The interview process is stressful enough and now you have to tell your current employer that you are leaving. Once you reach offer stage, and formally accept, the final piece of the puzzle is crafting an exit strategy to disclose your intentions to your current employer. For candidates and recruiters, this is arguably the most intense part of the interview process. For some, this may be a long anticipated conversation that will bring a great amount of satisfaction. For others, there can be some measure of remorse, especially if you really do like your current job and current employer. You need to develop a strategy for telling your employer, anticipating the content of that conversation, and fending off counter offers.
The hardest part of delivering notice is mustering up enough courage to break the news. Once your intentions are known, it’s much easier to talk about your exit strategy. Whether it’s taking your manager to lunch, composing an email and scheduling a time to discuss, or taking the “Band-Aid” approach and just walking in unannounced, it is important to get over the initial fear of saying those words. Just do it and be firm in your decision.
Focus the conversation at a high level. There’s no need to get into details that may cause friction. If you are comfortable doing so, feel free to tell them where you are going, and a little bit about why that opportunity is good for your life and career goals. Be open with any feedback they may ask, but again, be careful to avoid anything that might cause tension. You want to create an atmosphere that will leave the door open for future opportunities. Be sensitive to your employer’s position. Your leaving will create a gap. It’s not your gap to manage, but it is your responsibility to make sure any loose ends are tied up or provide anything helpful in transitioning out. Hopefully, your manager will congratulate you and be genuinely happy. Most hiring managers are aware of the dangers of offering a counter, but this does seem to come up more often than it should. If it comes up, thank them for the consideration, but stay firm in your decision.
Most people don’t think about counter offers while they are going through the interview process. It seems so far off, and you are typically focusing your energy on making sure the jobs you are interviewing for are the right career fit and solving your current career issues. It’s almost an afterthought and conventional wisdom has woven this counter offer into the process as a standard. You put notice in, get a counter, and weigh the options, right? The best way to protect your career and your employer is to squash the counter discussion the second it comes up. If you accept a counter, you would burn a bridge with the offer you now have to back out of and you are damaging your reputation with your current employer. Once you reach this point, you should have already determined that there isn’t anything your current employer can do to try and keep you. Do not use counters as a method to advance your career with your current employer. It just doesn’t work. Over 75% of people who accept counters end up leaving that employer within 6 months of accepting the counter.
Whether you are a plan ahead or a wing it type of person, you can drastically reduce the stress of putting in notice by having a plan of action and controlling the conversation.