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Hot, new job? Resign gracefully

By Sunder Ramachandran
Last updated on: June 22, 2006 11:58 IST
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We helped you identify 6 good reasons for a job switch. Then we outlined top strategies to help kickstart your job hunt.

Now you have reason to celebrate -- you have found a new job!
illustrationHowever, before popping the champagne, you have some unfinished business.

You must resign, serve the notice period and make a smooth transition.

Don't brush it off. The way you quit is just as important to your career as your hot, new job.

Play your cards right

Don't start discussing your resignation with your colleagues and friends. Your boss MUST be the first to know.

Or else, the gossip factory will make sure that your boss gets to know and you will end up spoiling your relationship with him/her. 

So how you tell the boss about your decision? Certainly not be fax or email. Your must hand over your resignation in person.

Set up an appointment to discuss the resignation and carry an official letter of resignation to the meeting.

Writing the resignation letter

This document is a whole lot more than just a professional requirement; it is often stored by the human resource department. If you need a professional reference or plan to join the company back later, your letter can be a decisive factor.

1. Make sure it looks good

Use good quality paper and ink (if you are handwriting it) and limit it to about 200-250 words. Mention your name and department at the bottom along with your signature.

2. Be specific

In the first couple of lines, make it clear that you are resigning. Don't beat around the bush or threaten. A letter is not a negotiation tool.

3. Say something nice

Be sure to appreciate your boss and colleagues (even if you love the fact that you are leaving them). You never know:  they may want to hire you back someday, at a better salary and responsibility.

4. Highlight your accomplishments

Say something like: "I thoroughly enjoyed implementing XYZ project or selling the company's product or services". Remind them of your achievements without sounding too self-centered.

5. Mention a specific date of departure

If you are leaving for further studies, it is safe to mention that. But, if leaving for another job, do not mention the name of your new employer.

When done, proofread it for errors.

The inevitable notice period

NEVER quit a day before you plan to join a new organisation. The normal corporate standard is about two to three weeks. Do adhere to this standard no matter how informal the culture is in your organisation or no matter how obvious your exit is. It is considered very unprofessional to leave on impulse and the word will spread around and will haunt you even in your new job.

If your employment contract is such that you have to serve a longer notice period like 45 days to three months and you can't stay too long, here is what you can do. 

  • See if your new employer is willing to buy out the notice period ie compensate monetarily for what you may have to pay to your current organisation for not serving the long notice. 
  • If you have some leave, then speak to the human resource team and get it adjusted against your notice period. 
  • Negotiate with your boss if you can work over the weekends to finish that pending assignment so that you are able to leave faster.

When serving your notice period, don't absolve yourself of all responsibility. Finish all pending work and duties assigned. Be diligent.

And, don't steal any data or information. Never handicap the organisation or your department in any way. Don't sabotage or delete any documents.

Make sure that you are not taking any vital data with you. This is indeed a stupid move to make. Leave the organisation with some dignity and don't play it cheap.

If you have to train your replacement, then do it with full sincerity. What you do in your final days will have some bearing on your career. For instance, you may come across the same person sometime in the future. So you better make them comfortable and ensure that they have a smooth transition.
A practical tip: Make sure that you clean up your desk. Shred all the unwanted documents and files and handover the rest to your replacement or boss.

Leaving your desk untidy is disrespectful and will leave a sour taste within the organisation. You want people to miss you behind your back and not curse you for the mess that you have left behind.

The exit interview
Many companies conduct exit interviews which are used to gain clues about employee satisfaction and to improve retention.

They may even make you a counter offer as a last attempt to make you stay. Here is what you must know about exit interviews.

  • It is NOT an outlet to vent your frustration about the boss, company policies, or the inadequate salary. If you had a bad experience, forget it and move on.
  • Never negotiate during an exit interview or otherwise your resignation will come across as just a gimmick to gain a salary raise or promotion.
  • Keep the discussion non-controversial and stick to facts. Make sure that you do not have any emotional outbursts. 
  • Do offer some suggestions and feedback on how the organisation can become more competitive and improve its products/services.

It's time to say goodbye!

Once people learn about your resignation in the organisation, they will all be curious to know 'why' and will want to sympathise with you. It is crucial to keep your mouth shut after you have called it quits.

Don't trust anybody with important or negative information. The business cliché, 'Loose lips sink ships' holds true.

Be graceful and relax while other people do the talking. 

After serving your notice period, thank EVERYONE and make a positive exit.

Part I6 good reasons for a job switch

Part IIJob hunting? Top strategies

Part IVNew job? Make the right impression

Have you resigned before? If yes, how did you go about it? Share your experiences, tips and suggestions.

Sunder works as a trainer with a leading global BPO.


Job-hunting? Scout here

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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Sunder Ramachandran