August 30, 2013

How to Resign From Your Job


Whether you are a recruiter or candidate one of the most overlooked parts of the recruitment process is the process of resigning with one employer to take up post with the new employer.

When the initial victorious fist clenching, celebratory hugs and the general excitement of landing the dream job has passed, the candidate/recruiter must now navigate the potentially rocky post offer road to arrive safely in the new job on the first day.

This can be a nervous time for the agency recruiter who has just placed a candidate as they worry that the candidate may get cold feet, or be tempted by a counter-offer causing the placement to fall through. It can also be a tense time for the candidate who may be feeling apprehensive about the thought of approaching their boss to resign, having to work out the notice period which can sometimes be awkward, and/or entering a brave new world of employment elsewhere.

So, I thought it would be useful to prepare a resignation guide for candidates, which can help candidates to more effectively handle the resignation process prior to taking up a new post elsewhere. This guide is also designed to be used by recruiters who can relay its contents to candidates they have placed to give them advice on how to handle their resignation.

Written offer in place

The golden rule for resigning to take up post in a new job is not to resign until you have a written job offer in your hand, which includes a start date and details the salary and all the pertinent benefits and perks. If possible, don’t resign until you have a company signed employment contract. A verbal offer is not enough; you want to be totally sure of commitment from the employer – and that all the correct internal hiring approval procedures have been executed.


Where possible, try and consider factors such as bonus payment, holidays owed, vesting share options as your entitlement to these benefits can be affected by the day on which you resign. For example, resigning a week later could mean that you have accrued enough service to be eligible for a bonus payment whereas a week earlier could mean you lose your entitlement. Check all the terms and conditions that relate to your benefits vary carefully.

Breaking the news…

Your current contract may stipulate the resignation process and that may be that you should provide the employer with the appropriate notice of resignation and do so in writing. In practice, it is courteous to arrange a meeting with your manager and verbally resign and then hand them a resignation letter then and there, or follow up afterwards.

Honor your notice period, but try to negotiate a shorter one if you wish

It is vital that you honor your notice period and try not to be tempted to break it by your new employer. Most good employers will accept that if they want good employees they will have to wait to the end of a notice period. However, there is nothing wrong with asking your manager if you can finish early, before the end of your notice period. Managers are often open  to such a request, especially in sales, as the company may be less willing to disclose confidential information or company strategies with you as you may take them to your competitor.

Be prepared for a counter-offer

If your current employer does not want you to leave then you may find that they’ll offer you a higher salary to get you to stay. If this happens you may want to tell your new employer who may match the offer, exceed it or refuse to budge.

Whatever happens you will have some thinking to do and a decision to make. For example, if your original reason for leaving was money orientated, and with your present company having addressed your money concerns you might then consider accepting the counter-offer.

But, if your reason for leaving was not money orientated, then accepting a money based counter-offer may be unwise as once the initial excitement of the higher salary wears off you will be faced with the same problems which caused you to want to leave in the first place.

Also, consider that if you resign and then return on a counter-offer the way that you are perceived by your boss and team members could change and you could be perceived as disloyal. Your manager could feel some animosity as he/she could feel that they had no option to make you a counter-offer which could effect the way they treat you.

You should be aware that it is especially bad form to accept a counter-offer after you have formally accepted a post with a new employer. If you have signed a contract, then you will be in breach of contract with the new employer, but they probably won’t pursue it. But, you will get a bad reputation with your agency and may burn your bridges with the employer who you may want to work with in the future.

If you do receive a counter-offer, I urge you to consider these points, and jot down the pros and cons of leaving/staying and then discuss with someone whose opinion you value.

If you do accept a counter offer make sure that it is in writing before you turn down your current offer of employment with the new employer.

Build bridges

Finally, your current employer should be a source of referees and business connections for the future. So, approach your most trusted colleagues and managers and ask if they will act as a referee. Reach out and make LinkedIn connections with colleagues before you leave while you are still familiar with them.

Read more in Career Help

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.