Getting a new job is exciting. You get to look forward to a new work environment, colleagues and responsibilities. But it’s also frightening. You now have to submit a two weeks’ notice to your current employer — and sometimes, the unexpected can occur. Learn from these stories of resignations gone wrong in order to keep your reputation and professional network intact.
1. Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario
Almost anything could happen once you turn in your two weeks’ notice. Karelyn Lambert, currently self-employed as an executive virtual assistant through oDesk (Upwork Global Inc.), says she followed tradition. She turned in a professional resignation letter two weeks before leaving her job only to have her supervisor say, “Go ahead and make today your last day.” Karelyn felt appalled by the manager’s reaction, but managed to leave the workplace without saying something she’d regret.
Tip: Rather than pretend the worst-case scenario won’t happen, admit it could. Think about your boss’s possible reactions and be specific about them. Could they eject you from the premises without pay? Burden you with extra projects and impossible deadlines? After finishing your contemplation, plan your response. Deciding how you will speak and act in private now prevents public meltdowns later — you don’t want to burn bridges.
2. Decide What You Want — and Stick to It
While your boss might have you escorted to the door, it’s also possible your boss might attempt to entice you to stay. Kevin Huhn, Founder of Be Your Best Today, experienced the latter. “When I handed in my two weeks’ notice after working there about three years,” says Kevin, “I got a call from the president of the company. She offered me a 20 percent increase in pay to stay.” Kevin refused the offer, but he said it left a good feeling and boosted his ego.
Tip: Some employers will try to keep you with incentives. If you like your current job, the new perks might sway you to stay. But be careful. Don’t let potential rewards guilt you into staying. If you think your boss might try to tempt you into remaining at the company, write down a list of pros and cons for staying and going. Knowing what you want will help you make and stand by your final decision.
3. Work Hard, No Matter What
Sometimes, no matter how strong your work ethic, you’ll encounter hostility and negativity upon handing in your resignation letter. One employer, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains the reaction. She says the vast majority of employees “check out” after giving notice.
She continued to explain that once an employee announces they are leaving, they are, for all intents and purposes, gone. They will show up, usually arriving late, doing a minimum amount of work, extending their lunch hours or leaving early. Once they resign, they are not there to make life easier for the rest of the team. They are there for the two weeks of pay, which they feel entitled to if they show up.
Her words sound brutal. However, people who intend to change jobs experience this outlook from their employer fairly often.
Tip: Don’t get angry with a boss who assumes you’re there only for the paycheck. Instead, prove them wrong. Fulfill your obligations, tie off loose ends, and stay positive. Also try to remain quiet about where you’re headed next. Crowing your career move will only confirm your boss’s beliefs, not to mention discourage or embitter your work colleagues.
4. Expect Strong Emotions
Your two weeks’ notice probably will elicit strong emotions, as in Adrianne Harris’s case. She learned how much of an impact she as an educator had had on students and coworkers amidst their tears and laughter. “Everyone was genuinely happy for me and the job,” she says, “but more than that, everyone doted on me and praised me for a job well done.”
Tip: If you’ve been at a company for a while or simply made yourself indispensable, plan for an onslaught of emotions. Also consider your disposition toward hugs, tears, well wishes and parties, and prepare accordingly. For example, if you fear you or someone else will burst into tears, come armed with a box of Kleenex.
5. Anticipate Mixed Reactions
Some people who give notice experience mixed reactions rather than strong emotions. At least, that’s what Amanda Austin, founder and president of Little Shop of Miniatures, discovered. She chose to leave what could be termed a “cushy” job to follow her passion for e-commerce and dollhouse miniatures. When her coworkers learned of her plans, one group reacted with “surprise mixed with disdain.” The other group “expressed support and admiration and admitted they . . . wished they had the courage to step out.”
Tip: You never know how people will respond to your news, but you can expect them to ask questions. Prepare your answers in advance so you don’t fumble for words or say more than you ought. To do so, think about the questions you might ask if you were them or revisit a similar situation from the past, such as explaining your selected university or chosen college major.
You might not be ready to quit your current job. However, a day will come when it’s time to move onto another opportunity. Prepare for it with the tips shared here.