Gracefully Resigning

Congratulations. You’ve accepted a new job.

Now take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the challenge ahead. Even though you may be floating on cloud nine now, there are a lot of emotional and logistical hurdles still to clear.

The job-changing process arouses all sorts of feelings. Starting with your acceptance to the first month or two after you’ve started your new position, the emotional limbo you’ll experience will be especially acute.

Why? Because suddenly, reality kicks in. After all this time, the changes you’ve been contemplating are in motion and actually going to happen.

This powerful realization will be followed by a sense of guilt. Damn, I’ve been cheating on my present employer. Having an affair is one thing, but this is divorce, right? I never knew it would come to this!

Enter the fear of reprisal. My boss is gonna crap, I just know it. They’re really going to make me suffer. And if the fear of guilt doesn’t give you enough to worry about, consider the buyer’s remorse you’ll probably feel. What if I made a mistake?

Shhhh. Breathe deeply. Everyone who changes jobs is plagued by these demons. It’s natural. Find, and go to your happy place.

Rather than dwell on the past, imagine for a moment that you’re in your new job. Isn’t this great? Think of all the changes you’re making, and how your new life is a huge improvement compared to what you had before. Think of the new people you’re meeting, the new skills you’re acquiring, and the new opportunities you have to advance your career.

Now, are you going to let your fears unravel everything you’ve accomplished in the way of self-evaluation, planning, resume writing, and interviewing? No way. You’re not the type of person who’s going to allow cold feet to put the chill on changing jobs. You’re a person of action, and you seize the moment. You know that those who back away from golden opportunities may never get another chance.

Self-affirmations like these can do wonders for maintaining your positive energy. And by projecting all the beneficial aspects of your new job into the present tense, you’ll ward off the demons that can distort your judgment, and make you vulnerable to a counteroffer attempts.

If your intention to make a change is sincere, and a counteroffer by your current company won’t change your decision to leave, you should still keep up your guard. A counteroffer attempt can be potentially devastating, both on a personal and professional level. Unless you know how to diffuse your current employer’s retaliation against your resignation, you may end up psychologically wounded, or right back at the job you wanted to leave.

The best way to shield yourself from the inevitable mixture of emotions surrounding the act of submitting your resignation is to remember that employers follow a predictable, three-stage pattern when faced with a resignation:

They’ll be in shock. “You sure picked a fine time to leave! Who’s going to finish the project we started?” The implication is that you’re irreplaceable. They might as well ask, “How will we ever get the work done without you?”

  • Answer this challenge by replying, “If I were run over by a truck on my way to work tomorrow, I feel that somehow, this company would survive.” or put it back on them and say, “That implies there was a good time for me to leave? Is there something I should know?”
  • They’ll start to probe. “Who’s the new company? What sort of position did you accept? What are they paying you?” Here you must be careful not to disclose too much information, or appear too enthusiastic. Otherwise, you run the risk of feeding your current employer with ammunition they can use against you later, such as, “I’ve heard some pretty terrible things about your new company” or, “They’ll make everything look great until you actually get there. Then you’ll see what a sweat shop that place really is.”

They’ll make you an offer to try and keep you from leaving. “You know that raise you and I were talking about a few months back? I forgot to tell you: We were just getting it processed yesterday.” To this you can respond, “Hmmm… Today you seem pretty concerned about my happiness and well-being. Where were you yesterday, before I announced my intention to resign?”

It may take several days for the three stages to run their course, but believe me, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself engaged in conversations similar to these.

About the author

Terry Blanchard

I'm the Vice President of Engineering at Readdle, ex-Apple, design evangelist, drummer, and gadget junkie extraordinaire.

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