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How to resign in recruitment

So you’ve landed your dream job, possibly a promotion and / or a financial incentive to move on… You’re likely to be on cloud nine right now, nothing kills those happy thoughts faster than thinking about how the resignation conversation will pan out with your boss.

What to expect? A lot of this will depend on what you’re leaving to do and we’re always on hand to listen, bounce ideas off and even role play the exit conversation. By following these steps you’ll have more chance of getting out alive and with your integrity and bridges well and truly intact.

  1. Make sure all your ducks are in a row. This involves making sure your new offer is water-tight, check the contract, check the offer letter, ask any of those trivial questions you’ve put off until now regarding holidays, benefits, start dates etc. Don’t resign until you’ve boxed the above off.
  2. Plan for all possible outcomes. If you’ve been privy to anyone leaving recently you may have some insight into what may happen when you drop the bombshell. Always prepare a handover list, detailing all current candidates, clients and pipeline, try to include their stages in process and next steps and actions required. This way you’re giving your boss confidence that you’ve thought this through and you are doing the right thing by him/her too.
  3. Write a good resignation letter. Don’t take this opportunity to slate your current employer and air any frustrations, regardless of how you may feel. Be short, polite, courteous and above all write it with intent. It should include your last working date (according to your employment contract), your gratitude for the opportunity and also the investment they/the company have made into you and your career.
  4. Make sure your manager is first to know. Regardless of your current relationship with your line manager, make sure you tell them first. Imagine how you’d feel if all your friends knew that your partner was leaving you for someone else and you were the last to know, surely you owe it to them.
  5. Expect a counter offer / buyback. Now if you’re any good at your job and you’re valued by your current employer, it’s going to be very difficult (and costly) to replace you.  For example if you’re a recruiter on £25k, billing £12k per month, even if it takes just 8 weeks to identify, attract, engage and hire a replacement it is going to cost your employer £24k in lost revenue, £5-£7k in potential recruitment fees and then add in the time it takes for the new employee to get up to speed and reach your £12k per month. Industry standard is approximately (0% month one = £0k, 33% month two (£4k), 66% month three (£8k) and 100% month four so there’s a further £24k in missed revenue, giving a grand total of £53-£55k. So the questions you need to ask yourself are…
    • Will the extra money keep me happy here for the next 2-3 years?
    • What happens with regards to all of the frustrations you had which prompted you to interview in the first place?
    • Why was that money never offered to me before I handed in my notice?
    • How secure am I if I were to stay now I’ve shown disloyalty to my current employer?
    • If I were to stay, how likely would it be that I’d burn my bridges with my potential new employer?
  6. Give adequate notice. Don’t leave them in the lurch but equally you may not get paid bonus or commission on anything you’re delivering now, so don’t sabotage anything and as resentful as you may feel towards your current employer right now, do the right thing and give them the notice stated in your contract. At this point your manager may offer you a few different options, give us a call and we can help you work out which is the best option best for you.
    • Leave immediately (garden leave) and be paid up until a certain date agreed.
    • Work your full notice period as set out in your contract (paid up until your end date).
    • Work an agreed reduced notice period allowing you to start your new role earlier (paid until your end date)
  7. Expect mind games. Your employer will try and make you feel guilty, they’ll probably try to play mind games better than the Jedi’s themselves. They’ll make you doubt your ability, they’ll also make you question yourself and whether the timing is right to be moving on. You’ll know your employer better than most, put yourself in their mind, who might they bring in to conversations? Try to predict every potential outcome. If you’re going to fight a dragon, be prepared for fire, fire can burn people so be prepared to be scorched a little bit but channel that ‘firey’ energy into making your next move an absolute game-changer!
  8. Be prepared for the ‘frog march’. If your new employer happens to be a direct competitor then don’t be surprised if they ask you to leave immediately. They will be on ‘red alert’ now, so everything will be on lockdown, the last thing they want (and first thing they’ll expect) is for you to try to export the database (it’s nothing personal just damage limitation) so Directors may be assigned to watch you while you clear your desk and escort you off the premises. The ideal scenario here is that you play by the rules, don’t do anything illegal, leave the door open for future; recruitment is a funny old world, you never know where, when and how your paths may cross again.
  9. Exit interviews. In my time I’ve conducted my fair share of these, they’re not a formality and they’re definitely not a HR paperwork exercise. They’re a valuable insight into your career journey and a learning curve into what your manager/employer may be able to improve (or have done differently) in order to prevent this from happening in the future. Don’t be afraid, be honest and open, remain tactful and professional at all times. Be constructive but also remember, the business you’re leaving may be your biggest competitor on the battlefield soon, so keep all the ‘golden nuggets’ of information around the ‘how plan’ to yourself for the time being.
  10. Work hard and go out with a bang. As Kurt Cobain once said ‘it’s better to burn out, than fade away’ this is your time to show them what they’re missing, a bit like when your ex hits the gym every day for 6 weeks immediately after breaking up, you want them to be gutted they’re losing you. Don’t be surprised if there’s a last ditch attempt to retain you, even on the day you’re set to leave. Some of the best recruiters I’ve worked with have had some of their record months during their notice period, and some of their employers paid them for their integrity and efforts. So work hard, be humble, don’t bad mouth them even when you’ve left and go and make your next move a success!

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