Your Resignation Letter: How to Do It Right

You've landed a new job. And it's a good one. And you're excited about moving on.

Cue the confetti! The fireworks! The high-fives all around!

Firming up a job offer and planning for this next stage in your career is often such an exciting time. But there's one little thing left to do. And for most of us, it doesn't feel like so little of a thing at all.

If you're in a job that you'll soon be departing, it's time to think about the resignation letter.

How do you exit stage left from your current job gracefully, properly and with all bridges left unburned? Here's a quick list of do's and don'ts:

DO: Be Succinct and Straightforward

Even if you're feeling guilty or sad or bad or whatever about moving on, remember that this is business. People come, people go and pretty much no one crumbles or dies in the process. That said, you truly don't need to apologize, over-talk or provide every last detail about what you're doing and why.

State your intention, with specificity, and your proposed end date. Generally speaking, two weeks' notice is appropriate industry standard, but you can and should gauge how vital your role is, and timing of projects in progress when you consider how much notice to offer. (Also, factor in the required or desired timing of your new employer.)

DO: Be Conscientious

In the resignation letter, proactively propose the steps / actions you're willing to take during your final days, to help ensure a smooth transition. Offer to hand off projects to certain team members, wrap things up with clients, train someone on that thing you do (if you're the only one around who knows how to do it), etc. In short, make a clear offer to leave the company positioned for success as you walk out the door. 

Do note, however, that your proposed offer may not be accepted. Realize that some companies will ask you to leave immediately, once you tender your resignation. Don't be offended by this. Sometimes, it's policy. Sometimes, it's reactive emotions. And sometimes, companies fear what might happen if they allow you continued access to files and clients, when they know you're on the outbound. 

DO: Be Appreciative

Even if every fiber of your being wants to run screaming for the door, show some gratitude for the opportunity you've been given with your soon-to-be-former employer, and outline briefly something you've learned or gained from the experience and / or your boss. This shows that, in spite of the reasons for your departure, that you're truly one of the good guys.

DON'T: Give Zero Notice

Again, industry standard is two weeks' notice. Storm trooping the boss' office, throwing down your resignation letter, and storming out may give you loads of immediate gratification, but it's almost never going to be the right long-term solution. If you simply cannot give two weeks' notice (due to timing of the other job, or other factors), offer up at least a few days, so that you can help wrap things up, transition work, and close out your current projects.

DON'T:  Bad Mouth Anyone, Or the Company

The resignation letter is not, repeat: IS NOT the right place for airing grievances about your co-workers, boss or the organization you're leaving. The purpose of this letter is to succinctly state your intentions, and propose a timeline for your departure. This document is going to live on and on in your file. It should be to-the-point, and it should be written in "hold my head high" style.

If you do have grievances to lay out, the exit interview will give you an in-person opportunity to share this feedback (Just be sure and do it in a constructive manner).

DON'T: Try too Hard to Win Favor

Realize that not everyone is going to be happy when you resign. And, if you're super valuable, they may be downright pissy about your pending departure. That's totally natural, and should be expected.

And, while you may feel bad or guilty, you surely don't need to fall all over yourself in the resignation letter, trying to make sure they're not mad at you. Never offer up a timeline or propose a "before I go" workload that simply won't align your starting this new job, just to smooth feelings.

Again, some of your colleagues (and maybe your boss) are very well going to be surprised, annoyed, hurt or nervous that they're about to get a wheelbarrow full of extra work dumped on them. Your agreeing to stay an extra two weeks isn't going to fix that, and it could jeopardize your future at the new job. 

Be professional. Be appreciative. Be succinct. But don't go so far out of your way trying to be the good guy that you end up agreeing to something that doesn't work for your new commitments.

