Maybe when you were ringing in 2006, you silently hoped that at the same time next year you would be toasting your success in a new job. You fantasized about how good it would feel to go to a job that you liked, a job where you had career promise and did interesting, challenging work. You thought about what a pleasure it would be to go to work at the end of the holiday versus trying to contract some “inconvenient” stomach flu that would let you prolong the holidays a bit.
Read it here, read it now: Your destiny is up to you. If you want a new job, then search and network for a new job. You need to treat finding a new job like it’s a job, or it will be incredibly difficult to make significant progress in a short period of time.
With that said, this newsletter is about correctly giving your notice to your current employer. I’m sure it’s something each and every one of you who are reading this has dreamed about at one time or another. As satisfying as it would be to just tell them to “Get Lost!”, you need to maintain a high level of professionalism throughout. Don’t assume that you’ll never see these people again. Unless you are planning on relocating to a space station, assume that either you will run into someone from the company again, or that you will end up meeting (and possibly interviewing with down the road) someone who knows someone at your current employer. This world is too small to burn any bridges.
After you have accepted an offer from your new company, (and yes, it’s better to get an offer letter in writing), look at your calendar. Most employers ask that you give them two weeks’ notice before walking out the door for good. If you have any unused accrued vacation, don’t plan on including that as part of your two weeks. No matter how heinous the company has been to you, it is unprofessional. You want to always take the high road. Figure out what day of the week you plan to give your notice, and consider when you are starting your new job. All new employers will want you to start immediately, but will respect you when you say you need to give appropriate notice to your current company. If possible, try to work in at least one buffer day between the old and new jobs to give yourself a clean break. Mark off 10 working days from the day that you’re giving your notice to your last day, and pencil that in your calendar.
What you’re going to do now is to write a resignation letter. This does not need, at all, to be a piece of paper where you outline all the terrible things they have done to you over the years, and why you are completely justified in jumping ship. This letter simply states that you have enjoyed working there, that you have learned a lot from the experience, met some truly quality people, but you feel that the time has come for you to move on. Feel free to plagiarize large parts of that last sentence if you feel that you can’t choke out something civil. You should also state what you expect your last day to be, what your unused, accrued vacation balance is (if you know it), and that you would like to be compensated for those days. If you would like them to extend your health benefits for a few months through the COBRA program, then mention that too.
For those who may not know, COBRA is a program under which you can ask to be included in the same group health insurance rate until your new employers’ coverage kicks in (typically a 90-day waiting period). You will be paying for this insurance yourself, but it’s better than not having any coverage and needing it.
If there are any other outstanding issues, consider if they are things that you want to commit to in writing. There isn’t a real guideline for what to include in a resignation letter, but typically the briefer the better. You don’t want to put anything in writing that you’ll end up regretting committing to later. The purpose of the letter is to tell your soon-to-be-former employer that you won’t be there anymore starting on a certain date, and that it’s been a great ride. You can mention health coverage if you want to (or simply state that you would like more information about COBRA), but if you are not sure when your new coverage kicks in you don’t even have to mention it.
Your HR or Finance director can talk to about it before you leave. You can raise the issue about unused, accrued vacation in your letter and state that you expect to be compensated for the unused time. However, you might want to double check your company’s employee handbook first to confirm how the situation is handled. Remember that your vacation time that you will get paid for is what you have accrued (or earned) to date-not the full time that you receive over the course of a year.
Above all, be polite and understanding to your old employer. They probably had other things on their schedule for the next two weeks than posting your job and conducting interviews, and are now not looking forward to the prospect. Be as helpful as you can so that when you leave they can honestly say that they would hire you again or recommend you to someone else. Moving on with your career is the best revenge of all.
Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for 15+ years and a career coach for 6+ years through her company Red Inc.
What’s her motto? “Let’s Get Your A** A JOB!” Her resumes get interviews, her interview coaching gets clients to the next level, and her innovative ideas can move you in a new direction.
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