Resigning on Good Terms – How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

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My wife recently informed her boss that she will be resigning her position to become a stay-at-home-mom. My wife put a lot of thought into the decision to be a stay-at-home-mom and in the end, we decided that was the best decision for us and for our child. She was very nervous about giving her…

My wife recently informed her boss that she will be resigning her position to become a stay-at-home-mom. My wife put a lot of thought into the decision to be a stay-at-home-mom and in the end, we decided that was the best decision for us and for our child.

how to resign gracefully and not burn any bridges

She was very nervous about giving her resignation. She had only been with her company for about two years, and she felt like she was bailing out on them after only being there for a short period of time. She also worried what others might think about her leaving.

These are rational thoughts, but I reminded her that she is not “bailing out” on them – she is resigning to be a stay-at-home-mom which is a wonderful opportunity. But her heart was in the right place. It is important to resign on good terms; you never know what will happen in the future and you want the last impression you leave to be a good impression.

That said, resigning from a job is probably never going to be easy. It’s a difficult decision and a hard conversation to have with your boss.

I know that every job is different, and every boss is going to take the news differently, but there are a few things that you should do to ensure that you’re leaving the company on good terms.

How to Resign on Good Terms

The following tips can help you resign without putting your company in a bad position.

Inform your boss first. The last thing you want is your boss to hear about your resignation through the grapevine. Have the courtesy to inform him or her before telling your coworkers. The same thing goes for other important life events that may impact your job performance or attendance, such as telling your boss you are pregnant.

Put it in writing. It’s a great idea to tell your boss in person, but it’s also good form to formalize your resignation by giving your boss a resignation letter. The letter doesn’t need to be long or dramatic – keep it simple, polite, and firm. We have more on this topic below.

Give plenty of time. My wife is resigning from her position because she is expecting our first child. Since we know she will not be coming back and it is illegal for them to use her pregnancy as an excuse to fire her (see Pregnancy Discrimination Act), she should give her manager a reasonable amount of time to prepare for her departure. In her case, she will be giving about a month and a half notice. This gives her organization plenty of time to start looking for a replacement and allows my wife to transition her duties to a co-worker. If you are resigning under other conditions, you may wish to stick with the standard two-week notice.

Prepare a transition plan. My wife is currently putting the finishing touches on her continuity binder, which gives instructions for her major responsibilities, contact numbers, and other important information her replacement will need. This helps make your transition a smooth one and makes for minimal downtime when you leave. More on this topic below.

Never burn a bridge. You never know what the future will bring and burning bridges never helps anyone. You can offer constructive criticism about the company, but avoid blasting anyone. It might feel good, but it can only hurt things in the long run. A good time to share the reasons you are resigning is during your exit interview.

Here are more tips on quitting your job without burning bridges.

How to Write a Resignation Letter

Several years ago, I resigned from my job. At the time, I had been there for over two years. However, I was no longer growing professionally. After job hunting for a few months, I went on a series of job interviews, resulting in two job offers.

This article examines how I evaluated those job offers. After discussing the opportunities with my wife, I made a decision. I accepted one of the offers and resigned from my position.

Sample Resignation Letter

I believe your resignation letter should be simple, polite, and firm. The following is a clean version of my resignation letter (i.e. details removed):

Dear (Manager),

I hereby resign from my position as (insert job title). My last day of employment will be May 23, 2018, two weeks from today.

I thank you for the opportunities I have had with (company name) over the past two years. However, I decided to take another professional opportunity.

I have begun work on a transition plan and will be available to assist training my replacement. If there is anything I can do to make this transition go smoothly, please do not hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

Signature,

Typed Name

As you can see, this is short, simple, and effective. I told them when I was leaving, I thanked them for the opportunities I had, and I offered to assist in the transition.

There really isn’t any need to add more than this unless you are close to your manager and want to add a few minor personal touches. Even then, it is best to limit what you include. You never know who will read the letter.

What to Leave Out of Your Resignation Letter

You should not include any negative statements about the company, your client(s), your management, co-workers, salary, or other issues you have. You are already leaving the company, so there is no reason to be negative. The only thing negativity can do is burn bridges.

Dealing with Resignation Questions

My resignation caught my managers off guard. But it shouldn’t have. Several months prior to my resignation I wrote an article asking if it was time to change jobs? At that point, I had already talked to my management multiple times about a new position within the company and taking on increased levels of responsibility. I continued to look within the company for more opportunities… but there was nothing available.

When I handed my manager my resignation letter he sat in stunned silence for several moments. I could see him going through several emotions – disbelief, anger, etc. I just sat there in silence while he worked things out. He asked for more details as to why I was leaving, but I kept it to a minimum. I told him I still had to give my resignation letter to his boss and offered to speak to him after the weekend. I thought it best to let him gather his thoughts before further discussing my resignation.

Be Prepared to Receive a Counteroffer (And Why You Should Reject It)

Several years ago, I resigned from my job due to career stagnation and lack of job satisfaction. I approached my managers multiple times over the course 9 months or so to try and find something more challenging within the company. But I was told nothing was available.

The Counteroffer I Received

Shortly after tendering my resignation, my manager asked to see me. I closed the door to his office and sat down. He started off with a little small talk, “How is the transition plan coming?, I hate to see you go,” etc.

Then, he made his offer. “Ryan, we like the work you’ve been doing and we want you to stay. I sat down with my boss, and he agreed that you are a valuable asset to our company. After crunching numbers and getting corporate approval, we are prepared to make a counteroffer to keep you here.”

I didn’t give any response because I was already 99% sure that I wasn’t going to accept any counter offer they made. But I let him play his hand.

When my manager saw I wasn’t going to ask him how much the counter offer was, he proceeded. “As you know, things have been tight, but I was able to convince upper management that we needed to keep you here. They gave me the approval to offer you a 20% raise.”

