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Parting Company: How to Resign Professionally

You are considering a change because your present company doesn’t offer the potential for the growth you seek. You have looked at your decision to change both logically and emotionally, and it’s the emotional decision that is the hardest. That old axiom, ”Don’t let your heart rule your mind,” is much easier to say than to follow. But the fact remains, your needs are not being satisfied! Sure, the company has helped you progress professionally; sure, you’ve made many new friends; sure, you even feel comfortable because you can handle the job well. However, as certainly as you’re reading this, your objectives and goals are secondary to those of the company, and they will always remain that way. As soon as you thought about changing jobs, subconsciously you knew this was true.

Top executives agree that the days of the gold watch for 30 years of faithful service are gone. In fact, experience at several good companies is considered an asset because your horizons are expanded. Today, changing jobs is a necessity if you expect your career to grow.

Your changes cannot be too frequent, and you must be able to demonstrate that by making the change, your experience was enhanced.

Don’t resign until you have another position. Experience has shown that it is easier to find a job if you are presently employed.

Let’s face it, it is natural to resist change and avoid disruption, and your present employment is no exception. If you’re doing a good job your employer will not want to lose you, and you can expect a counteroffer even though you have accepted a job elsewhere. So long as you haven’t started your new position, the company and your boss are going to woo you. You’ll be seduced with more money; you may get, or at least be promised, a promotion. The appeal will be emotional in nature. There will be an apology made in the form of not knowing of your dissatisfaction. Your boss may even enlist a senior vice president or the president to help convince you that you’re making a mistake.

It is guaranteed that you will hear the following in some form or another:

(1) “We have plans for you that will come to fruition the first of next month – it’s my fault for not telling you.”

(2)  “I shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to let you in on some confidential information. We’re in the progress of reorganizing and it will mean a significant promotion for you in six months.”

(3)  “We’ll match your new offer and even better it by ‘x’ percent. This raise was supposed to go in to effect the first of next quarter anyway, but because of your fine record we will start it immediately.”

(4)  “When I told the president of your decision, he told me he wants to have dinner with you and your spouse as soon as possible. You just tell me when, and he’ll drop everything to discuss this situation with you.”

Counteroffer Implications

A counter offer can be a very flattering experience. Your emotions may be swayed; you may lose your objectivity; you are going to be tempted to stay; “buyer's remorse” will set in – that apprehension of change will urge you to reconsider your decision.

Accept the counteroffer only if you can answer “no” to all the following:

(1) Did I make the right decision to seek other employment because I felt a new environment would provide me with the opportunity to advance my career?

(2) If I decide to stay after giving notice, will my loyalty be suspect and will this affect my chance for advancement in the future?

(3) If my loyalty is questioned, is there the possibility that I will be in an early lay-off or be terminated if business slows down?

(4) Is the raise they’re offering me to stay just my annual review coming early?

(5) The raise I was offered is above the guideline for my job. Does this mean they are “buying time” until a replacement can be found within the acceptable compensation guidelines for my job?

(6) I got the counteroffer because I resigned. Will I always have to threaten to quit each time I want to advance?

Logic Must Prevail

As a professional, your career decisions must be made objectively; free of the emotional pressures you are likely to experience. Others will try to influence you, but sometimes only you know things are not right a will not get better. How do you explain a “gut feeling”? Are you expecting your company to be sorry to see you leave and to make some attempt to keep you? Their response should be considered flattering, but it’s beset with pitfalls too numerous to risk.

It’s up to you to end your relationship as professionally as you begun it. Write a letter expressing your thanks for the opportunity they extended and telling them you enjoyed the relationship, but that your decision is irrevocable. Put it in your own words and mail it or personally hand it to your immediate supervisor. Be pleasant but firm. Your new employer is anxious to have you start, so remember, two weeks’ notice is almost always sufficient.

A counteroffer is a belated confirmation of the contributions you’ve made. Move ahead to your new job knowing you’ve made the right decision. After all, if you don’t look after your future, who will?

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