AND LAST: Be Confident in Your Decision

Once you have handed your resignation letter over to your supervisor (yes, if humanly possible, it should be done in person), don't waffle. It's done. Mission accomplished. If people around you are grumbly, so be it. Hold your head up as you serve out your last days. Be helpful and kind. Don't feed into any mopeyness, "jokes" about your departure, or snarkiness from those who hate to see you leave. Instead, stay focused on wrapping things up ... and get really excited about all the great things on your horizon.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (EKGTechnicianSalary)

Why Self-Care Is Such an Important Job Search Tactic

Here we are.

We're deep into January, a month that people so often start with zest, hope and promise -- and end in frustration or despair, when things don't unfold precisely how we vowed or envisioned they would.

People don't respond to our job applications as fast as we want. Interviews are tougher than expected. We're tired from life's obligations, and struggling to carve time out to look for something new or better.

Maybe you're sad. Maybe you're angry. Maybe you're just flat-out all set at this point. (I know at least a few of you are; I've talked with you.)

If any of this sounds remotely familiar, I urge you to ask yourself this question:

How well am I caring for myself right now?

I"m not asking you to contemplate "How's my job search strategy?" Or, "How much harder could I be trying?" Or, "How bad is my luck here?"

I'm asking, "Scale of 1 to 10, how do I rate myself when it comes to both inner and outer self-care?"

So many of us put ourselves dead last when it comes to nurturing our bodies, our minds and our spirits. We tend to our children, we make sure our friends and family members' needs are all met, we volunteer for stuff we don't want to volunteer for, we attend functions we don't want to attend ... we go and we go and we go ... until there's absolutely nothing left for ourselves.

Or sometimes, we feel like it's plain selfish to put our well-being at the front of the line.

And so we just don't. 

The problem here is this -- When you let stress pile up (and I think we'll all agree that, even under the best of circumstances, job search and career pivots are pretty darned stressful), it will ultimately slow you down, at best. At worst, it'll completely take over your ability to function.

And if you're looking for a new job in 2017, "ability to function" is fairly high on the "must have" list.

Folks, self-care is not decadent. It's not selfish, it's not woo-woo, it's not even a little bit silly.

I can tell you this from personal experience. 

2016 was, in many ways, a fiasco for my family and me. The main highlights:

In February, my husband -- a fit and energetic cyclist -- was diagnosed with severe stress and high blood pressure -- to the point that his doctor suggested he change jobs, immediately.

In June, I was diagnosed with PTSD -- remnants of a decades-old assault that I'd not exactly gotten around to processing and recovering from. (Turns out, you should do this.)

In September, my husband's new-ish employer announced on a Tuesday that his job was moving to Dallas, and if he didn't wish to move, his last day of work would be Friday (we didn't wish to move).

Certainly, these were all (fortunately) overcome-able circumstances. But, when mixed in with the rigors of running a business and caring for an ever-active family, it was at times downright oppressive.

What got us through?

Aside from faith, stubbornness and more than a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc, it was deliberate self-care -- even when it felt selfish, woo-woo or a little bit silly. I started yoga (kicking and screaming my way all the way to the first class), and now practice 3-4 days a week. I blocked out semi-regular time in my calendar for pleasure reading, listening to music and walking the dog.

I tried green tea (gack, not for me). I paid attention to what I ate.

I even stuck a toe into guided meditation, a practice that I'm just getting started with, so I'll have to report back on how it goes.

I'm not suggesting these things miraculously transformed every stressful situation like some magical wand. We had some true doozies of stretches for a while there. But I will say without hesitation that unapologetic self-care helped make some of those "I can't take one more day of this" moments feel more like, "This rather sucks. I should take a few deep breaths and ease my way through it" moments.

How this relates to you

If you're in the middle of a job search or career pivot, you're going to operate much, much (muuuuccch) more effectively if you've got some semblance of calm, energy, mental clarity and physical stamina. You may not feel like Wonder Woman every day (or Hercules), for certain. This is tough stuff. But, by deliberately (and regularly) creating space for enjoyment, rest and well-being, you'll give yourself a fighting chance.

If you're feeling frustration or burnout already in 2017, consider finding two things this week to say no to, and two things (that are all about you) to say yes to. That's literally all this takes -- a starting point.