His offer was met with silence from my end. He waited for my reaction, but I didn’t really have one. I was impressed they offered a 20% raise because that is very high for my current company. But, money doesn’t address the reason I looked for a new job in the first place. He looked at me with expectation in his eyes. I declined his offer because I am not interested in staying with my current company.

He asked what it would take to keep me, and I told him I had already made my commitment to another company. He pressed for more details about my new job, and I eventually told him the job offer I accepted came with a 32% raise. At this point, it didn’t bother me to share that information. Our professional community was fairly tight-knit, so I think they would have found out the rough numbers anyway. But I stressed that the money was not my driving factor for leaving – it was a combination of things, mostly career opportunity and growth.

He asked me to wait and he came back a few minutes later with his manager and the guy I ultimately report to. Long story short, they ended up offering to match the salary offer I received from my new company. I thanked them for their time and for the offer, but I stood firm. I was not accepting the counteroffer.

Why I Didn’t Accept Their Counteroffer

I tried for 9 months to get a different assignment within my company. I talked to managers within and outside my work stream (with my direct manager’s knowledge). However, the company is doing some restructuring and they asked me to be patient. I showed more than enough initiative and patience, and in the end, my company didn’t meet my professional needs.

What I don’t understand is why they suddenly perceived me as valuable as soon as I mentioned leaving? It was frustrating and I was a little upset. Then, I decided it didn’t matter. I was leaving either way.

There are other reasons I won’t accept their counteroffer.

  • I gave my commitment to my new company. I signed a job offer, and I don’t want to burn a bridge I just built.
  • Perception. I didn’t want my coworkers or managers thinking I was staying around until I could find a better opportunity.
  • My future with the company. Would accepting a counteroffer affect my chances at promoting or receiving raises? Or would I be perceived as a flight risk and relegated to menial tasks until they could find a replacement?
  • Would my role change? The main reason I wanted to leave was not money. While a 30% raise was certainly enough to make me consider leaving, that was not my main motivation. What they didn’t realize is that I never would have submitted my resume or application elsewhere if they had worked with me sooner. Even with the counteroffer they gave me, they didn’t address the underlying issues of job satisfaction and career growth.

Be Prepared for a Counteroffer

I had an idea my company would make a counteroffer, so I prepared for the offer before I even submitted my resignation. I made a list of all the issues I had with my current role. Reviewing these issues before accepting the new job offer and before turning in my resignation was very beneficial in helping me make my decision.

Not every company will make you a counter offer, but if they do, you should be prepared for it before you resign. Otherwise, you may decide to do something before thinking it through.

Accepting or declining a counter offer is a personal decision

In the end, you know what is best for you. But I strongly recommend being prepared for a counter offer before you even resign, then looking at all your options before making a decision to accept or decline a counter offer. Will the counter offer resolve the underlying issues that forced your resignation? Will money alone fix the problem? Do you need a flexible work schedule? How about a different role within the company? Only you know your situation, and only you can answer those questions.

What to Do Before Your Last Day of Work

Whether you a quitting your job or you have been laid off, there are many things to do before your last day of work. To make it easier, you can break things down into two categories – your professional relationships, and your work duties and administrative tasks. These tips apply to many situations and types of jobs, including whether you are resigning from your job, or whether you were laid off.

Manage Your Professional Relationships

Regardless of why you leave your job, it’s important to continue building your professional network. One of the worst things you can do is burn bridges. That’s why it’s essential to stick to the basics when giving an exit interview and keep everything on a professional level. These tips can help you move on gracefully.

Leave on good terms. Whether you are being laid off or you resigned to take another position, you should do your best to leave on good terms with your coworkers and former employer. You never know when they may be asked to provide a reference and you want to make sure you leave a good impression as you head out the door. This is especially important if you are resigning from your job, since under those circumstances, leaving is your choice.

Thank your coworkers and former manager. Sending a quick email to your teammates and manager thanking them for the time you had together can be a great way to leave on good terms. It’s important to personalize this message and not send out a form letter that you copied to twenty or more people. In your letter, try to think of something unique such as a project you worked together on, thank them for a time they helped you on a project. In the case of your manager, thank them for any promotions or times they gave you more responsibility or entrusted you with a major project. End your email with an offer to help your former co-workers if they ever need assistance.

Connect with former coworkers on LinkedIn. You can offer to connect with your former coworkers in the email you send them, or you can send a separate invitation to connect via the LinkedIn dashboard. If you use the LinkedIn dashboard, be sure not to use the default message LinkedIn provides. It is generic and shows you didn’t take the time to address people individually. Even if you know the person well, take a few moments to craft an individual invitation – it is more professional and your response rate will improve. After your former coworkers accept your invitation, take some time to endorse their LinkedIn profile. This will make it more likely they will return the favor and endorse your profile in return. Here are more tips for connecting on LinkedIn.

Ask for recommendations. Be careful when approaching people for recommendations. You want to make sure the people you ask know you and your performance well enough to share a detailed recommendation, and you also want to ensure people will give a positive recommendation. It’s a good idea to ask people for permission before giving their contact information as a reference. When doing this, be sure to let them know what type of reference you are looking for. For example, asking for a reference for a new job is much different than asking for an endorsement on LinkedIn. In this case, a LinkedIn endorsement is usually tied to a skill, whereas a job reference covers a more broad set of skills.

Projects, Files, Computers, and Your Office

Each job is different, so the following tips may or may not apply to your specific situation. These tips are primarily based on what I have done when I left my previous jobs. Take some time to think about your role and the steps you need to take when handing your job to another person, or what you may need to do to prepare your files and other documentation before you leave.

Create a continuity binder. If you are handing your job over to someone else, then be sure to document your tasks in a manner that can be easily followed. In my previous job, I created a Word document with screenshots that showed how to do each recurring task that had been assigned to me. These took some time to create, but were instrumental in getting my replacement up to speed before I left. This also helped me leave on good terms. This was for a position from which I had resigned to take a job in a similar industry. I was working in a relatively small professional community where it is easy to make or break a reputation. In this case, it was important I left on good terms.

