The do’s and don’ts of resigning

A huge part of personal finance is the cultivation of your career.  While your goal may be to reach Financial Independence, you do still need to do something to get there.  Your career will undoubtably be the biggest area of earnings for a large portion of your life and will, for years, throw off more income than your investments will.  It’s because of this that I’m a firm believer that nurturing your career is absolutely essential to the personal finance mission.  Part of this is knowing when it’s time to grow out of your current job and company and move on to a new place.  It’s almost always going to be tough if you’ve spent years in the same place, with the same people.  They become your friends and family.  But they also become your comfort zone and your security blanket, allowing you to coast a bit.  Going hand in hand with that coasting is most likely less than you’d like raises.  Typically, in a career, the only time you get big raises are for big promotions and moving on to a new job.  If you stay in the same job, you’re likely to see standard 5% raises year after year, if you’re lucky.  Maybe a bonus here or there but overall, not too much.

While I know that much of the personal finance world focuses almost exclusively on getting out of the office and into your own world, doing what you want, neglecting how to best play the corporate game is, well, negligent.  As I said before, this is where you get started making money.  When you get out of college and get your first job, you will likely be making more money than you’ve ever made before.  And when it is time to move on, there are some definite rules to follow.  Over at the people2people blog (an awesome Australian recruiting company that a friend of mine happens to work for) wrote about the 15 rules to resignation the other day and, since I recently resigned from my job to accept a new one, I thought I’d weigh in on the matter. Here are what I believe to be the top 5 items to think about with resignation.

1.  Never burn bridges: I’ve talked to people who, for some reason, want to leave their job and just piss everyone off.  Don’t.  Never ever do this.  The best currency in your life is your reputation and if you burn bridges, it’s gone.  You may have heard that before but it’s true.  Always be amicable on your exit, give good notice, and never badmouth your previous employer.  That’s just bad taste.

2.  Don’t take anything with you: I don’t mean the stapler or some notebooks, I mean sensitive client information or other such documents.  They don’t belong to you, they belong to the company.  If you take them and they find out, not only will you also be violating rule number 1 above but you could end up being sued.  Not the best option, if you ask me.

3.  Don’t ask for a counter if you don’t mean it: They mention this on the people2people blog and I 100% agree with it.  If you’re head is fully out of there, just go.  When you give your resignation to your boss, let him or her know that they don’t need to make a counter offer.  Making a counter offer actually takes a lot of work (conference calls with other bosses, taking money from the budget, maybe reducing future headcount somewhere else to keep you on) and it’s honestly not fair to put your boss through it if you won’t be staying.  On the other hand…

4. If you do want a counter, give them more than 24 hours: Like I said above, it takes time to put this together.  As a boss, you have to consult a lot of people, budgets, etc.  It’ll take time and honestly, your boss deserves a few days.  You did just tell them you may be leaving!  Which brings us to number 5.

5.  Say thank you and goodbye: people2people also mentioned this and once again, they’re spot on the mark.  You’ve spent years with these people.  Thank your mentors and give them your new contact info.  Just because you’re not there anymore doesn’t mean they won’t still help you.  If you’ve built up a good relationship, they will likely stick with you for the rest of your career.  Also, say goodbye to everyone you can but tastefully.  Never boast.  One of the things I hated most about leaving my previous job was that one of my favorite coworkers had gone on maternity leave and I wasn’t able to do it in person.  To this day, big sad face over here.

Leaving your comfort zone and moving to a new company can be a tough change, especially if you’ve been in the same place for a while.  But it may also be the change you’re looking for in your life, whether it is culturally, location, or financially.  Just remember, never burn bridges and always be a polite and courteous person when you’re leaving.  It always helps.  Until next time!