How to Gracefully Give Notice

Mary Jo writes:
I’ve been using your site a lot over the past few months and the
resources you offer helped me tremendously.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been offered a job and accepted the offer
but can’t seem to locate information about giving notice and negotiating
a smooth transition with my current employer.

The Career Doctor responds:
Kudos to you for understanding the importance of not burning any bridges as you transition from your old employer to your new one. You should always leave an employer on good terms — even if you leave hating the company job co-workers or boss(es). The world is a small place and you just never know when you will run into previous bosses and co-workers.
The key issue with resigning is to do so with class. Give the proper amount of notice which for most professional jobs is two weeks. I suggest putting your resignation in writing — just so there is a record of it. Offer to stay longer if you are integrally involved in a major project. In most cases your boss will take the news graciously but be prepared for some negative vibes. In some cases your current employer will make a counter offer to try and get you to stay — and you could consider it but we’ve found that counter offers simply just prolong your inevitable departure.
Here are some other do’s and don’ts of resigning gracefully:

  • Do make the transition as easy and as smooth as possible. And do
    offer to help find and/or train your replacement. But don’t make promises you can’t — or won’t — keep.

  • Don’t disappear during your last weeks on the job. Do stay a productive member of the team.
  • Do make sure you receive all your stored up compensation and benefits including
    bonus checks and unused vacation time personal days etc.

  • Do make a plan to keep in touch with key coworkers friends and mentors. Keep
    your network strong.

  • Don’t feel guilty about leaving. It may be hard to leave but focus on the fact that
    you are leaving to accept a great career opportunity. And don’t brag about that great opportunity.

  • Do your best to wrap up all your major assignments. And do leave a detailed
    progress report for your supervisor and/or successor.

Read all my do’s and don’ts of resigning — along with samples of job resignation letters and
memos — in this article on Quintessential Careers:
Resigning with Class:
How to Diplomatically Resign From Your Job
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