Clearly label files, documents, and electronic data. My former job utilized shared drive to store our common files. Before I left I did some housekeeping and deleted all the obsolete files and standardized the naming conventions for everything else and included a key for the files in the continuity binder. This helped my replacement and former coworkers find everything when I left.

Remove personal files from your computer. Most companies have policies against using work computers for personal use, but many people do it anyway.  Be sure to clean out any personal files or documents you may have on your computer. You will be required to turn in your computer, and you don’t want to leave anything personal on it!

In addition to clearing out any personal files, you may wish to copy any non-proprietary work things you may have created. Be sure you aren’t taking anything that could get you in trouble! I’m mostly referring to any templates for PowerPoint slides, documents, spreadsheets, or anything you created that doesn’t have any company information on it. If in doubt, check with your company handbook for policy, or ask your manager. If you have doubts, don’t take it!

Think about privacy and security. You may also wish to clean out your computer’s temp files, browsing history, saved passwords, etc. Chances are your IT department will never look at that stuff, but I wouldn’t risk it, especially if you use common passwords anywhere else. When I left my last job I put all my work files in a clearly organized file, moved almost everything to the shared drive, and deleted everything else. Then I deleted temp files, browser history, cookies, etc, and defragged the computer. Most IT departments simply wipe computers clean and reassign them to someone else, but you don’t want to take any chances.

Clean out your office or cube a day or two before your last day. Every company is different. Some will want you to stay through the last day of your final two weeks (or the date the gave you if you were laid off), while other companies will let you go early. Depending on the nature of your work and your company’s policies, you may be let go within a day or two of you notifying the company you are leaving, or the company announces layoffs. The thing to remember is that you never how that last day(s) will go, and the last day will probably sneak up on you. Here are my experiences for the last two jobs I left:

The first job I resigned to take a job with a competitor. I worked the final two weeks up to the last minute so I could maintain chargeability and continue earning the company money. However, My role was reduced to creating the continuity binder I mentioned above, and training my replacement.

The next job I resigned was under different circumstances – instead of leaving for a competitor, I left to become self-employed. I had already created a continuity binder, and since I was salaried and leaving on good terms (i.e. not going to a competitor), they let me go at noon the day before my last day.

We went out to lunch as a team, and when I returned, my manager told me I could turn in my security badge and computer. This caught me off-guard, but it didn’t bother me since I had everything in order and was ready to go. Keep in mind this may happen to you as well, as some companies let people go early in order to prevent them from doing anything at the last minute (such as taking files, information, etc.). In other words, this is usually to protect the company, not give you an extra day!

Benefits, benefits, benefits. Many employers offer a variety of benefits including health care, 401k plans, life insurance, long term disability insurance, and more. Be sure to schedule a few minutes to speak with your HR department to understand your benefits, if any, when you leave. Depending on your company policies and the circumstances of your departure, you may be able to negotiate an extra month or two of employer-sponsored health insurance benefits. Otherwise, you may need to set up COBRA health care coverage when you leave to ensure you don’t have a break in health care coverage.

There is a lot to cover in just a few days. If you have a full two weeks before your last day, you can space things out a bit. Otherwise, you may need to push through this list quickly.

Other Things to Do After Leaving Your Job

Leaving your job is often a time of mixed emotions.  The feelings can be even more mixed when you are dealing with a layoff or other unforeseen event. Since not everyone can plan their exit, these tips may make your transition easier.

Update Your Resume

You should update your resume as soon as you know you will be leaving your job because your recent accomplishments and job duties are still fresh on your mind. Having an updated resume will be helpful in finding a new job in the near term, or if you are taking a long break, will make it easier to step back into your job search. Use these tips to create an excellent resume.

Decide What to Do with Your 401k or Other Retirement Accounts

Most companies offer a 401k or similar retirement plan, and it is the last thing many people think about when leaving their company is their retirement plan. At least until their HR rep breezes through your options at lightning speed. Basically, you have the following options:

  • Leave your 401k at your former company.
  • Transfer the 401k to your new company (if you have a new job lined up).
  • Rollover your 401k into an IRA or another eligible retirement account.
  • Withdraw the funds in your 401k. (may be subject to early withdrawal penalties).

In most cases, people will be better off rolling over their 401k into an IRA or a 401k at their new company. Here are more tips about what to do with your 401k when you leave your company.

File for Unemployment Benefits

If you were laid off, the first thing you want to do is file for unemployment benefits. Most states require that new unemployment filers wait one week before receiving benefits, so the sooner you get the process started, the more quickly you can start receiving benefits. Check with your state employment bureau for more details.

Never Burn a Bridge

You will likely have an exit interview with your manager or HR before your final day with the company. This will give everyone (including you) time to gather their thoughts about your resignation. This may be a good time to bring up the issues mentioned above (company, your client(s), your management, co-workers, salary, etc.), but remember to keep everything civil. There is no point for blame. Offer constructive criticism and move on.

I don’t anticipate returning to my current (and soon to be former) place of employment. However, you never know what situations may arise, or who you may run into in the future.

It never pays to burn a bridge – especially if you work in a closely knit professional community, such as the community where I work. In my professional community, most high-level managers know each other and word travels quickly. I even know a guy how resigned his job, said a few choice words to his former employer and when he showed up to his new job, found out it was no longer there for him. It turns out the manager he cursed was an old military buddy of his new boss. His employment contract was conditional, and apparently, he broke the conditions.

Resign gracefully. It is best for everyone involved.

If you handle everything properly, hopefully, you’ll be able to leave your company on good terms and keep some of those relationships that you’ve built.



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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Trent Hamm says

    Any company worth its salt will have some sort of exit interview so they can understand why you’re leaving and use that information to improve their organization. Participate in this and be honest – it’s the best thing you can do.

