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.