After 17 years of working various jobs and leaving for various reasons (mostly voluntary departures), I have discovered that no matter how polite your resignation letter is or how non confrontational and positive you are when you present it, it seems to be very difficult to leave a job without your employer having some hard feelings. In an effort to reverse this trend, when departing my most recent job I decided to go against conventional wisdom and give a 30 day notice instead of the customary two weeks.
Ok, who am I kidding? I gave one month’s notice because I had a corporate level position and the company policy stated that in order for me to get paid out for my vacation I had to give a one month’s notice. But anyway, the fact remains that I did it.
What I found was that, while I expected a one month’s notice to be two weeks of extra awkwardness for all parties involved, I found that it helped to ease some of the sting of my departure and build goodwill with the former employer.
And so I undertook the task of figuring out why. What I came up with was that when you quit a job there are certain stages that your employer goes through.
These stages are as follows:
They can’t believe that you are quitting. They can’t believe that you would leave such an awesome company. They can’t believe that anyone else would hire you.
How dare you quit. How dare you leave such an awesome company right in the middle of budget season. How dare you leave your team. How dare you try to better yourself. You are a horrible person.
So you’re not joking? So you’re really leaving? Oh. Are you sure you’re not going to change your mind? Is there something we can offer you to get you to stay?
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We need to get updates on all of your projects before you leave. And can you finish putting together those budgets? And can you find and train your replacement in the next week or so? Make sure you leave your contact info in case we need to ask you a question about a project after you are gone.
You see the thing is, when you only give two weeks notice, you only get to step 2 in this 4 step process. So when you leave they are still busy being angry and don’t fully accept the fact that you’re leaving until a week after you’re gone.
Then they notice the pile of work that you left behind that they have no clue what to do with because they didn’t speak to you during your last week because they were angry at you. Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, this makes you look bad despite being obviously your employer’s fault.
However, when you give a month’s notice, you make it all the way to step four. The result is that you leave behind a more up to speed and prepared employer who has had a chance to get some much needed closure. Now you at least have a chance that he or she will give you a decent reference in the future.
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Author: Jon White
Jon White is a business executive, project manager, and part time instructor. Jon writes his own career development advice blog under the name Joe Earl at www.the-undergrad.com