  2. Ryan says

    Trent, it’s already scheduled. 🙂

    I plan on being very honest in my exit interview. I’ve been honest with my management for the past several months, and made it clear to them I was looking for more professional opportunity. I’ll be sure to share how it goes. I’m sure this will be an interesting week.

  3. Llama Money says

    Whether I would participate in an exit interview depends on the reason for my leaving. If it was just lack of room to grow, then absolutely. But if the work conditions were simply vile and management was horrid, I would simply decline the interview. No matter how horrible the job, you never know when you might need to come back. So rather than lie my ass off during the exit interview, I would just decline it.

  4. No Debt Plan says

    Congrats on the new position. Exit interviews are crucial if an organization is going to figure out how to keep its best people.

  5. [email protected] says

    My company doesn’t really do exit interviews per se, but they send out a questionnaire that you mail back in. What’s funny is that many, many people are very honest in the questionnaire and only THEN does upper management take notice. You have to quit to get your voice heard.

    Frustrating.

  6. Frugal Dad says

    I had to resign from my last position over the telephone because my boss was not in the same work location (I know…strange, isn’t it?). She was shocked and quite upset that I did it over the phone. I explained that I did not want to hand it to anyone above her locally, and I did not want to do it over email. If I waited until I saw her again I could not work an adequate notice. I figured phone and a follow up email with the resignation attached was the next best thing. It wasn’t as graceful as I would have liked, but the odd work arrangement forced my hand.

  7. deepali says

    Great advice. I confess than when I quit my last job, I burned some bridges, but I was young, and it was a complete career transition, so I’m not too worried. My internal transfer at my current place did not go as smoothly as I would have liked, but I think we are all ok with it now. I guess I’ll see further down the line. 🙂

  8. Lisa says

    I’ve been on both ends, the quitter and the “quittee” — I must say, if your manager didn’t see it coming that’s really testament to his/her failure to really “read” the employee. When I was a manager and had people quit, I pretty much knew they were ready to move on. Sometimes it wasn’t a good fit for either of us, and other times it was not the employee’s fault, but because of circumstances beyond my control — ie: higher level management making things difficult for my department.

    On the other end, I am self-employed now and so glad that I never burned any bridges, though the temptation was always there to give them a piece of my mind! Some of my old employees, employers and contacts are part of my client roster now and I am so glad I went with the less is more strategy in my exit interviews!

  9. Ryan says

    Jason,

    I think you did the right thing. I resigned via a voice message once because my boss left early for the weekend and didn’t tell anyone. I stopped by his office and he was out, so I left my resignation letter on his desk and called his cell, which went straight to voice mail. There wasn’t anything else I could do at that point but leave a message. It definitely wasn’t what I had planned, but there wasn’t much else I could do.

  10. MoneyNing says

    Good luck on your interview and new job! It’s always a good move forward once you decided and I’m sure you will make the best out of it.

    It’s very hard for someone to leave the comfortable and venture out even if everything is telling him so I applaud the bold move!

  11. fathersez says

    I have burned my fair share of bridges. Now I am back (after a gap of about 15 years) to a former boss from whom I had also resigned not too gracefully.

    Your advice is correct. It always better to be civil.

    As someone said, on the way down we pass all those whom we passed on the way up.

    PS: Have you told everyone about your choice of Company A or B. I may have missed that!

  12. PT says

    Great advice. No matter how ready you are it’s always awkward to resign. More so if you have an insecure boss that takes it personally. I hope the move works out in your favor.

  13. Dividend Growth Investor says

    Wow, i am learning so much from your blog. I definitely enjoy the way you take your readers inside your mind and decision making process.

    It’s funny though that at most companies they appreciate their “most important assets” when these assets are ready to move to a different place. To me the word “restructuring” from the old company sounds scary, so I totally agree with your decision. If you had stayed, sure you would have made more money, but then you will be the first one to go if restructuring starts again, since you are highly paid now.
    Even if they didn’t let u go at future restructurings, your company had shown you a lot that they are inflexible.

  14. Ryan says

    DGI,

    The way I see it is that if I am going through these situations, I’m sure others are as well. So I may as well share what I’ve learned with others. I’m glad you are learning from my site. 🙂

    I wrote “restructuring” but they aren’t really doing layoffs in my city. They are changing some of the ways they do business, so I guess I could have been a little more clear about that.

    But, yes, if they were to go through layoffs, I think people who have shown the willingness to leave would be more likely to be laid off first.

  15. KMC says

    I don’t want to say “never,” but it’s almost never a good idea to accept a counter-offer as far as I’m concerned. I don’t remember the exact statistic, but some very large fraction of people who do so end up moving on (one way or the other) within six months.

    Congratulations, Ryan, on the new job and thanks for writing about it. It’s been fascinating reading.

  16. fathersez says

    You did right.

    You have given them 9 months and only now they come up with this. For sure it must be with heavy hearts. Unlikely to be good in the long term.

    You are right in keeping your commitment to your new employer.

    Cheers

  17. mapgirl says

    Interesting. I left my last company, but because I had a really good relationship with mgmt, I told them not to bother with a counteroffer because it would be wasting their time. My mgr knew I was leaving b/c they couldn’t grow me technically in the company without a move to Texas. He also knew that he couldn’t get me more educational training from the company because there was little money for it. My manager did the best he could for me over the years, but long-term he knew my current company would be better for my career.

    Sometimes, it’s worth it to have your company make a counteroffer. At one point during that last job, they did make a counteroffer when I received a job offer in Seattle and I accepted. But I dislike having making people make a counteroffer without a conversation about what that offer needs to contain to make me actually stay. Since my boss couldn’t do anything for me that would make me stay, we decided that counteroffering was a waste of the company’s time.

    I totally agree that burning bridges is bad. I’ve done that with hardly any regrets, but I am much more careful about it now because I have a lot more at stake as my career grows.

  18. Frugal Dad says

    Ryan, I wondered if you may be faced with a counter-offer decision, and it seems you made the right move. I’m glad my article influenced you in some small way.

