In the February 10, 2015 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, we discuss how to know it’s time to go, what to say to exit interviews, and how to resign right.
But there’s a lot more to the challenge of “parting company” with your employer. This gets short shrift from career writers and advisors because it’s considered water under the bridge — everyone wants to talk about “what to do next.”
The thing is, how you handle leaving your job is largely up to you. It can affect your prospects dramatically — and it can hurt your career. Even if you get fired, you have choices. It’s important to know what your options are. Whether you quit, get fired, or get downsized, do it on your own terms.
Leave on your own terms
This week, I’d like to share some advice straight from the book — just a few of the many issues you need to consider before you take that big step out the door.
Say NO to exit interviews
Whether you get fired or quit, never do an exit interview. (pp. 53-57) I have polled HR managers for over a decade. None can name one benefit of the dreaded exit interview for the departing employee, but I can name several serious risks. Whether you say complimentary things in an exit interview, or make critical comments and vent your frustrations, your words can be used against you.
Most obvious: Suppose you need to take legal action to get your final paycheck or a bonus you’re owed, or because you later realize you were discriminated against. Your employer can use your verbose comments to support its own case. Or, if someone later calls this employer to check your references, any negative comments saved to your personnel file might influence the quality of references you’re given.
Consenting to an exit interview just isn’t worth it.
HR managers argue that they need your candid comments if they’re to improve the company and their processes. But if that really matters to your employer, then HR should be asking you exit interview questions regularly, while you’re an employee, so you can benefit from any resulting improvements.
These are just a few reasons why, when you’re leaving your job, the prudent response to an exit interview is, No, thank you.
Read the signals now
Is it time to go? (pp. 9-11) You should be the best judge of whether it’s time to leave your job, before your employer decides for you. People often get fired because they don’t see signals that it’s time to go. It may be time to go when:
- You’ve got no professional support. You’re the “top dog” in your department, and there’s no one to mentor you further. You start to stagnate, while everyone else comes to you for help doing their jobs.
- You’re always ahead of your employer. You understand your work, your tools, the market, and trends better than your employer does, but no one listens to you.
- You are isolated. There are too many walls between your job function and the rest of the company. You’re not allowed to put your head together with other departments to produce the best solutions. Everyone is isolated.
- You’re not growing. Your employer doesn’t encourage continuing education and offers little, if any, training. They like you just the way you are, and they want you to stay that way.
Do you know how to resign? (pp. 40-49) Many people simply don’t know how to resign properly. This can be catastrophic. Get your ducks in a row before you do it.
- Check your employer’s exit policy. You may be ushered out the door instantly, without being allowed to return to your desk. Find out how others have been treated, and check the written policy.
- Never resign your old job unless you have the new offer in writing. I’ve seen too many people treat an oral offer as bona fide, quit their old job, and find themselves on the street when the offer is never finalized, or rescinded.
- Get your stuff. Never take what’s not yours, but if you announce your departure too early, you may have to fight to get your belongings back. Plan ahead.
- Resign in writing, one sentence only. This is no time to hand your employer ammo against you. Keep it short: “I, John Jones, hereby resign my position with ABC Company.” Sign and deliver to your boss with a copy to HR. Anything you say beyond that can be used against you by your employer. A resignation is business, not personal. Keep it simple.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the HR process that kicks in when you’re on your way out the door. I’ll tell you about The 7 Gotchas of Goodbye. (Oh, yes — HR is waiting for you with a few surprises!)
Have you been fired or downsized? Did you quit for a better job? Did anything happen in the process that you didn’t expect or plan for? How have you controlled your departure from an employer?