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Quit your job but not your career

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In a matter of weeks, Farage, Hodgson, Cameron and Evans all resigned. They’ve said “I quit” in a variety of ways and for different reasons and aside from all having stated that they’ve been on “a journey” the similarities end there!

Your resignation is unlikely to be the focus of a media storm but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to give it careful consideration. Now is unlikely to be the time for the truth. Remember that your job resignation is part of a formal process, don’t get caught up in the emotion and regret it later.

Sleep on it

Don’t quit just because you’ve had a bad day at the office. Sleep on it and consider whether you can turn things around and what solutions might help. Hodgson might have acted differently if he had left 24 hours after the match before making a decision. Your team won’t want to think that you are leaving them in troubled times with a failing business so try and transform things first.

Preparation is everything

Hodgson might have sketched his resignation speech in the tunnel 5 minutes before delivering it, but don’t put yourself under the same pressure. If you have decided to quit, plan how and when you are going to resign and be clear on your reasons for doing so.

Tell your manager first

Prioritise who you tell and when you tell them. You should always tell your manager first – don’t let them hear on the grapevine that you are planning to leave. It will create bad feeling, which isn’t what you need if you want a positive job reference.

Follow up in writing

Most companies still request a formal resignation letter so have this drafted with a clear outline of your desired leaving date and reason for leaving - keep it factual. It will allow HR to process the end of your contract and confirm holiday and other aspects such as outstanding payments. Agree an appropriate leaving date with your boss and don’t assume you can work less than your notice period.

Forgo the emotion

Be sincere and show you are genuine in what you are saying but don’t get lost in the moment and forget what you are trying to achieve. Cameron’s voice quavered ever so slightly when he resigned but he was still clear in his delivery; if he had stood outside Downing Street in tears it might have been another matter.

Don’t compromise your style

While you should try and keep it “emotion-free” you should still do it in your own style. Farage and Cameron’s resignations couldn’t have been more different but they sum up their personal brand well. Don’t lose your identity in your resignation meeting, letter or leaving speech because it is how you will be remembered and could pave the way for a future opportunity.

Say thanks

Don’t forget to pass on your thanks. Chris Evans was very clear that it was his personal decision to leave and not a reflection of the team. Consider what impact your resignation will have on your team and try and address that when you tell them. The news may come as a shock but help them to understand why now is a good time for you to pursue a new challenge. You never know when they might be a useful contact for a future job.

No going back

Realise that on the whole they’ll be no going back. Farage might have been able to take back his first resignation following the General Election but it is unlikely you'll be able to do the same. Once you’ve quit you won’t be able to change your mind and it could mean you have to leave the office straight away – make sure you are prepared in case you are put on gardening leave with immediate effect!

Quitting your job can be an emotional time but try to stay focused. Very few people can risk isolating themselves from their contacts and at the very least most people need a positive reference. Of course, if you have a drastic career change in mind and don’t mind cutting all your ties there are many ways to resign rather more disgracefully and I’m sure many of you have humorous examples of this!


About this author

Managing director of Hays Recruitment

Nigel Heap, Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland

Nigel is Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business.

After graduating in law, Nigel trained as an accountant before joining Hays in the UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. His successes led to rapid promotion and he quickly became a director of one of Hays’ largest businesses.

In 1997 Nigel was appointed managing director of Hays Australia and for the next 15 years he oversaw the ten-fold expansion of Hays’ business in Australia and expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. This led to his appointment as Managing Director of Asia Pacific. In 2012, Nigel moved back to the UK and was appointed as Managing Director of the UK & Ireland and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business.

Nigel sits on the London Council of the CBI.

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