    At my last employer we had several people play the “I’ve got other opportunities” hand to force corporate into making counter-offers. More times than not, it backfired as word got out and their peers lost respect for them.

    In your case, the reasons for departure were not entirely salary-based – you were looking for new challenges and new opportunities. It’s hard to counter that if you’ve done nothing to grow someone professionally over the last nine months to a year.

  19. jim says

    Good decision not to take the counter offer, I would never accept a counter offer if I was leaving… especially given your experience. Congratulations!

  20. FFB says

    I hate that companies do this! Why did it take so long to figure out you were valuable? If you are so valuable then you needed to be compensated a long time ago. I know money isn’t the only consideration but it does go a ways in a company showing how they value you.

  21. Ryan says

    KMC,

    I agree. Almost never is the best way to put it. Thanks for the congrats. And I thought your job situation was pretty good reading too. The internet makes for a great resource sometimes! 🙂

  22. Ryan says

    Mapgirl,

    Your situation sounds interesting, and it’s good that your management recognized your need to grow professionally.

    I think for my situation, I was earning them a lot of money in my current role and it was easier to keep me where I was than to let me branch out. I understand a business’s main objective is to maximize their earnings, but now they not only lose me in that position, but they lose me from the company. It’s too late for them to do anything about it now though.

  23. Ryan says

    Frugal Dad,

    I’ve seen people play the “I’ve got another offer” card before too, and sometimes it backfires horribly. I’ve even seen the aftermath of a manager look the employee in the eye and say thank you for your service, gather your stuff and leave. The company was faced with cutbacks and he made their mind up for them. Very ugly situation!

    As for me, money is important, but it wasn’t the driving force behind my leaving, so at that point there wasn’t much my company could do to keep me.

  24. mapgirl says

    Ryan,

    My manager was an old co-worker from another company and we’re pretty good friends. Our next level manager had also known us from the prior job as vendors and knew our value. He knew he could only keep me for so long and was very gracious when I told him where I was going and why. Sometimes, it’s easy to read the chips when they fall. Those two managers were great about counteroffering when I was faced with the first opportunity to leave because there was definitely room for negotiation. Unfortunately for them, there really wasn’t any room left the second time.

    I suppose I was lucky. Later my direct manager asked if I really would have left for Seattle if the counter had not come through. I told him I didn’t really know. I had called movers and gotten estimates. My best friend from college offered a basement room rent-free in Seattle so I could sell my condo in Virginia without financial pressure. I did all the things I was supposed to do, but something just didn’t feel right. It’s a dangerous game to play, but I guess a person really has to ask themselves why they were looking at other opportunities and if they could really change their current situation. I had done the best I could and though I could have stayed at my old job very happily for another year or two, I was looking at 5-10 years down the road and when viewed from that perspective, everyone agreed I did the right thing and wished me luck.

  25. [email protected] says

    I’m glad I could be one small part of your decision making process. You obviously were valuable all along, they just didn’t realize it. Make me wonder what would’ve happened f you told your old company that they doubled your salary! LOL! That would set some wheels to spinning!

  26. plonkee says

    I’m glad you didn’t accept the counter-offer. It wouldn’t have made any sense given that what you weren’t happy with was the professional opportunities – they aren’t going to magic them out of thin air.

    Everyone I’ve worked with who has stayed after a counter-offer has left within a year. Almost never sounds like a good standard to use.

  27. deepali says

    The counter offer is pretty much a requirement, and your company loses nothing in making it. And if you accept, they win, because it’s more expensive to hire someone to replace you, than to pay you more.
    Still, glad you didn’t take it, and it’s too bad they didn’t realize what it would have taken to make you stay 9 months ago!

  28. David says

    You should have taken the counter-offer…I mean, who wouldn’t want to work somewhere that you were only deemed valuable and worth more money once you said you were leaving? 😉

  29. Kirk says

    Good for you, Ryan. You made the right and noble decision.

    Accepting a counter offer isn’t a bad idea if the company shows you a path that matches your desire, but this company wrongly thought throwing cash at you would be enough.

  30. Ryan says

    Kirk,

    Yeah. The situation is that I was highly profitable in my current role and I think I was making them so much money that it would have hurt the bottom line to move me. I mean, they could have still given me a 30% raise and remained very profitable. I guess the bottom line is now officially hurt!

    But that wasn’t my intention. My intention was growing professionally, and my company was not willing to afford me that opportunity. So I made my own opportunity. 😉

  31. MITBeta @ Don't Feed The Alligators says

    My last job was with a 25,000 person company. 15 of us (in a 50 person group) left over the course of about 1.5 years. Management and HR never conducted a single exit interview. It took me a year to get my unused vacation pay settled. Management eventually conducted an investigation into the rash of turnovers and concluded that nothing was wrong. But then, what evidence did they have?

    It boggles my mind to this day…

  32. Ryan says

    MITBeta,

    There are quite a few companies that don’t conduct exit interviews. But I think that if almost 30% of your workforce turns over in under 2 years there are some problems that need to be resolved. The thing is – many times these aren’t pay issues, but things that can be resolved before they grow large enough that workers just decide to leave. It really is unfortunate because companies are costing themselves hundreds of millions of dollars annually by not listening to their employees.

  33. Pinyo says

    That’s absolutely the right thing to do. In 99% of the cases, it’s better to walk at that point.

  34. ideal4investors says

    You did the right thing not taking the counter!

    The time to take the counter offer is before you resign. You go into your boss and tell them you have another offer of X (more salary, flex time, job title, whatever the incentive was to leave). Usually, the boss will ask you when you need to make your decision by and they talk to HR. You usually can get what you want. Of course, you should only do this if you want to remain at your current job. You do not want to take the counter after you made the announcement to your colleagues, because it leads to gossip, envy, etc.

  35. Writer's Coin says

    There is always an urge to go out with “a bang” and say things you’ve felt for a long time. You’re right: don’t do it. Never burn a bridge no matter how good it’ll feel right then. No matter how much they deserve it.

