It is important to set the right professional tone when resigning, after all, how you act when leaving your employer defines how you will be remembered and this is a small industry so being respectful and professional is vital. We are often asked whether or not candidates should be frank during the HR exit interview (if there is one) and we normally advise that discretion is often the better part of valour in these circumstances.
When you have decided to develop your career and take on new challenges in pastures new and leave your current employer it is important to remember your ongoing duties to your existing employer when handing in your resignation.
As part of our continuing How to be a Good Leaver series of articles, we asked David Hunt, the HR partner at Farrer & Co, to give his advice to candidates and clients about this process.
Part 2 – The Art of Resigning
- Once you have received your written offer and have accepted it, it is advisable for you to submit your resignation to your current employer as soon as practicable.
- That said, consider the timing of any offer and resigning alongside any bonus or stock otherwise due to you. Generally speaking your legal position will always be stronger once a bonus or profit share has been declared, and certainly once it has been paid. If in any doubt, consult a legal adviser over issues such as this.
- Be straightforward, courteous and transparent in handing in your resignation. Whereas a resignation letter will typically only need to be short (e.g I wish to resign and am giving x months’ notice as required under my contract, so making my resignation effective on y date), common courtesy dictates that you should also communicate your resignation in person to your manager and tell them that you have accepted an offer to join the relevant new employer commencing as soon as your notice with your current employer expires (or as soon as any express restrictive covenants allow).
- It will sometimes be possible to negotiate a shortened period of notice, but bear in mind the time to negotiate this will rarely be at the same meeting when you have just broken the news that you are resigning. It is often advisable to do nothing more at this stage than flag up your wish in the near future to meet again to discuss logistics for handover and leaving date.
- Generally speaking where you are seen to be behaving honourably and with your existing employer’s best interests in mind vis-a-vis announcements, client handovers, staff morale etc your chances of agreeing an early leaving date will improve.
- Conversely, if you are seen to be secretive, bolshie or stirring up discontent this is more likely to result in you being penalised both in terms of remuneration and release date.
How you are perceived to have acted during this sensitive time will impact on the legacy you leave behind. Everyone would like to be remembered well by colleagues and bosses, and they might well be asked to give a reference about you at some point in the future, so think carefully how best to break the news sensitively and professionally and act within the spirit and letter of your contract throughout the process of resigning.
In our next article, David will explain what you are, and more importantly what you are not allowed to do during your notice period and gardening leave. In future articles, we will be looking at joining your new employer.