I criticize many of the standard business scripts that we have been taught to follow. At the same time, traditional scripts can come in handy. I don't want you to improvise your resignation speech and possibly say something you'll wish later that you hadn't said.
Here is the standard resignation speech and protocol:
• You sign an offer letter to go and work for a new employer. You stop and get a nice gelato on the way home. Hurrah for you!
• Now you have to give notice at your current job. Before you give notice, make sure that all of your personal belongings are safely out of your workplace. Make sure that any personal files that belong to you are copied and deleted from your work computer. Make sure that you're connected on
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• Now you are ready to give notice! Pick a time when your manager is alone in his or her office or when a private space like a conference room is available.
• Walk into your boss's office or grab him or her and say, "Can I chat with you privately for a second?" and pull your manager into the empty conference room.
• Now, say, "Ellen, I just wanted to let you know that I'm very grateful to you for hiring me and I've learned a lot from you. I've accepted a position at another firm and I'd like you to give you my two weeks notice. My last day will be Friday, September 15th. We can talk about how I can train someone to fill in at my desk once I'm gone and I've already been thinking about that."
Your goal is to let your soon-to-be-ex-manager know that you're taking your responsibilities seriously even as you depart.
If you already know that your company is the kind of place that will not accept a departing employee's offer to give two weeks of notice and will walk him or her out the door like a criminal instead, then don't give notice! In that case, just pick a last day and tell your manager on the way out, "This was my last day."
This script and process are only for people who are confident that they will be able to work until their planned departure date.
Ellen may react to your announcement with shock or horror or she may shed a few tears -- I have seen all three reactions countless times. She may appear blase but she may be freaking out inside if you have been holding the department together.
Here are 10things never, ever to say when you're giving notice. It's important to rehearse your resignation speech until it trips comfortably off your tongue, because if you freestyle your resignation speech your tongue may run away with itself and start saying things you don't want to say, like these:
1. Don't ever bash your employer, even if your manager asks you, "Why are you leaving -- is it because we cut your pay and increased your workload and the VP called our department 'the profit-suckers?'" You'll say, "I just need a change." You'll say, "Thank you for everything you've done." It won't do any good to air your complaints and anyway, living well is the best revenge.
2. Don't say, "I'm sorry" about your departure. You are not sorry. You owe your employer a good day's work every day you work, and that's all you owe them. You don't have to apologize for changing jobs.
3. If your manager asks you what company you're going to work for, you don't have to tell her. You can, if you want to, of course. You can also say, "It's not a competitor -- it's not even in the same industry" if that is all true.
4. Don't make any promises as you give notice. If you like your boss or feel pressure from her you may feel tempted to say, "Of course, you guys can call me anytime with your questions!" Don't say that. You don't want to answer their calls three months from now when you have a whole new job to focus on.
5. Don't sign anything as you leave. If you have to choose between forfeiting your last two weeks of work and signing some paper that someone sticks under your nose, tell them that you need to have the document reviewed by a professional before you can sign it. It's probably a non-compete agreement, a release from all claims or a non-solicitation agreement that will bar you legally from contacting your current employee's customers and maybe employees, too. You can take the document and show it to an employment attorney (someone who represents plaintiffs like you, rather than employers) if you want to, or you can just tell your employer to pound salt. It's too bad for themthat they waited until now to try to get you to sign something. They have no power over you now, and you don't have to sign a thing.
6. If your boss or someone in HR asks you, "Which of your workmates knew that you were job-hunting?" you'll keep quiet. Just say, "Oh, it was a very personal job-hunt" and leave it at that.
Photo by Dr. James Campbell
7. Don't say that you'll do an exit interview with someone in HR.You can leave that decision for later. I'm not a fan of exit interviews. If they wanted to know how you felt about your job, why did they wait until you quitto ask you?
8. If your manager asks you, "How long have you been job-hunting?" you can say, "Oh, I only looked at occasional opportunities that came along and this one was perfect for me." You can see why managers get freaked out when they think about the last few weeks or months working alongside you, never knowing that you were also interviewing with other firms. That realization can throw your manager off balance. Don't make it worse by saying, "I've been job-hunting for the past six months."
9. If your manager asks you whether your new company is hiring -- and this is not an uncommon occurrence -- smile and say, "You and I will keep in touch!" Say the same thing if your workmates ask you to help them get a foot in the door at your new company. This is not a time for you to make commitments to anyone, especially sinceyou haven't even started the new job yet.
10. If your manager begs you to give her 24 hours to put together a counter offer to try and get you to stay, you can say, "I've already accepted the job offer and signed an offer letter." With luck you will have already concluded that you were ready to leave your current company before you signed on with the new organization. Unless your situation is very unusual, an emergency bump in your pay as a reaction to your job offer is unlikely to resolve the issues that got you to start job-hunting in the first place.
You will do a brilliant job in your new position, and more importantly grow your muscles.
Be sure to leave your current job on the right note and sail into your new job with aplomb!
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