Even if it's just little by little, beginning to cultivate a habit of self-care (no matter how weird it feels) may not only be your ticket to sanity now; it also could play a vital role in accelerating the time between today and your first day at a great new job in 2017.

Take it from the gal who now swears by it.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Jessicahtam)

The 5 First Things to Do When You Want to Work in a New Town

Wanderlust.

Or, maybe it's a desire to get closer to family. Or a spouse who just landed a new job, in another state.

Or, perhaps, you just can't take another day of the stinking cold weather.

Whatever prompts your goal or need to find work in a new town, the common denominator is typically this:

It's intimidating. Confusing. Kind of foreign feeling. Not fun.

But it certainly doesn't have to be impossible. In fact, there are a few reasonably easy things you can do -- right away -- to help accelerate the time between now and when you sashay through the doors of your new employer, in your new town. Here are the five first things to consider:

1. Figure Out Who The Players Are, In Your Field (In this Town)

One of your most immediate goals should be to line up with the thought leaders, the movers and the shakers in your geography of interest. Follow their Twitter feeds (and retweet their most interesting stuff), ask questions in geography-specific LinkedIn groups, study the local business journals and try to ascertain the "who's who" in your sector. Head over to Meetup.com and find a gathering (assuming you can pay this town a visit) at which these types gather. Go to said gathering.

Introduce yourself to these people. Politely ask a quick question.

The more efficiently you can meet and align with the key players in your sector, in the town you want or need to move to, the better. This tactic will increase the odds that you'll hear about something you'd not have found otherwise, and give you a solid jump start on making new contacts and friends in your new town.

2. Use the "I'm New Here" Thing to Your Full Advantage

On this same note, by all means, use the "new kid in town" (or, "about to be the new kid in town") thing to your full advantage. I live in Portland, Oregon, and we are one of the most welcoming communities I've ever seen when it comes to helping out the recent transplants.

We all tend to root for the new guy. We want him to win, and we'll go out of our way to help him (or, of course, her). That being the case, be sure and use your "I'm going to be moving there soon" status as your door-opener when working to start conversations and figure out what's what and who's who in this new geography. 

3. Find a Recruiter Who Specializes in Your Field, In the Town You're Targeting

You're for sure not going to be any sort of an expert on which employers are amazing and which ones to steer clear of when you're looking in a new town. Likewise, you're probably not going to have many direct or indirect connections to people on the inside of companies of interest.

That said, you may find tremendous value in figuring out who the top recruiters are in this new town, especially the ones that represent clients, industries and / or job functions in which you're most interested. Call them up and introduce yourself.

One of the primary functions of a recruiter is to go out and find talent that aligns with their clients' current job openings. If you contact one who specializes in your sector, and introduce yourself proactively, you're likely doing them a favor -- you're taking one step out of the job that they're paid to do (go find you).

4. Find a Few Companies You Love, And Then Get to Their People

And don't just look for the obvious ones. (e.g. Nike = Portland, General Motors = Detroit, and so forth). Everyone and their brothers will be applying for jobs at the smack-in-the-forehead obvious employers in your future hometown.

Instead, try and uncover smaller regional (or local) firms that are doing work that you love (and have experience doing) and seem to have amazing corporate cultures. Pick your top 3-5 and then set about a plan to introduce yourself to people working in roles you admire, at companies you're eyeing.

You don't have to be weird or too in their faces as you approach. Simply introduce yourself, alert them that you're moving to town (Here's that "I'm the new guy" thing again), and see if you can ask a couple of questions about the company and / or their specific roles there.  

5. Make Your Plans Clear in Your Cover Letter

Employers sometimes wonder "What the heck?" when an out-of-town (or out-of-state) candidate applies for their open positions, especially if they have no budget dollars or plans to offer any sort of relocation package. Thus, unless you explain right out of the gates the reason why this gal from Tampa is applying for a job in Duluth, decision makers may swiftly dump your resume into the "no" pile before they've given it a second glance.

