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Career Advice

What NOT To Do When You Resign

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated Apr 18, 2017
|5 min read

Giving the old two-weeks notice, eh? Time to move on from your current company and seek new opportunities — I get it. It's a part of the career lifecycle. However, how you resign can leave a lasting impact on your employer and your colleagues. To not tarnish your legacy or become fodder for industry gossip, it is critical to exit as gracefully and graciously as possible.

Sure, you may want to shout "I'm outta here!" from the office rooftop, or take a bow before you skip gleefully out of the door. But leave the President Obama mic drop theatrics for the pros. Quitting your job shouldn't be a flippant statement, it should be a well-choreographed transition.

I caught up with two of Glassdoor's lead HR experts to get the dos and dont's of resigning. Here are the highlights from my chat with Lee-Anne Farley, Global HR Operations Leader, and Senior Talent Acquisition Partner Jamie Hichens.

1. What is expected of resigning employees when it comes to the first day they announce their resignation?
"First and foremost, they should go directly to their manager to let them know they are resigning. Telling anyone else first is unprofessional, and quite frankly, disrespectful," says Hichens. "Even if you are dying to tell your best friend at work, refrain until after you've notified your boss. Then put together a transition plan with your manager to ensure a smooth offboarding for your team. And ask your manager how they'd like your departure to be communicated or if they will own that communication."

2. From an HR perspective, when an employee initially announces his or her resignation, what are HR’s next steps? What do you do as an HR professional?
"Initially HR should seek to understand the reason for the resignation and work with both the exiting employee and the exiting employee’s manager to agree a transition plan that takes into account both business needs but also the needs of the departing exiting employee," says Farley. "Things such as does the exiting employee need to be in the office all the time, how do we communicate the departure to team members and the greater Company, a goodbye event, etc. are all very important to the exit experience.  From a HR perspective, the exit experience should be as positive as possible."

3. At one time two-weeks notice was mandatory. Is that still the case?
Yes, says Hichens. "It is the most professional and considerate thing to do, as is offering even more time if that's possible.  Offering less than 2 weeks will definitely leave a bad taste in your manager's mouth and that's not how you want to be remembered."

4. What are a few “no-nos” when it comes to resigning?
According to Hichens, don't do the following when you hand in your resignation:

  • Don't complain to other employees about the company/your manager/your coworkers - don't poison the well.  It's a bad look.
  • Don't leave without an agreed upon transition plan in place.
  • Don't get overly emotional.  Leaving a job is a big life transition but keep the tears to a minimum.

5. How closely should the employee work with HR on an exit plan?
"This very much depends on the specific circumstances but typically HR should work closely with the exiting employee to determine the exit experience," says Farley. "Glassdoor wants an exiting employee to have a positive experience as they depart and always leave the door open for another "tour of duty" and/or make sure that all exiting employees, past and present are true ambassadors for Glassdoor.  While this cannot always happen, our goal is to maintain a positive relationship during and after employment.  HR also has an obligation to provide departing exiting employees with all relevant information on benefits, etc. to alleviate any concern or anxiety that may exist."

6. How can an employee’s reputation be affected by a bad “off-boarding” experience?
"A manager, a team and a company will always remember a bad off-boarding experience if an employee does any of the no-nos above. You should leave your legacy at that company in a positive light," says Hichens.  "So much so that it does feel like a loss when you leave, and not something to celebrate.  If you leave on bad terms you can expect that the people you worked with won't help you land a job at another company in the future.  Even if you're disgruntled on your way out and excited to leave your job, put on a happy face and never let your true feelings be known."

7. How can a smooth resignation improve or protect an employee’s reputation?
"At Glassdoor, we've had employees who have left on great terms," insists Hichens. "They've wanted to explore other opportunities that would expand their careers beyond what we could offer them at the time. That allows us to keep the door open for them to return if they choose to do so, and a few of those people have come back to work for us again."

8. What are the general rules around resignations and all-company emails?

While "each company has their own rules around this," says Farley, "the exiting employee and manager should sit down and discuss the transition and agree a communications plan for their team, stakeholders and the Company at large. If circumstances permit, always make an exiting employee feel as valued on their last day as they did on their first day.  All Company emails are preferred by some companies but I always prefer to do a visual announcement of new hires and departing colleagues  at a regular company meeting such as a Huddle and show a reel at the beginning with names and pictures. Something along the lines of 'Thank you and Goodbye with our best wishes.'"

9. Anything that departing employees should be mindful of when it comes to NDAs and exit paperwork?
"The exit paperwork is usually necessary for an exiting employee’s well-being as it contains information about benefits, payment, etc," says Farley.  "So is a necessary evil. Exiting employees should take the time to meet with HR, review the paperwork and ask as many questions as they need to ensure they have all the data they need and suffer no anxiety afterward.  Always ask about your 401(k), your benefits, life insurance and reference policy."

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