Tuesday, January 15, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 3 in a Series)



This is the third part of a series focusing on leaving a job. In the first blog post, I talked about how to advise clients on what to do before they start their job search. The second blog post outlined tips for how to conduct a confidential job search.

In this blog post, I'll share how I tell clients to approach their supervisor to let them know they're leaving.

This one is often tricky for jobseekers. There’s rarely an “easy” way to let your current boss know that you’re leaving the company. This is especially true if you have been with the company a significant amount of time, or if you have a strong relationship with your supervisor. 

Here's what I tell my clients:
If you’ve had discussions with your supervisor in previous performance evaluations about your desire to move up, but these opportunities don’t exist within the company, your departure may not be a surprise. If your company was recently sold or acquired — or if your department has had a lot of recent turnover — that fact that you are leaving may not be unexpected. But if you are a key player, your resignation may be surprising, and may even cause big problems for the company. 

I advise jobseekers to let their current supervisor know as soon as they can. For most jobseekers, that means as soon as you’ve secured your new position (including getting the particulars of the new position in writing, if possible). 

Write a Letter of Resignation:
I also advise jobseekers to write a letter of resignation. Is that absolutely necessary? It depends. Many jobseekers simply tell their boss verbally that they are leaving — but there are several advantages to actually writing a resignation letter.
  • It can help start the conversation about you leaving the company. You can simply give it to your boss and say, “I’ve prepared this letter of resignation to let you know I’ve accepted another job.”
  • A resignation letter can provide you with an outline to discuss the issues related to your departure from the company (timing, unused vacation or sick leave, etc.
  • It can help you leave the job on the right foot — without burning bridges, and leaving the door open for future opportunities, should they arise.

Letters of resignation should be positive in tone. This is not the time to air grievances. The resignation letter will likely become a part of your permanent file, so choose your words carefully. If at all possible, hand-deliver (don’t email) your letter of resignation.

In the future, the person verifying your employment with the company might not be someone you worked with previously. They may review your file, and what you write in your letter of resignation might be important. A strong recommendation can be important — and it’s appropriate to reiterate your contributions in the resignation letter so that information is in your file. Just don’t go overboard; this is about you leaving the company, not angling for a raise or a promotion.

In your letter, be sure to thank your employer for the opportunities you had. You can also reiterate valued personal relationships in your resignation letter — acknowledging your work with your coworkers and supervisors. 

What to include in your letter of resignation:
  • The date you are leaving (if at all possible, give at least two week’s notice).
  • Include a forwarding address for mail and correspondence. Also include an email address where you can be reached.

A sample resignation letter might sound like this: 

Dear (Supervisor Name):

This letter is to inform you that I am resigning from my position as (job title) with (company name), effective (date). I am willing to stay on for two weeks — until (date) — in order to provide a seamless transition for my replacement.

I have appreciated the opportunity to learn from you and contribute to the company in this role. Being able to be a part of the team that launched the (name of project) that sparked the division to its highest revenues ever is something that I will always remember.

One of the most difficult things about moving on is the loss of your guidance. I have greatly benefited from your leadership and mentoring, and I would welcome the opportunity to keep in contact in the future, as I sincerely value your knowledge and experience.

We will need to work out my final work schedule as well as disposition of my accrued vacation/leave time and employee benefits; I will await your guidance on how to handle these issues.

Personal correspondence can be sent to me at my home address (list address), or via email at (personal e-mail address).

I wish you — and the company — all the best.

Sincerely,


(Your Name) 

In the next blog post, I'll talk about the "etiquette" of departure — basically, some "dos" and "don'ts" surrounding a jobseeker leaving their company.



Monday, January 14, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 2 in a Series)



In my previous blog post, I talked about some examples of people who left their jobs in dramatic fashion. While they make for exciting news headlines, it's not a great strategy for our jobseeking clients if they value their career.

I also outlined the three phases for jobseekers who are thinking about leaving a job. The first step talked about what they should do before you start their job search.

In this blog post, we'll talk about how to advise clients to conduct a job search while they are still employed.


Research shows it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, but there are special considerations jobseekers must take into account when conducting a job search while they are still employed.

Here's what I tell my clients:
The first is how they interact with a future/prospective employer. In correspondence with prospective employers or recruiters, mention that you are conducting a “confidential” job search. You can use a phrase such as “I am contacting you in confidence about this position.” However, keep in mind that prospective employers are under no obligation to respect your wishes. Also be careful when replying to blind advertisements (ones that do not provide a name for the prospective employer). More than one jobseeker has accidentally submitted a résumé to his or her current employer this way.

Don’t conduct your job search on the company’s time — or dime. Reserve your jobseeking activities to before work, on your lunch hour, or after work. If necessary, take personal leave (not sick time) to go on interviews. (You can simply say you have an appointment.) Don’t use your company computer (including accessing your personal email account) for your job search. Don’t take employment-related phone calls during your work time; allow these messages to go to your voice mail, and return the calls during breaks or before or after work. And don’t list your employer’s phone number or your business email address on your job search documents.

How you dress during your job search can also be tricky. If you work in a “casual” workplace, wearing “interview attire” to work can be a red flag that something is up. You may want to change into your more formal clothes before an interview (don’t change at work!) — or schedule job interviews on a day when you’re not working.

Providing job references is also likely to be an issue. Even if you’ve told the prospective employer that your current employer doesn’t know that you’re looking, you may still want to mention that you do not want the company to contact your current employer for a reference until they are ready to extend a job offer, so as not to jeopardize your current position. In this situation, you may need to provide several references outside of your company who can speak to your credentials and expertise.


