IT Employment

Cover all your bases when you resign from a job

If you are planning to resign from your job, there are some practical matters you should be aware of. Here are some tips for quitting your job the right way.

As we all know, the employment outlook is dismal. In the face of unemployment, some folks wouldn't leave their jobs if they had molten lava pouring into their cubicles.

But others, however, are still on the move. As with everything career-related, you must exercise some care and finesse even when resigning from a job. Here are some tips for doing it right:

  1. If you've already been offered another job, be sure to get the company's offer in writing before you resign.
  2. Before you turn in your resignation, find out what your company policy is regarding severance, the return of company property, and unused vacation time. Some states (like California) will pay you for your unused vacation time upon termination.
  3. If you're quitting before you've found another job, learn the reference policy of the company you're leaving. In particular, find out what information will be disclosed to a prospective employer. Most firms will give only dates of employment.
  4. Be formal in how you tell your boss. Make an appointment with him or her, be direct, but not necessarily rude. Give at least two weeks notice and make an offer to help with the transition. After the discussion, put your resignation and all the information you've gleaned in the conversation in a hard-copy letter that includes the last day you will work.
  5. Of course, some companies, particularly those with security concerns, will just escort you out the door and not take the two weeks. In this case, you will want to clear your personal information off your computer. Clear you browser cache, remove passwords you use for non-work-related Web sites that you sometimes access from work (e.g., your online bank account).
  6. And above all, behave responsibly.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

44 comments
dark_angel_6
dark_angel_6

.. of note, don't badmouth your previous employer, no matter how you feel about them, to your new employer or colleagues. Aside from it being unethical, your new employer may start to wonder what you will say about THEM if you leave.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Go through your Email and wipe any non-business contact and Emails. Any Emails and contacts [non-business] that you want to take with you, save them to disk and burn. If you start Emailing a home account management may find it fishy and inquire what you sent home. In this case you can show what you kept. Make sure everything of company property is returned. Act normal until you make the announcement - which means do your normal work. Don't start to slack off. Leaving a job but no job after may not give you eny unemployment insurance. Verify this for your jurisdiction. By law [in some jurisdictions] companies may not have to give any severance if you leave [or even laid off].

gbenga_olotu2006
gbenga_olotu2006

Thats a very good information. I'm on the verge of resigning from my job though I've not gotten another one. My boss doesn't seem to be satisfied with what I'm doing......he always wants more....irrespective of whether you're indisposed or not. No formal training to integrate you into the workings of the company. Several months salary haven't been paid and I'm running into debt here and there. Please what should I do? Shd I hold onto this job where what you do is not appreciated or quit to have peace of mind and have something better to do with your life.

cynic 53
cynic 53

Good advice but I have always resigned in writing with a polite letter and not verbally face to face. Why? A written resignation controls what is said and ensures a record is available. It also depersonalises what could be a confrontational situation, especially if you are leaving that job for unhappy reasons. Having ensured that I have another job to go to and that their offer is confirmed on writing, I then print off my letter and put it on the desk of my line manager and the HR Department when they are not present or send it to them via the internal mail system. The letter is concise and polite with no personal or subjective remarks, merely informing them that I have accepted alternative employment commencing at a particular date and would accordingly be leaving their employment at close of working hours on a certain day, taking into account notice required and any unused leave. In the UK companies normally pay an employee leaving for leave not taken, and can deduct money for any leave taken over that accrued in that year although sometimes they waive that claim. I do not disclose the name of my new employers , the position, nor the salary, nor do I put anything which is the slightest bit personal in the letter such as thanking them or anyone else. Just a bland statement of resignation. In some places that has been accepted and the normal processes occur when an employeee leaves. In others one is requested to attend a leaving interview , but having put it in writing I have found that this is usally a formality and can be answered with a "Name, Rank and Number" approach if one wishes. Often if the leaving employee declines such a interview they will waive it. Again in the UK if for security reasons an employer wishes a resigning employee to leave there and then they will pay whatever notice they do not therefore work, usually one month here in Britian. So the leaver can either start sooner with their new employer and thus earn extra or have a paid break until beginning their new job. One very good piece of advice I was given decades ago was to leave shaking hands and not shaking fists. NEVER tell your ex-boss what you think of him or the company, no matter how unhappy you may have been there or how happy you are to be leaving. Keep it impersonal, bland and polite. You never know when a reference from that company may be needed or they could even take over your new employer at some later date. I have known that happen!

