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How to Resign with Class


Most top executives agree that the days of the "gold watch for 30 years of faithful service" are gone. In fact, experience at several companies over a long period of time is considered an asset that brings a variety of experiences and perspectives to a new job. Today, changing jobs is a routine part of every growing professional career.

You are probably considering a change because your present position doesn't offer the growth environment you need. Nevertheless, your company has helped you progress professionally, and as a result, you may feel a bit uncomfortable resigning. After all, leaving a job means leaving many managers and co-workers whom you see socially, and who have been instrumental in advancing your career. What then should you expect when you tender your resignation? Undoubtedly, your company will be sorry to lose you. After all, you have contributed to their sales and profits, and are probably involved in several projects drawing on your unique talents. If you were in your boss' position, what would you be inclined to do when a valuable employee resigned?

It is a natural instinct to resist change and avoid disruption, and your present employer will be no exception. If you're doing a good job, he will want to keep you and will attempt to do so with a counter offer. Even though you have accepted a new job elsewhere, he will try to convince you that you have made a mistake. Counteroffers can be made in a variety of ways:

  • "We have plans for you that have been scheduled for implementation the first of next month. I guess it's my fault for not telling you."
  • "I want to let you in on some confidential information. There is a reorganization developing that will mean a significant promotion for you within six months."
  • "We'll match your new offer. This raise was supposed to go into effect the first of next quarter anyway, but because of your fine record, we'll start it on the first of the month."
  • "The President and Vice President want to have dinner with you tonight before you make your final decision."

A counter offer can be very flattering, sometimes causing your emotions to obscure your objective decision to leave your present employer. There is also the natural feeling of "buyer's remorse"-- that vague apprehension of change that subtly urges you to reconsider your decision. When confronted with a counter offer, ask yourself these questions:

  • I made a decision to leave because I felt another environment would better fill my career needs. If I stay, will the situation at my company really improve just because I said I was quitting?
  • If I decide to stay, will my loyalty be suspect and affect my chance for advancement in the future?
  • If my loyalty is in question, will I be an early layoff when business slows down?
  • They are offering me a raise to stay. Is it just my annual review coming early?
  • The raise they offered to keep me is above their guidelines for my job. Does that mean they are "buying time" until they can find my replacement within their regular salary bracket?
  • In the final analysis, I got this counter offer because I resigned. Will I have to threaten to quit every time I want to advance with my company in the future?

As a professional, you must make your career decisions objectively, free of the emotional pressures you are likely to feel later when being urged to reconsider. While well meaning friends, relatives and business associates will offer advice, you must depend primarily on your own judgment. After all, you are the only one who is in the position to understand all of the implications of a counter offer. Expect your company to be sorry to see you leave and to make some attempt to keep you. At best, their response should be considered flattering, but beset with numerous pitfalls you should not risk. End your relationship with your employer as professionally as you began it. Your new company will be anxious to have you start, so you should do so as soon as possible. One week's notice is often adequate; a maximum of two weeks is always sufficient.

A counter offer is really a belated affirmation of the contributions you have made to your old company. Move ahead to your new job with the goal of making yourself as valuable to your new employer as you were to the old." - from net-temps.com

<Note from JobFairy.com: Two week's notice is generally the standard (but not required by law in Colorado, as it is a right-to-work state). Check your employee handbook for the required notice, or the requirements in your employment contract, if you have one. Often, companies have a clause where if you do not give sufficient notice, you become ineligible for future employment with them on both a permanent AND contract basis. If the company is big enough, or has branches in many locations, this may be a consideration. However, especially if you are in a "sensitive" position, or are part of upper management, be prepared to be walked to the door by security immediately upon tendering your resignation. Make sure that you have any files off your PC, relevant e-mails, papers, personal effects, books, or any other items to which you are entitled removed from your work area prior to handing in your resignation letter. Also, ensure that your right to re-join the company at a later date is not jeopardized - you may want to ensure that if you are made to leave the company before your two-week period is over, that the employer signs some sort of waiver to the effect that they did not require you to stay the remainder of that time. It is best to leave as many options open as possible.>

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· How to Resign with Class
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