Leaving in style

Getting a new job may be cause for rejoicing, says Adeline Iziren, award winning journalist, but be careful how you handle your resignation – and not just for your boss’s sake

You’ve just been offered a great new job. Congratulations! Naturally you’re fired up about starting the new one, but make sure you leave the old one in style. As John Courtis, author of Getting a Better Job explains: “Always leave a job in such a way that it enhances your reputation. This means quietly, graciously and where required generously. “

Show generosity by sending friendly thank you notes to bosses and colleagues who have contributed to your growth and development. Notes also provide an opportunity to subtly remind people of the contribution you have made to the company. Also get telephone numbers and email addresses of your colleagues, if you don’t have them already. These steps are great ways to build bridges in the weeks leading up to your departure. After all, old colleagues and bosses could end up as new clients or new bosses sooner or later.

Being nice may prove to be a challenge if your colleagues and bosses are a nightmare to work with. But even if they are, they’re bound to have been helpful at least once in the past and it would be to your detriment to turn around and tell them what you think, rather than show some appreciation. “One day you may need a reference from the people you want to insult,” remarks John. “Worse in the future, when the firm is unrecognisable and under new ownership, you may even find yourself applying to one of these people for a job.”

It goes without saying that you should work hard after you’ve handed in your notice. “Perform like there is no tomorrow,” advises John. “This will help people to remember you favourably and within yourself you will know that you have done everything right. What’s more, once you have left you will be able to ask for references without embarrassment.”

If you leave on a positive note and you’re new job doesn’t work out you’re likely to be welcomed back with open arms. This is what IT professional Ahad Surooprajally found after he left his job in the heart of London for one nearer his home in Surrey. “If he hadn’t made an effort after he handed in his resignation letter, we wouldn’t have given him back his old job,” says Toni Castle, Human Resources Director for international PR Firm Lewis. “He put in extra effort to get the work done, even working out of hours on some occasions.”

Ahad returned to his job as an IT executive six months after he left and soon after was promoted to IT manager. The fact that he kept in touch when he left also made it easy for him to return.

“He used to come to our pub nights and we used to say how good it was when he was around. It wasn’t long before we said that we wanted him back and he agreed to return.”

Before announcing your departure, have a pre-resignation chat with your boss, to air any grievances, albeit in a positive manner. This way your boss will at least have the opportunity to meet your needs or take on board some of your grievances. If it’s more money you want, your boss may just give you the opportunity to ‘name your price’, as ITN did earlier this month, amid rumours that the BBC were hoping to poach Sir Trevor McDonald for their new 10 O’ Clock news programme. But don’t expect the £2.5m package he’s been offered!

If you’re unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting then go ahead and submit your resignation. “Make your resignation letter factual, courteous and brief. It should always be inoffensive,” says John. “Now is not the time to score points. Remember, if you offend people on the way up, they may be the people you need on the way down.”

Leaving tips

  1. Go the extra mile at work. It will be noticed
  2. Request that a significant contribution you made to a project be mentioned in your reference
  3. Work on your last day, even if you’ve got the flu. Your efforts will be remembered and you may also get a great present and leaving party to boot
  4. Write thank you notes or emails to people who have supported your career
  5. Once you have left keep in touch with occasional lunch dates and nights out

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