Finally, put your LinkedIn profile up sooner rather than later. Developing a comprehensive LinkedIn profile — and building up your network of contacts — is something to do right away. If you create one before you start your job search, you can honestly say that you’re doing it to create a network of contacts to assist you in being more effective in your current position. Having a newly-minted LinkedIn profile (especially one that mentions you’re open to “new opportunities”) can tip off your supervisor (or co-workers) that you’re looking for a new position. Routinely updating an existing profile, however, is not as suspicious.

In my next blog post, I'll tell you what I advise my clients about when and how to let their supervisor know they're leaving a job (including a sample letter of resignation).

Friday, January 11, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 1 in a Series)


With the new year comes the flood of jobseekers looking to have their resumes written, their LinkedIn profiles updated, and their interview skills burnished. As resume writers, we have a responsibility to do more than just prepare these career documents — we also need to prepare our clients.

One of the most important things we can prepare our clients to do is to leave a job gracefully.

Every few months, there's a viral example in the news media of someone who left their job in dramatic fashion. Examples include the JetBlue flight attendant who famously deployed the emergency chute on the runway, or the Goldman Sachs executive who wrote a “Why I Am Leaving” article in the New York Times.

These stories catch our attention because they showcase an over-the-top way to exit a company — but they are also cautionary tales for jobseekers. When at all possible, we need to remind clients not to burn bridges at your their employer. I tell my clients, "You never know when you’ll run across your co-workers — or current supervisors — in the future." It's an adjunct to my most-common saying — which is, "Omaha is a big small town." (Omaha, where I live, is a metropolitan area of 1 million+ people, but you'd be amazed at how "small" it can be when it comes to who you know.) The same is true in almost any industry — they are smaller than you think!

When someone is thinking of leaving their job, there are things to consider in three phases of the separation — things to think about before you even begin to apply for a new job, considerations to keep in mind as you look for a new job while you’re still employed, and how to leave your current job gracefully.

In today's blog post, we'll look at the first part: The Preparation

Here's what I tell my clients:

Before You Start Your Job Search
When you decide to start looking for another position, take the time to review your old files and make a list of your accomplishments in the position. If you haven’t been collecting accomplishments all along, now is the time to start. This information will be useful in developing your résumé as well as in interviews. Make copies of documents that support your accomplishments (unless company policy prohibits it). You may not have access to this information once you submit your resignation. (I've had clients who told their boss they were quitting and were immediately escorted off the premises.)

The first thing to consider when you’re ready to resign is whether your company has a policy or guideline about how much notice you should provide. You should also check your employee handbook and any employment agreement you have with the company. If you’ve worked at the company for any length of time, you should have some idea of how resignations are handled. Does your boss ask the resigning employee to leave immediately, or do they generally ask him or her to stay on until a replacement is found? How much time is it customary to offer to stay? You should always offer to stay two weeks, but have a contingency plan in place if you’re asked to leave immediately.

Before you notify your supervisor of your resignation, make sure you are prepared to leave. You don’t want to tip anyone off that you’re leaving — things like taking your photos off your desk or boxing up personal items on your bookshelf are noticeable — but you can quietly clean out your desk and files. 

This includes cleaning off your work computer. If you have personal documents on your computer, save them to a jump drive or CD, and then delete the originals from your computer. You can forward any personal email messages you want to save to your non-work email address, and then delete the originals. (Be sure to delete messages in your “sent mail” folder from your work account too.) If you have online accounts that use your business email address for the log-in, change the accounts over to your personal email. If you downloaded software to your computer that isn’t related to your job, be sure to uninstall it. And, finally, learn how to delete your computer’s browsing history, cookies, and saved passwords from your Internet browser.

When cleaning out your desk and files, shred or trash old files that won’t be needed by your successor. 

If you bring home a few personal items at a time, it won’t be as noticeable. The goal is to be able to easily bring home all of your personal belongings in one or two boxes — and, to be able to leave your job without leaving behind any personal information.

In the next blog post, I'll share my advice for jobseekers on the second phase of jobseeking while employed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Feed Your Need for Blog Post Content

If you have a blog, you know that you constantly have to feed it. I've had this blog since 2007 and one of the constant challenges is creating a continuous stream of engaging, interesting blog content.

For those of you who are new to blogging — or even those long-time bloggers like me — here are some ideas to help keep the content flowing!
  • Repurpose What You Have. Look at your most popular content according to your analytics and engagement. Turn this content into different forms, and expand the content by adding case studies and additional data. Turn a 10-point blog post into 10 more in-depth blog posts about each point. Create video content and embed that on your blog. 
  • Read Group Discussions. Check out jobseeker-targeted groups on LinkedIn and see what your target audience is talking about. Read the active discussions. The ones where people ask questions and people offer a lot of different answers are the best places to get ideas. Every question can be a blog post and the discussions can help you come up with more ideas.
  • Take Notes. Keep a notepad near you or use your smartphone to take notes about conversations, questions, and other information as you see it and hear it. You'll often get ideas while driving your car, taking a jog, or listening to other people talk. Keeping notes and writing it all down will help. I keep my idea lists in Evernote.
  • Create a Calendar. Create a content calendar that is designed to inform, educate, engage, and activate your audience. You can use a source like the National Day Calendar to look for ideas for content.
  • Create Trending Content. Outside your calendar, you'll want to keep your blog exciting by adding in trending, newsworthy content that's all about what's happening right now. Can you tie in something from current events into your blog — like when this JetBlue flight attendant quit his job in spectacular fashion?
  • Use Pass-Along Materials Content. A great way to get content that you can use for your blog is to use Pass-Along Materials content. This done-for-you content can help you come up with ideas, act as research, and be used "as is" or with few changes.

When you understand who your audience is and what your goal is with the content you're publishing, it will be a lot easier to come up with ideas that are fantastic, thought-provoking, fresh, and effective in meeting the needs of your audience.