hmx
hmx

also: when your employer escorts you out (instead of letting you work through the end of your notice period) you are generally *not* eligible for pay, benefits, ... through the end of your notice period. your state may allow an unemployment claim for this time, though. also: if you don't keep personal stuff on your employer's computer then cleaning up your junk isn't an issue.

slatimer76
slatimer76

When I left my last job, I did most of those things, and have offers from the current IT Director to give testimonials and to contract with me if needed. There is always a way to leave a job correctly, even if you are unhappy there. Giving notice is the easiest way to do it right, the other 4 are all just good advice. Over all, remember, you may need a contact at the company, maybe not for anything more then a phone number from an old vendor or something, so it is best to not burn bridges.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

"...be direct, but not necessarily rude." When is it recommendable to be rude? I do think it's advisable to observe professional courtesy in what is sometimes a very small world. You never know upon whom your career will depend on in the future.

T.Walpole
T.Walpole

I'd do number 5 before doing number 4.

vulturex
vulturex

Its highly unprofessional to bad mouth a former employer specifically , at least during the interview.

danmangenz
danmangenz

Seriously, there has to be a law or something about non-payment for a period of time. Get a lawyer and see what you can do, you could get compensation for a whole year, idk, do something to benefit from this situation. Period.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Granted I am a greedy American but I wouldn't go more than 2 weeks w\o a pay check. Money tends to trump most everything. you can treat me like gold if you don't pay me it does not matter.

JP-1
JP-1

You are in a NO-Win - No Glory situation. The Boss does not care about you....just His Bottom line. Put ALL your efforts into finding something(anything) else, and leave with your head held high and dignity intact. Just curious, do you work for a small company?

cynic 53
cynic 53

If you have not been paid for several months you owe them abosolutely nothing at all. Indeed they owe YOU! You lose nothing if you leave them, I can see no point in staying there a moment longer. I don't know how good the Legal system is in Nigeria compared to the UK, but here you could leave and take them to Court to recover your wages and you would probably get Legal Aid here too. I don't think they have that in your country so I feel you will need to write off your loses and go elsewhere.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

At my last gig I was horribly underpaid. I was disgruntled as hell and hated my boss who seemed to just sit there and earn a comfortable salary while all I had was a cushy title but was on the verge of homelessness. A year before my departure I wrote a letter outlining my responsibilities and how my title didn't do it any justice. All they did was change my title, but I got no raise. Then the economy tanked and we had a salary freeze. I started my job search and eventually landed the gig I have now. During my exit interview I felt like venting, but I kept it professional realizing that after I was gone, that would do all the talking. I was right. Now they're having all kinds of problems.

dark_angel_6
dark_angel_6

You may find yourself needing to ask for your job back at some point. Although some of us may shudder at the thought, it's always best to keep ALL of your options open.

vulturex
vulturex

Sometimes one can only pretend to be courteous for so long after enduring so much bs out of clients/companies. Sometimes the look of shock and awe of a well placed F bomb is worth burned bridges. The truth is companies don't control that much of your life and future and the world is a big place. There is no law that says you have to be nice but there are plenty of laws that make companies liable for anything negative said in reference to you.

tomm
tomm

It really stinks when the company uses the poor economy as an excuse to take advantage of people. We have an owner that is just an asshole and thinks that his shit doesn't stink. however he is also the one who is the laziest person i have ever met in my life and the first one to start crying as soon as something goes wrong. He thinks he is god even though the CEO says he has no authority. When he started dissing my boss and the CEO i almost lost it. I may not like the companies actions but at least my boss has been respectful and treated me with the utmost proffesionalism. It only takes one bad apple to ruin it for the entire company.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

No one will give you time to back up your data. As far as they're concerned, you could delete or sabotage files. Especially if you're in IT.

