When you’ve made the decision to leave your current place of employment – for a similar position elsewhere, because you feel it’s time for a career change, or because you are feeling ready to retire – it’s helpful to have a strategy for making your exit as smooth as possible. Here are some tips to follow to help reduce the inevitable stress involved in such a move.
- Know Your Reasons – Identify your reasons for leaving the company. Any issues that you have with your current employer should be presented before you go out to look at other opportunities or consider offers. Never threaten to leave your job by touting another offer if you haven’t first given your employer the opportunity to address your pain point(s). Ultimatums are a terrible way to negotiate.
- Be True to Yourself – Commit and be comfortable with your commitment. Remember that accepting another position, you make a commitment. This commitment and following through with it is a huge part of making a smooth transition. If you have doubts on following through with the commitment especially (wouldn’t a counter offer make it more difficult, not less, to leave?) in the face of a possible counteroffer, then reassess exactly why you are considering leaving your current employer. Don’t make a move based solely on compensation. If compensation is the only driving factor you should have already discussed this with your employer and come to a solution. If your expectations weren’t met then your employer has already made it clear that you are not worth to them what you think you are. This should be a resounding message to pack your bags and leave! If you were not worth it then, why now when you are resigning are they having a change of heart. It is likely that a counter offer for them is a stop gap until they can find someone else cheaper to do the job.
- Have Your Resignation Letter in Hand – When resigning, already have a resignation letter typed and signed to turn in with your verbal resignation. Your verbal resignation should summarize what’s written down.
- Keep the Transition Period Short – Try to keep your exit date as close to the professional courtesy period of two weeks as possible. In any case, do not extend it out further than a month. Doing so will give your current company more time to court you to stay. Furthermore, things could change with your new employer that could affect your trajectory or, even worse, your employment.
- Role Play the Exit Scenarios – Anticipate which of the three likely outcomes will apply to you when you resign, and be mentally prepared for each one. Sometimes they will overlap. Play out each scenario in your mind even if you do not expect it to help you cope better with the change. Be prepared for one or a combination of these three likely outcomes:
- “We have loved having you as an employee and if there is anything that we can do to support your transition, please let us know.” (This is of course the best outcome)
- “Get your stuff and get out now.” (This is probably the worst outcome.)
- “What can we do to get you to stay?” (While not as bad as above, this outcome is usually undesirable as well, because it can lead to second guessing the decision to leave and breaking the commitment made to the new employer.
- Practice Your Exit Monologue – Keep it short and to the point. Don’t get dragged into the details. Sharing details in your explanation or resignation letter gives your current employer areas to address to try to get you to stay. The less details you share the less they have to work with in convincing you to stay. Trust me, it will make your transition much smoother. It is imperative to say that you have made a commitment to the move and there isn’t anything that could sway you from that commitment.
- Maintain A Social Distance – Social distance from your boss or other executive management until you have started with your employer. No need to have dinner or grab a drink after work or coffee on the weekend. These actions may put you in the position of having to defend your decision.
- Stay in Frequent Contact With Your New Employer – Stay in touch with your new company no less than once a week. Check to see if there is any pre-employment screening or paperwork that you can do. Ask if there are any plans or project information with which you can familiarize yourself to help you get started on the right foot.
Taylor Maurer runs the talent acquisition firm HCRC as senior managing partner. He is a professional heavy civil construction recruiter dedicated to attracting and retaining high quality talent.