How to Approach Leaving Your Job Professionally
Whether you have actively searched for opportunities in Architecture or been headhunted for a new challenging role, landing a new job gives you a hurdle to overcome. You must resign from your current employer.
It is always good career policy to maintain a good relationship with ex-employers and ex-colleagues. Your ex employer, ex-boss and ex-colleagues are part of your professional history. Your experiences have helped shape your career, and should you wish to move on again a new employer may seek references from ex-employers.
The way you resign and leave an employer is likely to have an impact on your professional reputation in property development. If you depart under a cloud you could damage your career, sever ties to help from ex-colleagues when you need it, and you’ll cut off a return to what may be a dream job in the future.
This 10-step resignation process will help you leave a property development job professionally. You’ll be prepared for your resignation meeting and exit interview, and maintain the respect of your ex-colleagues and manager before and after your departure.
1. Give Proper Notice
The law says that you must give at least one week’s notice to your employer, but the actual amount of notice you give depends upon the notice terms in your contract. It’s common for developers to include one month or longer as a notice period. This works two ways, of course – your employer cannot give you notice of less than they expect you to give.
Never expect to leave sooner than your notice period unless you have completed a comprehensive handover. At best, it is likely to leave a bad taste; at worst, you may need to explain to your new employer why you cannot start on the date you said you would. That will not give a good impression.
Someone needs to take on the responsibilities you leave behind. Your employer will need to fill your position or train another to do your job. Giving the right length of notice will help your team adjust to your departure.
2. Prepare before Giving Your Notice
Even though quitting is a regular occurrence in business, it is a stressful thing to do. You don’t want to say something you may regret later, and whatever your relationship with your boss and others, you don’t want to leave on bad terms.
However, you have decided to move on, and so must do so with resolve. Ensure you have rehearsed what you will say to your boss and what you will write in your resignation letter. Also, consider what your reaction might be if your boss makes a counteroffer, begs you to stay, or requests that you give your decision a few more days of thought.
Make an impressive job of resigning, and the reputation that helped you get your new job offer will remain intact.
3. Give Notice Face-to-Face to Your Manager
Having planned what you will say, send an email to request a meeting to discuss your future with your boss and deliver the news face-to-face. Resigning in person is always the best strategy. It shows that you are serious, and that you are a professional. If you cannot meet face-to-face, then consider requesting a Skype meeting or arrange a phone call with your boss. Only use email as a last resort.
When you give your notice, never tell your work colleagues before your manager. The rumour mill works fast, and such discourtesy can lead to a difficult meeting with your manager. It certainly won’t help should you wish to be released earlier than your notice period.
4. Put Your Resignation in Writing
You should always put your resignation in writing and hand the letter to your manager at your resignation meeting. This cements your decision, and confirms the details that your employer will need to know. It ensures that there is no confusion on either side.
A resignation is not your opportunity to rewrite ‘War and Peace’. Keep it brief – no more than two or three paragraphs – and include the following details:
• Your reasons for leaving. You may wish to explain your reasons in general terms, such as “I am leaving to accept a position that provides a new challenge”. The level of detail you write depends upon how comfortable you feel, but should mirror what you say to your manager in your resignation meeting. If you are moving on because you don’t enjoy working with your current team or manager, you should provide as little detail as possible. A method often used to do this is to say that you are leaving for “personal reasons”.
• Confirmation of your notice period and your last day of work. Refer to your contract to make certain that you know your notice period, and confirm this in writing. If you are overseeing a project that is due to conclude a week or two after your leaving date, you may wish to offer to stay on to see its completion.
• Thank your manager, colleagues and company. Always show gratitude for the time you have spent with your employer. Something along the lines of “This has been a difficult decision for me to make. I have enjoyed my time working with [employer] and especially with my colleagues and you, [boss’s name].” Lastly, include the date of your resignation and include an offer to train someone to do your job.
5. Offer to Train Your Replacement
Making an offer to train your replacement will help your manager and team come to terms with your departure and make their transition to life without you smoother. It shows your professional nature and that you care about your colleagues.
You might also consider writing a guide for your replacement that details the daily tasks, key contacts, duties and responsibilities associated with the role. Your help now will leave people with a positive impression of their former colleague.
6. Finish Strongly
It can be difficult to maintain motivation when you are to leave soon – which is one reason many employers maintain a policy that resigning staff should leave as soon as possible after they have resigned, irrespective of notice period.
Producing a strong finish during the last few days should ensure that you are remembered positively. Your colleagues will remember your dedication and work ethic, and when you leave a clear desk with no incomplete tasks your replacement will move into the role more easily.
In those final few days, don’t be tempted to slack off or to treat colleagues with anything less than the utmost respect. First impressions matter, but last impressions are retained. A good work ethic and personal attitude during your notice period will ensure the door to a return in a more senior role is kept open.
7. Be Professional in Your Exit Interview
With the skills shortage in the real estate and built environment, development and property companies are keen to understand why a valued employee wishes to leave. What you say in your exit interview may be considered when your soon-to-be ex-employer develops its recruitment strategy.
You should be careful of what you say at an exit interview. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your current role, the team with whom you work, and your manager. Your reasons for leaving and the employee experience you had during your time with your employer are likely to be discussed with your manager, especially those that are negative. A positive exit interview is more likely to produce a positive reference when it is needed.
8. Say Goodbye with Gratitude
Especially if you have been with your current employer for a while, it is likely that you will have developed some close working relationships. A good policy is to send an email to thank all your colleagues for the good times. Ensure that you tell them all what a privilege it has been working with them, and that you will miss them at your new employer. Without bragging about your new role, let people know where you are moving to and your new position’s title.
It is likely that some people will have been more impactful to your career than others. These people deserve special thanks. Make it personal and positive, and explain how they have helped you along the way. Tell your boss that you appreciate all they have done for you, and reiterate the points covered in your exit interview.
9. Stay Connected
Staying connected with ex-colleagues is easy and it can be fruitful. Use social media, emails, texts and instant messengers to keep in touch. You never know when you may need to call on your former colleagues for advice, contacts or referrals. Don’t be the ex-colleague who only gets in touch when they want something.
10. Offer Your Help After You Leave*
After you have left, your replacement may still need. If there are no commercial conflicts, the best person to help is you.
You know the job that your replacement has taken on back to front, inside out, and upside down. You don’t have to help, but being willing to be a resource for a short time after you leave and with a willing and positive attitude, your help is more likely to be reciprocated when it is needed.
One never knows when a recommendation from a former employer may be needed, or the opportunity to work together again in some capacity may arise. Providing adequate notice before leaving demonstrates courtesy and respect to employers that should be reciprocated when employees transition out of the company.
Resign the Right Way
Even though you have spent long hours considering your job move, resigning is very rarely easy. There may be a pang of guilt, and you will have developed some seriously good working relationships. Some of your current colleagues may even be friends socially.
Resigning correctly will ensure that you don’t burn bridges that may be useful as your career develops. Doing so takes planning, a calm attitude, and resolution. Your boss may be upset that you are leaving, and so may your work colleagues.
When you resign, you must do so respectfully. If you are asked not to share the news yet, you should respect your manager’s wishes, even though you are bursting to let your closest friends know.
Remember that your soon-to-be ex-employer has probably done a lot for your career. They may have spent time, money and effort on helping you gain professional qualifications and achieve the success you have to date – attributes that have helped you receive your new job offer in property development.
You clearly made a good impression at the interview for your job. Make an equally impressive job of resigning, and the reputation that helped get you the job offer will remain intact.