vulturex
vulturex

If you're in a position to do so(ie it admin, sys admin whatever). , wipe everything or even take the extra step of purchasing a replacement drive for your company machine and dispose of the original . Ive seen horror stories where once a co worker is gone others in the department sometimes at the request of management go snooping looking for anything and dig up all sorts of random crap

dallas_dc
dallas_dc

Another reason to not bad mouth your former boss, is that he might someday get a job at your current company. You might even have to report to him or her again! FYI - lanix9 - It could be construed by most reasonable people that it is unprofessional to use a fake offer letter to get a pay increase. I'm just sayin'...

dallas_dc
dallas_dc

He may not have the same laws and protection that you might find in the US. He also may not have the same job opportunities that you have.

vulturex
vulturex

I've been there myself , but constructive criticism of your ex employer during an exit interview can lead to workplace improvement for your co workers left behind who may not have the courage to say what is needed to be said. Another last ditch maneuver is to completely take them by surprise with a resignation and drop an ultimatum they can't refuse without consequence. In one such situation , I was able to increase my hourly rate (temporarily) and title just by playing hardball after months of trying to reasonably negotiate better contract terms. We had just got off a big IT meeting about a critical project I was being tasked with (over burdened with) and enough was enough, so with a fake offer letter from a friend's company in hand and the fact my manager's reputation depended on this up coming project I simply asked "Give me a reason to stick around on this project" The end result was a permanent job offer , but eventually the desire to be a freeman over being a corporate serf got the best of me.

seabruce
seabruce

In the current economic climate, I was surprised there wasn't a warning about possibly not qualifying for unemployment insurance in some states when you voluntarily quit--plus it is lousy on your resume and difficult to explain in future job interviews.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Of your new organization merging with your old one, leaving you stuck with an idiot that now knows what you feel about him/her... and that can be unpleasant.

dallas_dc
dallas_dc

I am glad you let off that steam, but what does that have to do with the topic?

brazitis
brazitis

A few years back, when I had to wipe hard drives for a non-profit (their PC's were not good enough to handle the OS upgrade, so they purchased new PC's), I used Darik's Boot and Nuke (dban) from www.dban.org - they are still around and still offering free downloads that you can put on a bootable floppy disk (ah, the good old days) or bootable CD. In my experience, the boot disk worked well - the program searched for any hard disk data, and wiped it clean. (Win 98SE was then installed on the empty hard drive, and the PC's were given away free to local smaller non-profits.)

dallas_dc
dallas_dc

I would strongly recommend removing all personal data. However, the business related data belongs to the company and the hard drive belongs to the company. Do not destroy company data or replace company hardware unless you want to get sued or charged with a crime. If you wipe everything, you may have to prove you did not destroy company data. If you remove the personal stuff, it will be up to the company to prove that you removed business related data. In addition, I would not consider it professional or ethical to destroy all of the data I have accumulated while doing my job for the past several years. The company paid me to do that work, and the history of what was done and how, has value to the company. Finally, I don't use my company computer to do anything or write anything which could come back to bite me in the future. That way, you do not have to worry about someone digging in your data after you are gone. Do the right thing!

Aaron
Aaron

Before you go nuclear on your employer's equipment, you need to ensure that you are not going to violate Intellectual Property agreements you signed on joining. Wiping a drive to hide your porn images might seem like a good idea, until your company accuses you of deleting the IP you created for them. If you can't show what was erased, you may be in for an uncomfortable legal ride...

hmx
hmx

but the contents of that system and hard drive aren't your data to destroy. they belong to your employer.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Ve trust, but ve must make certain. Which I'm sure is something nasty sounding like Wie habe die truss, als wie mache sure. I just got back from a couple years in Germany (but I worked day to day in english so didn't learn german fluently by any stretch). Anyways cool language especially if you are both angry and want to be incredibly specific about why you are upset :-)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Fraud is bad, especially fraud on paper that can be easily checked up on...

tsmith71553
tsmith71553

In one sense I agree with the "not burning bridges" principle - - but in situations where some IT leaders, because of their unique expertise, have a "deity complex", and advocate this type of attitude with their project leaders and/or managers - - other top company leaders need to know the reason for turnover, poor department morale, lack of group motivation, etc. Most of the time, where these characteristics exist in a(especially IT) department, you can usually find , at the root, an oppressive (usually insecure) character at the top of the food chain, who, outside of the work-evnvironment walls, is not much of a "leader" at all, but a timid little "milktoast", afraid of his/her own shadow, who can only exert authority over their underlings at work... in this case, I just don't think it's doing anyone any good (especially those left behind) to just "turn the other cheek" and leave. And if the occassion arises where you do encounter this individual again, they might be a bit more reticent to 'screw' with you the next time.

