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Q  "How to resign from your old job"
I am about to give my notice to my employer for whom I've worked for 2 1/2 yrs. I have a week's vacation coming, so:

  1. Should I include the week's vacation as part of my remaining two weeks?
  2. Is it necessary to have a letter from my new employer which lists specifics (i.e., salary, start date, insurance start date, etc.) before I give notice to my current employer?
  3. What else is important to making this transition a smooth one?

Thanks for your help.

A  When I first started headhunting, I found that it took job candidates surprisingly long to accept job offers. Then I realized they just didn't know how to resign! They were either afraid to because it was too awkward a situation, or they didn't understand the protocol and pitfalls. Everyone can stand a refresher on this critical rite of passage.

Be very careful when tendering a resignation. This isn't the time to make a point. If you say too much, you could cause yourself serious problems.

Approach your boss (not a personnel jockey) privately, calmly, and preferably in his or her office with the door closed. Have your resignation letter in hand. Don't beat around the bush, and don't get emotional or defensive. "After a lot of serious thought, I've come to the decision that it's time to resign my position." Hand your boss the letter and let him take it from there. It's worth remembering the adage, "Never complain, never explain."

  1. Although it won't likely happen, assume you will be promptly escorted to the exit by a security guard. This is common nowadays. Prepare yourself for the possibility, and be ready to leave immediately. If this is how the company handles it, they will likely empty your desk and pack your personal effects for you. On the other hand, your boss may ask you to train your replacement. You won't know till the time comes.
  2. Regarding vacation time due you: just state that you're giving two weeks notice. Once your resignation is complete, then you can raise the issue of your vacation time, and work with the employer to factor this in. If you're willing to stay longer, agree to it only after your boss requests it.
  3. Never resign one job until you have a bona fide, written offer from the new employer. It's rare, but I've seen verbal offers withdrawn. It's harder for a company to withdraw a written offer (though not impossible). Get it in writing first.
  4. Your resignation, if it's in writing, should be very brief. All it should say is, "I, John Doe, hereby resign my position as Manager at ABC Company. Sincerely, John Doe." Put today's date on it and that's it. There's no need to give a "last day" in the letter. This can be worked out later.

Anything else you include in a resignation letter can be used against you, especially if the company does something that requires legal action on your part (for example, if they don't give you your last paycheck).

Don't thank the company in your resignation letter. Don't complain about anything. Don't recount your accomplishments. Keep is short and sweet. Anything else you want to say, say it with your mouth, not with a pen.

Don't tell your employer where you're going. If you want to share that, do it a week or two after you've started the new job. It's rare, but I've seen the old employer try to nuke a person's new job before they start a new job elsewhere (you never know what the reaction will be). No need to take a chance.

Hope that helps. All the best on the new job.

The Headhunter


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