  36. sharon wrigley says

    i handed in my resignation letter by 4oclock that afternoon my job had been advertised in the job centre the next day someone was interviewed and taken on .Does any one know are employers allowed to do this ive still not worked my weeks notice out yet

  37. Ryan says

    Sharon,

    In the US, many jobs are “at will” employment, meaning the job can be terminated at any time by the employee or the employer. However, it is common for the employee to give 2 weeks notice in the US, and if the company terminates employment, they usually have to give a reason and may be required to offer some form of compensation such as a severance package or be entitled to unemployment benefits. As for your particular case, or in other countries, I cannot say.

  38. Ralph says

    What I don’t understand is why they suddenly perceived me as valuable as soon as I mentioned leaving? It’s frustrating and I was a little upset until I decided it doesn’t matter. I am leaving.

    I wished you had asked them that. Even if the answer isn’t something you really care about it may have planted the see in their minds that keeping quality personel isn’t about being reactive to their desire to leave.

    One word of advice though for anyone who is considering the advice from ideal4investors above; I work as an adjunct to the main MIS department at my company. The moment any MIS employee or adjunct employee tells their supervisor of another job offer, they are escorted out of the building and all access to the corporate infrastucture is cut off. Just something to think about if you are a professional who plays a role involving confidential corporate information.

  39. Ryan says

    Ralph,

    Good point about the MIS jobs, and that also applies to other jobs as well. Some employees who deal with proprietary info are on a short leash when it comes to things like this. It is easier to kick someone out immediately and find a replacement compared to trying to reverse the amount of damage that could potentially be done by a disgruntled employee…

  40. Cathy says

    I have resigned my position after 23 years. I have 24 days of accrued vacation. Does my company have to pay me for that time?

  41. Gates VP says

    Hey Cathy, the general answer is Yes.

    However, there are several caveats here. You’ll have to check your employment contract and it depends on the manner in which you accrued the vacation time. Was it one day / year for 24 years? Or was it all collected in the last year (i.e.: you get 6 weeks vacation and didn’t use it all)

    Either way, vacation time is money you’ve earned so it generally has to be paid out. There may be some obscure exception, but it’s certainly not the norm.

  42. Gates VP says

    Lots of great links and all kinds of neat ideas and lists of reasons “not to accept a counter-offer”.

    But I think the reason is simple. You don’t want to work for anyone who feels that the counter-offer is a good idea. Sure it’s an ego boost for you, but it’s really desperate management decision. Do you want to bank your future on desperate management?

    The game is simple, an employee generates X revenue and the company pays that employee Y, where Y is X minus expenses and a risk-adjusted profit margin. In fact, it’s a lot like the stock market (actually, it is the stock market, but that’s a different discussion). Either way, the goal of the employee is to maximize the hourly yield for the work they’re willing to do, they want to maximize Y. The goal of the employer is to maximize profit, they want to maximize X and minimize Y.

    The problem of course is risk. If you “over-minimize” Y, then you drain X (lower productivity) or you lose X all together (employee leaves). In the grand scheme, employers have been doing a lot to minimize Y: reduction in pension, reduction in health care allowances, no more 20-year gold watches or 10-year sabbaticals, etc. But many employers still insist on making some silly decisions with Y.

    In Ryan’s case, the competition was willing to pay 30% more Y. Assuming that Ryan could generate an equivalent X, the company felt that Ryan was a small enough risk to pay him 30% more.

    That’s a very big difference in evaluation. That’s the same thing as me thinking a stock is fairly-priced at $100 when you think it’s fairly-priced at $130. Of course, we hear about lots of 20 & 30-somethings jumping jobs to make these types of pay raises.

    There are typically three reasons this happens:
    1. The company is doing poorly and cannot afford to pay the employees more. Or they’re likewise not generating money from having the employee around.
    2. The company is trying to extract as much profit as possible from the employee or using the employee’s profits to fund a different venture.
    3. The company really has no clue (typically poor management). Any/all of: they don’t know the market rates, they don’t know which employees are generating money or losing money, they don’t have a growth plan, they don’t have a succession plan, they don’t understand what the employee really wants…etc

    In a case like Ryan’s I’m sensing a heavy dose of #2, with a little #3.

    What I don’t understand is why they suddenly perceived me as valuable as soon as I mentioned leaving?

    It’s up to management to manage and mitigate risks and they really blew this one. (And remember the profits they make are their “risk-adjusted” piece of the pie) Not only did they underestimate your value by 30%, they also underestimated the value of their counter-offer by another 10%. That they would even go back to “up the ante” again means that they were still suffering from a #2 brain fart.

    So back to the original thesis. You don’t want to work for these guys.

    If they suffer from #1, then they’re likely laying people off and even if you don’t lose your job, you won’t be getting a good pay raise. If they suffer from #2 and they’re underpaying by 30% (or more), then they’re not showing a lot of foresight. If they suffer from #3, then you’re resting the fate of your next raise, your next promotion and even your next paycheck on the back of someone who doesn’t have a clue.

    You don’t want to be working for these guys. You want to be working for proactive managers. You want people who have vision, who can see problems before they arrive. You want people who lead, people who hire more staff before everyone gets too busy, people who give pay raises before you have to ask for them, send you to training before you need it.

    So if your employer makes a counter-offer, they are not one of these people. They’re one of the hordes of reactive managers. Just because they’ve finally realized they’re behind and can afford to pay you more doesn’t mean that they’ve changed their ways and stopped being bad managers.

    So don’t accept a counter-offer, you don’t want to work for the type of people who make counter-offers.

  43. Dough Roller says

    She won’t regret the decision! My wife has been a stay at home mom for 15 years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And the never burn a bridge point is so important. Having been in the workforce for nearly 20 years, it’s amazing how often you cross paths with folks from past jobs.

    • Ryan says

      DR: Very true. I’ve known a couple people who burned bridges and unfortunately, word got around after the fact and even though they went on to other companies, it hurt their reputation in the local business community.

