The job market is hot. And with a hot job market comes turnover. Employees everywhere are reevaluating their current jobs and pursuing change. In Alumni Career Services, we are getting lots of questions from our clients about the best way to handle a departure. At the very least, you want to ensure that your most recent job doesn’t become a snag in future background checks. But more likely, you aim to maintain long-lasting friendships and networking relationships with your colleagues, so ending on a positive note is essential. Here are some suggestions for ensuring a smooth transition.

4 Tips to Follow Before You Resign

  1. Carefully review your noncompete clause. Make sure that you are familiar with any restrictions or constraints that would preclude you from moving forward with your next opportunity. You do not want any surprises.
  2. Secure any nonproprietary files, information, contacts, etc., that you want to take with you. Similarly, delete all personal files and emails that you may have stored on your device(s). Some employers will ask you to turn over all equipment and materials immediately.
  3. It seems obvious, but make sure you have a legally binding, signed agreement with your next employer before you resign. Negotiations and hiring processes can go awry! If you are concerned about leaving your current employer in a lurch, negotiate for more time before your start date.
  4. Speaking of start date, make sure you are comfortable with the amount of notice you are giving your current employer and are aware of any requirements. Many companies require 2-4 weeks’ notice, depending on your seniority in the organization. You also want to build in a break. There are very few times in your life where you are truly unencumbered by work. An extra week or two to recharge your batteries is well worth taking.

4 Tips for Resigning

  1. Tell your manager first. Schedule an appointment, face-to-face, if possible, and work around your boss’ schedule. Don’t be tempted to tell your office friends first. This is a courtesy to your boss, who is likely to be your most important reference in the future.
  2. Be thoughtful about a succession plan for your role, including the transition of clients, projects, etc., and prepare recommendations. Ensuring a smooth transition for your leaders and colleagues contributes to a positive professional reputation.
  3. Be prepared for a counter offer. It is amazing what an employer is suddenly willing and able to do to keep top talent when said top talent is ready to walk away. Is a counter something you’d entertain? What would the counter need to be? It might not happen, or you might be set on leaving no matter what, but you don’t want to be caught off guard.
  4. Prepare a resignation letter. Short and sweet. This is just a formality that most employers require for the record. Two sentences — one with the resignation statement and one with an end date — can suffice. Some brief positive words are nice, but not necessary, and this is not a good place to air grievances.

In some industries, be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be asked to leave immediately, especially if you are going to a competitor. Do not take it personally, this may be standard company protocol.

5 Tips to Follow After You Resign

  1. Notify your employees, colleagues and others. Keep in mind that, while many may be happy for you, your departure could be bad news for some, like people that report to you or your closest colleagues. Not only will they miss you, but your leaving may stir up concerns about their own future with the company. Be sensitive. Maintain your professionalism, remaining positive and engaged throughout your final days on the job. Avoid complaining and stating grievances or acting on any negative feelings about the job you’re leaving.
  2. Update anyone who was helpful to you in your transition journey. It’s a good excuse to thank them again and reinforce the relationship. Provide updated contact information and offer to be helpful to them.
  3. For future reference, find out from HR who the point of contact is for employment verification. The POC could be a third party. Find out what their policies are about what they will disclose. Many will say it is their policy to only disclose dates of employment, but some will answer questions about the reason for your departure or if they would rehire you.
  4. Prepare for an HR exit interview. Know that participation and responses to individual questions are completely voluntary. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on this topic: “How Honest Should You Be During Your Exit Interview?” If you choose to be honest with constructive feedback, be professional and do not assume confidentiality.
  5. Inform your broader network. Update your contact information on LinkedIn, any associations, and of course, don’t forget the Darden Alumni Directory!

If you are in need of guidance as you navigate your own transition, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Alumni Career Services and set up time to speak with an experienced coach.