replacement.  Others remember your last impression.  You want to be thought of as a positive, helpful person in forward motion.

Make sure to provide a photocopy of the resignation letter for your company’s personnel file. This way, the circumstances concerning your resignation can be documented for future reference.

Your Employer’s Reaction

A great way to protect yourself from the inevitable mixture of emotions surrounding your resignation is to know that employers follow a predictable pattern when faced with a resignation:

  1. They are shocked.

    “You picked a fine time to leave! Who can complete the project we started?”

    The implication is that everything depends on you. However, you can reply, “If I were run over by a truck tomorrow, I know that the company would survive.”

  2. They become inquisitive.

    “Who is the new company? What is your new position? What salary did they offer you?”

    Be careful to not offer too much information or appear too enthusiastic. Otherwise, you may risk giving your current employer ammunition they can use against you later. They may say, “I’ve heard some pretty bad things about that company” or “They make everything look terrific until you actually arrive. When you get there, you can see what a sweat shop that place really is.”

  3. They make a counter offer.

    “You have been in line for a raise. I have not told you; we were getting it processed this week.”

    To this you can reply, “Where were you last week, before I announced my intention to leave?”

    Be sure you are prepared for any scenario so that you can stay focused on your eventual departure.

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