  44. Miranda says

    I’m still on good terms with people from old jobs. It came in handy for letters of recommendation, and it’s good to have contacts. At my last “real” job, I gave a month’s notice when we were moving. I worked hard to ensure a smooth transition — since my predecessor hadn’t bothered to help out at all.

  45. Adam says

    Very good advice for those who have found a better job. Seems like employees take all the right precautions to make sure everything is smooth. While some employers will drop you at 4pm on a Friday without any notice. The ones that are respectful and give your severance are worth working for.

  46. Kristen says

    I have remained on good terms with all of my previous employers. I think as long as you handle a resignation professionally, no matter your reason for leaving, most companies will respect your decision. And you’re right about not burning bridges. I know several moms who left companies to take care of children, but ended up going back to the companies they left years down the road when their children were school age, and they were ready to go back to work.

  47. Enrique S says

    It’s never a good idea to leave on bad terms. Just because a job doesn’t work out, or your relationship with your boss deteriorates over time, doesn’t mean you should risk ruining your reputation. When you’re fed up with a job, you have a recourse: you can leave. Nothing is holding you there forever. Vote with your feet. You’ll be doing both yourself and the company a favor.

    Ryan,
    Congratulations to you and your wife on your upcoming addition!

  48. PT Money says

    Congrats on being able to resign peacefully and dedicate that time to your family. We did the same thing and it’s working out great.

  49. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad says

    The approach you have outlined is not only professional– it is the classy way to handle it.

  50. plonkee says

    All good advice, although I admit that I was surprised that she resigned. I guess we have much better maternity benefits over here. If you’re planning on being a SAHM, then you’re much better off financially not resigning until the end of your maternity leave, as the first 9 months are partially paid (the final 3 months are unpaid). If you resign, you’ll miss out on this money. And before anyone say that it’s expensive to companies, or whatever, it’s a level playing field for everyone, and more than half of all new mothers return to work either part-time or full-time.

    • Ryan says

      Plonkee: We thought about that, but once we found out that her maternity leave was unpaid, we decided it was best to give her company plenty of notice so they could find a replacement for her. It’s better to leave on good terms and help the company make the transition. 🙂

  51. Ben says

    congrats to your wife. My wife decided to stay at home with our kids and just last night she told me it’s the best decision she’s ever made… other than marrying me of course!

    seriously though, that’s awesome that she’ll have time to spend with the baby.

  52. ScrapperMom says

    I had a similar experience but had hoped to be able to continue with my company after my children were born on a part-time or WAH basis. Fortunately an old friend contacted me just two weeks before I was set to return to work and offered me an opportunity to work at home indefinitely part time. My boss was very understanding, as he was not able and/or willing? to let me work from home for the length of time that would have been agreeable to me so understood my desire to jump at the present opportunity. His wife stayed home with both their children when they were young.

    As you may have noticed in my other comment, I have since been laid off. My new boss was not able to maintain the level of work we had enjoyed for almost 2 years and had to close his business. Fortunately, our industry is busy and he was able to get a job with an old employer. I could probably also get one (40hrs in the office), but at this point I am happy to stay home and we are able to live on one income.

    I have maintained a good relationship with my former boss (prior to having children) and have set up a contract to work for them on a part time basis. I have yet to pursue that work while the 2nd is so young and I am busy getting use to being a mom of 2. Thankfully there are some options if I find the time or desire to do some work in my field with old jobs, bosses and companies. Contacts are great to have and I have found that people who know you are much more willing to give you the freedom to work at home. Luckily in my field it is easy to work from home (if you can find the time!)

  53. Dave says

    Pouring your heart out in exit interviews is an absolute waste of time and depending on what you say it can be detrimental to your future if you happen to cross paths with your old employer. It’s naive to suggest that HR or the employer will turn over a new leaf: “Pennington as a result of your valuable insight into the errors of our ways were going to institute changes immediately – so that we don’t lose anymore great employees such as yourself!” Not! It doesn’t work like that, they just wanna know what’s in your head. Stick to the script; be polite, professional, and give as few details as possible. You’ve already won; you’re leaving.

    • Ryan says

      Dave, I agree, one shouldn’t get emotional. The last exit interview I gave was similar to the script you mentioned – polite, professional, and quick. But then again, my managers knew exactly why I was leaving. I had repeatedly asked for a change of assignment and finally decided to make my own change.

      Some companies, especially some smaller ones, make better use of the exit interview than other companies and try to make changes. But, yeah, it’s naive to think one can change the ways of a Fortune 500 company just because you had a bad experience.

  54. Kristen says

    The only thing I would add is to make yourself a contact list of people who you dealt with who might be helpful to you after you leave the company. I realize some professions have “no compete” clauses or rules that forbid this. I’m not suggesting anything sneaky. The last job I left doesn’t compete at all with my current field, yet I’ve found quite a few contacts from my old job that have been helpful in my new career. I did take some names, addresses and phone numbers with me that have proven helpful over time.

    • Ryan says

      Networking can be a huge benefit to your new position. I meet with former coworkers for lunch every other month or so. It’s a great way to keep in touch and keep current in the industry. I should probably even do it more often. 😉

  55. Miranda says

    I think a lot of people forget how important it is to make the transition smooth for your company. However, it is a good idea to show that you are leaving on a high note, and that you are still a team player. Plus, it makes it easier to go back to your old company for networking. Another thing to consider when leaving your job is to go over how your financial situation is going to change — and what you are going to do about it. I’ve been impressed as I read about your and your wife’s journey toward making it possible for her to stay home. Good luck to you both!

  56. MLR says

    Th continuity binder is HUGE. It shows good faith and will set you apart from your co-workers as a great employee.

    The job I currently have had no such thing and it was a nightmare taking over.

    Since then I have been continuously building a binder by adding contacts/instructions to it when I feel I need to.

