Exiting Gracefully

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posted by Dan Ogden


Let’s call it like it is – as headhunters, we want to see those professionals we’ve placed transition seamlessly from their current employer to the client we’ve matched their skills and experiences with after an offer is accepted.

Part of the process we recommend is a brief resignation letter – “Please be advised that effective[two weeks from the date of the letter] I am ending my employment with [current employer’s name].  Thank you for the opportunities you have provided me.  Regards, [your name]”

But another part of the process we recommend is this: you’ve already made up your mind to leave, so remain committed but cordially discrete.  When the discussion comes to “Where are you going?”, we usually recommend politely but assertively declining to comment (“I’d prefer not to discuss it now.  I’ll let you know after I’ve started.”).

Likewise, we recommend not discussing the terms of your new offer – doing so almost always creates the impression you’re playing one offer against the other, which has the unwanted side effect of creating a negative connotation on your way out.

Gently reminding your employer that you’d like to keep the focus on a smooth transition for their business creates an opportunity to leave an exceptionally strong lasting impression.

This article from Harvard Business Review directly echoes the sentiment with the premise that what we remember most about co-workers are the highest and lowest experiences – and since, at resignation, your personal peaks have already been experienced by your employer, it is best to avoid leaving a sour taste should a resignation not be handled courteously, professionally and with aplomb.

Leave with brevity and certainty, assisting in the transition where possible, and you’ll create a new peak experience that often turns into a future reference.