Giving Notice? 10 Steps for a Smooth Career Transition
Congratulations on your new position. Now you have to navigate what may seem like a tricky resignation. But, it doesn’t need to be a cumbersome process. Your resignation should focus on two areas: giving your current employer the respect of a notice so they may plan and how you will help in making your exit a smooth transition for their company. It’s easy to be emotional during a career transition, but by focusing on the how and not the why you can leave your current company on a good note and start fresh. Below are 10 steps to keep the transition to your new position as seamless as possible.
1. Don’t feel guilty. Focus on the trusting the decision you have made and your future with your new company.
2. Write your formal resignation letter. Keep it as brief as possible, your reasons for resigning or details of your new position do not need to be shared. This is just a notice for your employer and their files. A two-week notice is sufficient for any type of position, no matter what your level or tenure. Below, is a simple format that can be used:
- Please accept this letter as my formal notice of resignation and as a two-weeks notice from today. I value the time I have spent with [company name] and please know that I aim to do what is necessary within the next two weeks to make the transition for the company as smooth as possible. If you have any suggestions on how we can best accomplish a smooth transition, I hope you will share your insights as I would like to leave on the most positive note possible.
3. Discretely clear your personal items. Pull any personal items from your workspace that you may need prior to giving notice. This includes personal items, photos, employee reviews, recommendations or items you may need for your resume or portfolio. Of course, only take what is rightfully yours. Depending on your company, it is possible they may walk you out without the opportunity to clear your desk. Don’t take this personally, some structured organizations have this as a standard.
4. Assist in your transition with an ACTION LIST. Before you even schedule a time to give notice make an Action List which outlines how you will complete your current workload and detail any outstanding items that will need attention. Include a timeframe for completion for each item and if there are specific items you solely understand or know how to do, your employer may appreciate it if you make time to provide detailed instructions or notes for the person taking over your position. This can be one of the most important things you do when transitioning and it will be a gift to your employer, it takes the guesswork out of how the transition will go and eases everyone’s minds.
5. Request a meeting with your supervisor. Tell your boss before telling anyone else – give them this respect of knowing first and being able to manage your departure. Below are a few steps to guide you:
- When do you give notice? After you have signed and returned your formal offer letter for your new position. It is better to give your notice in a face-to-face meeting. Try to schedule the meeting for a Monday or Tuesday after lunch. There are a few reasons for this, giving notice early in the week allows them to make you part of the exit plan, you also don’t want to possibly ruin their weekend with worry, plus everyone is happier after lunchtime with a full stomach.
- Stay calm. Many are nervous prior to the meeting, taking slow deep breathes or tensing and then relaxing your muscles can calm your body and mind. Remember to keep your tone of voice positive and focus on your future. You can start your meeting by giving your supervisor your letter in an envelope and saying something such as, “I have been offered another position and have accepted. Please accept this letter as my resignation and two weeks notice. I want you to know I will work to ensure a smooth transition for the company/team.”
- Focus. The focus of your resignation should be not about why you are resigning but how you can help the company with a smooth transition. Your supervisor may have immediate questions or may be quiet, remember you do not have to divulge any details of the position you have accepted, and it is best to avoid answering questions regarding your new position, especially where you are going or your compensation. Try to be as professional and sincere as possible and direct the conversation towards what needs to be accomplished to ensure a smooth transition for the company. After your meeting e-mail your letter to both your immediate supervisor, their supervisor and/or your HR department.
6. Call a supportive contact. Touch base with a friend, family member or supportive person after your conversation with your employer. It can be a stressful conversation, and you may need a bit of a lift. Also, avoid talking to your co-workers about the conversation or where you will be working.
7. Don’t accept a counter offer. You have decided to leave and you must trust your original instincts and decision that told you change was in order. You have also made a commitment to your new employer who has stopped searching for another person and is preparing for your arrival. Even if you are offered a brilliant counter offer, your current employer may be acting a bit out of desperation and even if they are not, they know that you have been looking for a new position, and this will change the dynamic of your future with the company. Also, according to National Business Employment Weekly “more than 80% of those accepting counteroffers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months anyway.” The best response in this situation is thanking your current employer and politely decline, citing a reason for why your new position offers you something your current position can’t. Usually, this is something intangible such as a better quality of life.
8. Avoid prying questions in an exit interview. Your current employer may be curious about where you are going, your new compensation or your future plans; it’s best to keep this quiet until you start at your new company. The exit interview is the time to ask about any of your benefits that should be transferred such as your retirement plan or cobra for health insurance. You may feel like you owe it to your employer or co-workers to let them know what needs to be changed to make things better. You don’t owe them this and it’s best to leave criticisms unsaid. Try to keep things brief – these items may go in your file and remember you may want a professional reference in the future. Especially avoid any personal or character points about employees of the company. Yes, it feels a bit like a game, but it’s better to stay positive and focus on the future.
9. Leave on a positive note. Don’t burn bridges. On your last day, take time to say goodbye and best wishes to your co-workers. Try to leave on a good note, whatever amount of time you spent in your position it was a part of your life and it’s best to leave that time and the people you shared it with on an upswing.
10. Take time for you. If possible try to schedule your time so you have 2 days (or more) before beginning your new position. Tie up any loose ends in your personal life that you might not have had time for in a busy schedule: go to the dentist or doctor, clean your place and your car, clean out your closet and get your wardrobe ready, get a haircut, check-in with those important people in your life, or just relax for a whole day. Take time to reflect and relax so that you can move on to your next venture with a clear head.