  57. Rosa says

    Get *personal*, not just work, contact information for people you might use as references later – if they just stop answering their work phone or email, it may be hard to track people down.

    Especially with a new baby, it can be hard to keep track of old acquaintances. I came out of an industry that is/was imploding and my old work friends are scattered – which means many of them are very helpful for job referrals, if I can find them. But when I was first looking for a job after a few years as a SAHM, I had to spend weeks tracking people down and seeing who they were still in contact with until I got to the really useful refs (old bosses & special project teammates).

  58. Gloria Wadzinski says

    Doing an exit interview is a little like talking to the police. It isn’t done for your benefit. You’re never going to hear, “Anything you say or do can be used in your defense.” The information shared will not benefit you; you’re already gone. The information can only hurt you by being included in your permanent record.

  59. karina says

    I thought it would be fair to give my employer my 2 weeks resignation letter today, I work as a hair stylist and just recently decided that I would not be coming back after the baby was born. I handed them the letter today, notifying them that the last day of work would be in 2 weeks and they told me that I couldn’t finish out the two weeks and I needed to pack up my stuff… Am I eligible for unemployment for the two weeks I was willing to work?? I can’t believe they let me go after 6 years of working there with no conflicts… Help anyone??!!
    Thanks..

    • Ryan says

      Karina, you should be eligible for unemployment once you were let go from your job, since it was they who let you go. I recommend you contact your state employment bureau right away about filing unemployment benefits. Best of luck with this situation and your new baby!

  60. Rebeca says

    Hi there,

    Today I went on a panel interview, my thoughts are that the interview went great, towards the end of the interview the General Manager asked me how much notice I would have to give my employer, I told them that my boss would expect me to give a 30 day notice. She said it wouldn’t be a problem. However, I have an uneasy feeling, just as we all got up to say our goodbye’s she told me that she still had 2 other candidates and she would not have an answer for two more weeks. I was very professional and relaxed however her final words have created a doubt for me. I would like to know what the thoughts of other are, do you think I am being paranoid or jumping the gun?

  61. christina says

    Wahhh!!!!

    Be happy you even had a job…. It’s greedy people who think they are invaluable or deserve better. We work hard and if we are lucky we can retire. Most people now days will never. Why do people think our economy got in this situation its because greedy people getting paid too much.be glad someone is even willing to keep you around. Your lucky just for that. People stop being greedy.

    • Ryan Guina says

      I was grateful I had a job, and I was even more grateful for the other job offer I received. The reason I turned down the counter-offer had nothing to do with greed or feeling invaluable – it had everything to do with wanting a more challenging job and a different work environment. I had the offer in hand, and I accepted it. There is nothing greedy about seeking to improve oneself. That is a highly desirable characteristic which many employers seek. On the flip side, not wanting to improve oneself is a red flag which many employers seek to avoid.

      As for the economy, there are many complicated reasons the economy went bad, but I don’t think it had much to do with employees earning too much. It had more to do with poor lending practices and greed at the corporate level, which filtered down into the masses with people spending more money than they could afford. But that has nothing to do with earnings, it has everything to do with spending – those are two distinctly different things.

    • Gates VP says

      It’s greedy people who think they are invaluable or deserve better.

      OK, so if a medical doctor is earning minimum wage and feels they deserve better than a burger flipper that makes them greedy? From a perspective of social good, it’s pretty clear that doctors carry a relatively high value, but that hardly makes them greedy.

      I’m pretty sure your logic only holds in very heavy-handed socialist societies. Even people within communist societies would afford a doctor more intrinsic value than a food assembler.

      …our economy got in this situation its because greedy people getting paid too much…

      Look, there were definitely greedy people involved in the chain of the recent financial collapse, but it was clearly much more than that. If anything, the key problem was the poor incentivization of people in general. We paid lots of people lots of money to do things that were not necessarily in our best interests.

      But it’s not necessarily a matter of greed. Lots of people just did exactly what they were paid to do. It simply turns out they were being paid to do the wrong things.

      … be glad someone is even willing to keep you around…

      The goal of employment is not subservience. Employment is a partnership where people jump on a team together and make something happen together. The money is just there as a representation of the division of skills and risk.

      But you are in no way a slave to your boss. You are making your boss money. You deliver some product/service that they resell and that makes them money. But this isn’t slavery, you’re both free to end the relationship and go somewhere else.

  62. Serena says

    What if because of extraneous circumstances, a person left their job without notice for two weeks. They don’t want to return to the job but they would like to patch up a potentially burnt bridge. How should that person go about doing that?

    • Ryan Guina says

      There are many factors to consider in this case. You should make an attempt to meet with your manager in person to explain the situation, and be sure to turn in all badges, computers, equipment, or other work related items, and clean out your desk, office or cube if you have one. It would also be a good idea to offer to walk your teammates through your progress if you were in the middle of any projects. I think the most important factor here is honesty – explain that you had to leave for unavoidable personal reasons. It will be helpful to mention that you aren’t jumping ship for a similar job with a competitor. I’m sure there are other factors to consider based on the individual circumstances of the job, the departure, etc.

  63. Jake Erickson says

    These are great tips. I totally agree on never burning bridges. Just like you said you never know when you’ll need that relationship in the future. I think it’s a really nice gesture to create a binder of your duties or training a co-worker to do them because then your former team won’t have to figure everything out themselves. It may be obvious, but if it’s you that’s deciding to leave you need to give your employer at least a two week notice.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jake, I always gave my employers a two week notice, but they don’t always do that when they lay people off. When I left my last job, I actually stayed about 6 weeks longer than I originally wanted to so I could help wrap up a large project. I was resigning to be self-employed, so I had the freedom to set my own departure date.

  64. Michelle says

    This is a great list that I know will come in handy. Don’t leave on a bad note is always important! I know of someone who quit by leaving a note on her manager’s desk and didn’t give any notice. A couple of months later she wanted to use this same manager as a reference, and of course that didn’t go well.

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