Sinead Hasson

Recruiters offer plenty of advice and guidance to help people find new jobs, but to safeguard a candidate’s industry reputation, it’s crucial that they also provide the right counsel ahead of their resignation. What is the best approach? Sinead Hasson, offers her insights taken from nearly 20 years of experience in the industry.

A two fingered salute
Maybe some of you might dream of walking into your boss’s office and sticking two fingers up, then marching straight out the door. But your left-brain knows, of course, that that’s not the right way to quit a job.

Flexibility is key
In the research industry, to leave a company with anything less than a month’s notice is just not fair to your current employer. And while a month’s notice is customary in many sectors, you might consider offering to work longer to complete certain projects, if you haven’t already committed to a start date at another organisation.

Also, the more senior you are, the longer it may take to extricate yourself. If you’re at managerial level or above, the chances are that you’re a key player in at least some initiatives that will extend beyond your contractual notice period. With this in mind, you must consider the hand-over period, as well as having to potentially train your replacement or other colleagues.

That said, don’t offer to work any longer than the standard three months. This should be enough for both internal and client expectations to be appropriately managed and for you to steady the ship prior to your departure. Also, it’s inevitable that the minute you resign some things will change; you’re no longer one of the team and there may be issues with confidentially on client campaigns or projects which prevent you from making a useful contribution.

Ultimately you need to collaborate with your boss and agree a plan to ensure your notice period and handover goes as smoothly as possible.

Breaking the news
While you might have some colleagues who are also close friends, the first person you should tell is your manager. God forbid your boss hears the news from anyone else or, even worse, the rumour mill has played fast and loose with the facts and they hear a different version.

In addition, once you’ve had the initial conversation and agreed your departure date, it’s pertinent to discuss how your resignation will be communicated to your colleagues and clients. Don’t forget that managing your departure creates a fair amount of additional work for your superiors, so it’s courteous to ensure you know how they plan to tackle it and support them appropriately.

Truth hurts but doesn’t harm
Although you’re not obligated to tell anyone about your next job, be prudent and think about the long-game. The network of contacts which you’ve built up throughout your career will play a part in your future success. With that in mind, the more open and honest you are about your plans, the more likely you are to maintain your relationships and your reputation. But be judicious here. Your departing employer will not thank you for speaking out of turn and you may also be bound by restrictive covenants in your existing contract. Being sure of what you can and can’t say should mitigate any unpleasantness.

Be grateful
No matter how happy and excited you are about your new job, consider the people you’re leaving behind and the opportunity your company originally gave you. Be grateful for the things that went well and recognise the role these things played in your development.

If, however, you’re dealing with a boss who openly accuses you of disloyalty, you need to remain calm and professional. It’s counter-productive to engage with them or become emotional.

On the other hand, if all is well, think about giving farewell gifts or thoughtful notes to your boss, mentors, and other people you worked with in order to leave a good impression.

Exit stage right
A part of the leaving process which has become increasingly popular in recent years is the exit interview. These can be tricky waters to navigate. Try to resist the temptation to vent your spleen; this does no-one any good and it pays to remember that the market research industry is a small world. That said, if you do have measured and constructive criticism to offer then this is the time to do so; just remember to keep it professional and positive in tone. Slurs and smears won’t positively change a thing in your bosses mind; they’ll only think less of you as a result.

Finally never ever forget that a future employer is likely to ask your boss for a reference. If there is one thought that should help you to temper any feelings of disquiet, it should be this.

Got any additional pointers? Add your comment below and join the discussion @SineadH

Sinead Hasson is Managing Director of Hasson Associates