In the Departure Lounge?

Published: 13 June 2013

Making a career move is life changing – that’s how we see it. It affects businesses, colleagues, families, so it’s important to do it well. With a forward mindset we naturally focus upon ‘getting’ the offer, and then on-boarding into the new role. Transitioning out of the present job is often seen as a minor, but stressful, point of process.

The age of the ‘job for life’ has long since passed. Almost all Gen X / Y studies predict that careers are getting increasingly less linear; made up of multiple career phases and with several distinct roles in each. In an increasingly interconnected ‘small’ world, burning bridges will be something you can ill afford to do. Making a good exit will almost be as important as a good start.

So, you have negotiated your offer, signed the papers and its time to do the deed. Resigning in the right way will set the tone for your exit, so it’s worth doing a little preparation. Here are five key tips to help get it right:

  • Reconnect with your initial motivations for a move – clarity of mind and purpose will help you better communicate your rationale for making a move. Share your vision well and people will buy into your career journey. They may not like the result but they are more likely to be supportive of your transition out of the business.
  • Plan the messages that you wish to communicate in your resignation– be positive, what is the move doing for you? Share why you feel you need to change firms to achieve these goals.
  • Be clear that you are delivering an outcome, not inviting a discussion - if there were conditions that could be changed to make you stay, one might hope you’d have been able to achieve them less dramatically.
  • Be up front about exit conditions that you wish to negotiate - E.g. an early release from your contractual notice. Speak plainly, ask the question. It’s difficult to be unreasonable if you are being reasonable!
  • Resignation meetings are for resigning – maintain focus on the objective of your resignation meeting, don’t stray into deep frustrations or criticisms. Use an exit interview to raise criticisms.  And do it constructively or not at all.

As a recruiter I’ve always focused upon ensuring that candidates are ‘joining’ a new firm, rather than simply ‘leaving’ their old firm.  I think it’s a healthy way to think.  Remember there is only one reason for being in the Departure Lounge, and that’s to embark upon the next stage of a journey. Commit and enjoy your next destination!

Matt Cockbill is a Partner and Head of Technology and Energy, Manufacturing & Infrastructure Practices for Berwick Partners.

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