Dont forget the basics
Of course, you’ll be well aware of the contractual technicalities within your company. You’ll have an in-depth understanding of procedure, length of notice, and whether payment in lieu of notice (PILON) is offered. But be sure not to allow your familiarity of the procedure to affect your professionalism.
Depending on your level of seniority, you may have to hand your notice to a more senior board director or your CEO. But regardless of your position within your organisation, it is good practice to write a formal letter of resignation. This is widely considered to be more professional than discussing your decision personally, and will help to avoid confusion during the transitional period. Remember, depending on the size of your company, your team may be tasked with managing your own departure. So take time to ensure that the paperwork is completed and processed efficiently.
Writing the letter
It may sound obvious, but the tone should be formal yet personal. Experience will have taught you that letters of resignation can have a tendency to adopt a bitter or resentful tone. And despite your technical understanding of the resignation process, the way you manage your own exit should be impeccable from an interpersonal point of view.
Acknowledge your relationship to the recipient but keep the content concise. Ensure that you thank your employer for the opportunities they have offered you, and emphasise the fact that you have enjoyed your time at the company. Explain your reasons for leaving and stress that you hope this will not be in end of your working relationship. Under no circumstances should you allow your resignation to become a soapbox for criticisms.
In addition to your formal letter, you may also wish to talk through your resignation with a more senior manager or your CEO, either informally or as part of a structured exit interview. You should use this as an opportunity to detail the reasoning behind your decision and make sure that there are no hard feelings or misunderstandings. Ensure that any observations raised at this stage are constructive.
Looking after your personal brand
In this industry, your individual reputation is a priceless commodity - particularly when senior HR directors are increasingly forging their careers through interim opportunities. As such, you should devote time each week to connect with your network and work on your personal brand, even if you are not actively searching for your next role.
Of course, you should never burn your bridges. The HR world is surprisingly interconnected and you never know who you might run up against in the future. Remember, a bad reputation spreads like wildfire. So even after you have moved on, you should uphold a level of discretion. Nobody likes a gossip. If you have been bad-mouthing your old workplace – either face-to-face or through social media – it will get back to them.
Guiding your career
There is no doubt that taking a leap to pastures new can be a daunting prospect. But you should never feel obliged to stick around in your current role through familiarity or obligation. You alone are responsible for managing your career – so don’t let opportunities pass you by.
A switched-on employer will have a good understanding of your professional aspirations. And if they are unable to offer you the routes for progression you desire, they will not be altogether surprised or angered by your resignation. But by carefully managing the process, you can ensure that you protect your professional reputation and don’t damage any future prospects. After all, you are the expert.