vulturex
vulturex

I don't know how many times I've had to tell former co workers this . If you got to quit make sure its for a good reason and something you can look yourself in the mirror over. Lots of people quit jobs for stupid reasons but so few people realize that you can turn tables on the situation and at least buy time before lining up another gig. I'm a contractor , I'm used to jumping ship and have no problem doing it if economical incentive from another gig is there, but I rarely quit for anything out side of better pay elsewhere .

dallas_dc
dallas_dc

Our company would never agree to hire you on those terms. If I hire you as a contractor, and provide you with hardware to work on, the hardware and all of the work done on that hardware belongs to my company. The product of your work has been paid for, and you do not have the right to destroy it. No sale!

vulturex
vulturex

I'm not saying blatantly destroy company IP, I'm saying CYA most important data should be kept on network shares anyways, but desktops and laptops are forensic containers that companies can and do use to gather usage information and in some cases create false usage information off of. And while most IT pros know better than to use company desktops for personal use, the reality is many people wind up using their company issued machines for personal use. I've personally seen company management at places in the past try to acquire personal information of former employees by encouraging moderate personal use just so that later enough forensic data would be there to potentially do harm, to track or extort former employees into cooperating with them later on for whatever reason. While the threat of companies suing or pursuing legal action is there for destroying drives or whatever, the reality is most companies aren't even going to bother to pay for discovery or other legal costs in pursuing someone who simply destroys/wipes a company hard drive. Besides the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove anything malicious and intentionally damaging . If a desktop/laptop is deemed so critical that it being wiped caused doom and destruction for a company, many in court will quickly point to negligence on the IT staff and management for not better utilizing other network resources to protect against data loss. As an IT contractor , whenever I sign a 1099 contract, I specifically make sure that if I cannot use my own personal biz pcs/laptops that I effectively acquire the hard drive of whatever machine I'm issued and that I pay the cost of a drive replacement which gives them a nice discount for final invoices . If I don't acquire the hard drive, I simply wipe it (My reasons have more to do with ensuring the former client no longer has any access to private third party services I utilize for certain types of work, not personal data) In all the contracts I have worked, I have not yet seen a complaint on my policy .

dark_angel_6
dark_angel_6

If you think you may need to do a DOD wipe of your hard drive to remove anything then you have probably been using company equipment improperly. Most companys will have a computer use policy or something similar which can in some cases be a legal document. If you don't want to get yourself into a whole lot of legal trouble, don't use your computer for anything that will in the first place. Having said that, any personal documents or personal contact lists should be removed out of consideration for your own privacy, but thats about all.

minithumbs
minithumbs

1. make sure all company data is on the network drives first then reimage the PC - you take nothing with you - run a zeroer over the drive and you are pretty safe then. 2. whatever you do DON'T wipe company data, - make sure it is saved in the right place, else you could land yourself in court. and document where you have saved it - keep a copy. 3. copy all your email - you never know when you might need it and they might just delete it on you. clean out all personal email from your inbox but leave company emails. 4. Dont make it personal - if they ask why you are leaving say positive things like - offered a great opitunity for growth in the direction you want your career to go. 5. have a typed list of all the company property you are returning and make whoever you return it to sign and date it. this includes documents, mobiles, laptops whatever you are returning give them no room for accusing you of not having returned it. It is YOUR proof. 6. remove personal stuff that will not be noticed before you resign, clean out your drawers, the last thing you want is someone hovering over you while you remove your personal things. NB also do 1, 2 & 5 before your end of probation interviews too, just incase. You might be doing a decent job and still get shafted cause they don't like you or the company decided they dont actually need the postion and they may play nice all the way to the interview so you have no idea what is coming.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

...und spionierung, viel spionierung!!!

SPC_TCOL
SPC_TCOL

I don't know what German means, but I would say: Sicher ist Sicher. Besides this, when I work for more then one year in a country I learn there language.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Damn, I've got to recover my german skills. I'll need it f?r veurk. Ich muss geld haben, viel geld!

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