As talk of a thaw in hiring freezes rises above a whisper, many people are already planning to look for a new position when the job market picks up.
Some 60% of workers say they intend to leave their jobs when the economy improves, according to a survey by Right Management, a talent and career-management consulting firm in Philadelphia. It might be tempting to give the boss an earful if you land a new job in the coming months. But the way you quit can have a long term impact on your career. How to resign on good terms:
• Be prepared. Review your employee handbook or employment contract before announcing your decision, so you know what company policy is regarding resignations, severance, the return of company property and pay for unused vacation time. Also, find out the company’s reference policy to see what information will be disclosed to a prospective employer. If you have another job lined up, be sure to have your offer in writing before you resign.
• Use it or lose it. If you haven’t used your vacation time and will lose it if you quit, you might want to use your time before leaving or link it to your resignation date. States like California consider accrued vacation time to be part of wages and must be paid upon resignation or termination says employment attorney Michael J. Goldfarb, president of Northridge Calif.-based Holman HR. But if you don’t want to burn any bridges, don’t take vacation and announce your departure just after you return.
• Make an appointment. “Be formal and make an appointment with your boss,” recommends Tanya Maslach, a San Diego, Calif., career expert who specializes in relationship management issues. “Prepare what you want to say. Be direct and engaging—and be transparent,” Ms. Maslach says. She also recommends offering to help make the transition easier; ask your boss how you can best do that. After the discussion, put your resignation in a hard-copy letter that includes your last day and any transitional help you’ve offered. Keep a copy. Two weeks advance notice is still standard but experts recommend offering more time if you’ve worked at the company for more than five years. You also need to be prepared to leave right away—some companies require it.
• Don’t take the stapler. “It’s not worth it,” says Mr. Goldfarb. “If there are security cameras or coworkers with a grudge, stealing from the company doesn’t look good.” In some cases, you could also end up getting billed for the missing equipment—or even taken to court, he says.
• Scrub your digital footprint. Clear your browser cache, remove passwords to Web sites you use from work, such as your personal email or online bank account and delete any personal files on your work computer that aren’t relevant to work. Don’t delete anything work related if you’re required to keep it.
• Be honest but remain positive. Be helpful during the exit interview but keep responses simple and professional. Don’t use the session to lay blame or rant about coworkers, bosses or the workplace. “Whatever you do, don’t confess about how much you disliked working there,” says Ms. Maslach. “If you want to leave a helpful bit of advice or opinion, consider offering your expertise to your soon-to-be ex-boss … offer to be available to them for advice when they get in a rut.”
• Stay close. Consider joining an employee alumni association, which often serves as a networking group for former employees. It can be a good way to keep up with changes in the company and industry—and find leads to new jobs down the road. Keep in touch with coworkers you worked closely with; they may end up in management roles.
Write to Dennis Nishi at email@example.com