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4 tips to help you resign without burning bridges

Sarah K. White | Dec. 16, 2016
Leaving an executive position will require more than just two-weeks' notice. The process can take months. But these four tips will help you resign without burning any bridges.

However, finishing projects with the company before you move into your new role doesn't mean you are done with your former employer just yet. Even if you create a detailed transition plan, it's likely that questions and concerns will still pop up in the few months after you're gone. Therefore, it's a good idea to stay in touch with your old employer and successor in case something should occur.

"That will go a long way supporting your reputation as a good person, keeps that bridge strong and sturdy as you never know if you will need your back scratched one day. Give that advice and assistance when you can. It's good karma and there is really no harm in helping out your old employer who has supported you for a number of years," says Cruikshank.

Remember eyes are on you

Executives are often the face of company, so your resignation might kick up a flurry of industry speculation. "Resigning at the executive level may be a career decision, but the world will always assume it was about politics," says Mario Almonte, president of Herman & Almonte PR firm that specializes in business public relations.

Even if your resignation is on negative terms, ensure your statement to the public doesn't reflect your dissatisfaction. There will already be enough rumors floating around, the last thing you want to do is add fuel to the flame. Almonte recommends that, in any public statements, you emphasize the choice is a personal decision, and that the move is not a reflection of the company's success.

"The bottom line is, as an executive, assume 'everyone is watching' your resignation and make sure to absolve the company, its people and its market strategy of playing any part in your decision," says Almonte.

Cluroe adds that it's not just industry professionals watching, your employees will also have a close eye on the process. How you handle it can have a ripple effect on the business. For example, he says employees might wonder if the company isn't good enough for their boss, why should they stay there too? Similarly, investors might wonder if your resignation signals the early stages of a failing business, which could affect stock prices. The last thing you want is to trigger massive turnover in your wake by making employees and investors think it's a "sinking ship" scenario.

Avoid leaving for competitors

Sometimes it's written into an employee contract that you can't go directly to a competitor if you leave the company. But, for executives, even if that's not in the paperwork, Cruikshank says, you should still avoid it at all costs.


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