If you're specifically targeting one particular geography -- and, especially, if the wheels are already in motion for you to move there, you should clarify this in the cover letter. Imply that the wheels are already in motion and that this move is imminent. That way, you immediately and proactively ease worries on the part of the decision makers as to why you're applying, and if you're going to expect a handsome relocation package.

Try something like this: 

"As I prepare for a family relocation to Minneapolis, I've discovered that XYZ Company is currently looking for a senior project manager..."

Simple, and to the point.

Keep in mind that no one on the receiving end is a mind reader. They don't just automatically know why you're applying for a role so far from your current residence. Make this step easy for them.

While you may wish to sit behind the safety of your laptop screen and just apply for job after job that looks cool in the town that you're targeting, you're going to do yourself a HUGE favor by taking on a more proactive, networking-based approach.

Get on their radar. Endear yourself. And see if that doesn't get things moving along a bit faster.

Because, remember: Everyone roots for the new kid in town.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Austin Kirk)

How to Satisfy Your Entrepreneurial Spirit (Without the Terror of Going it Alone)

This post is sponsored by Aflac. I was compensated for writing it, but all opinions are 100 percent mine.

So many of us dream of taking control of our careers in a way we often can’t when employed by another company (vs. working for ourselves). We’re given limited opportunity to do our jobs in ways that are even a smidge outside of the box. We’re expected to be at our desks for these precise hours every day. We have little or no control over our incomes or salary growth.

For all these reasons, entrepreneurism can seem like a mighty appealing career option—until you factor in the risk. And the potential for feeling isolated and under-supported. And the scariness of having to learn the many (MANY) things required to operate a successful business.

For a lot of professionals high on entrepreneurial spirit and drive, these possible downsides will outweigh the potential upside to the point that they stay on the side of safety, in those jobs with limited flexibility, no room for growth, and little freedom or control.

But, what if there were a way to take command over your career and salary without the terror of going it alone?

Come to find out, there is. 

More and more companies today – including some of the largest, best-known brands in the world – are out looking for professionals with this hunger, drive and entrepreneurial spirit. They’re looking for people to help their organizations grow and thrive, while simultaneously offering roles (plenty of them are sales-related) that enable professionals to operate in much the same way a full-on business owner does, yet with the training, tools and ongoing support that small business owners rarely receive when going it alone.

(I can vouch for this – My primary “training” when I launched my first business involved searching the internet for hours, until I found the help or answers I needed.)

We’ve joined up in a campaign with one such company, Aflac. 

Aflac is a Fortune 500 insurance firm whose agents are all independent contractors – or entrepreneurs. But the key here is this – they’re entrepreneurs who are gaining that flexibility, freedom and earning potential while also enjoying optional company-provided training, tools and hands-on support to help ensure that they’re successful in their roles.

Sound like your cup of tea?

You can learn more about it right HERE:

 

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Aflac agents are independent agents and are not employees of Aflac.
FORTUNE 500 is a registered trademark of Time Inc. and is used under License. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Aflac.

 

Z160604G2 12/16

Ranting: Cathartic (Maybe), But It Won't Land You a New Job

Over the weekend, I was looped in (read: dragged in) to a politically charged Facebook thread. It was one of those posts in which the initial author gets everyone revved up and then his responders spend the day trying to enlighten one another (or put one another in their places), in suppppperrr long rants back and forth (think: 500+ word blobs of text).

Always terrific fun.

I admittedly could not, would not, did not read through the entire thread (because: BAKING, PEOPLE. I was baking), but I did catch the gist of why I was being copied into the conversation -- It was a post intending to get small business owners all fired up about the taxes we're unfairly paying and how outrageous the entire system is. If I understood correctly, it was assumed that I was going to jump in and gripe and complain about my hard earned money being wrenched from my clutches and used in stupid ways by the government.

I did not get sucked in. I made one quick response about how I believe I'm here on this earth to support and help others, both through the services I offer and the tax dollars I contribute. And then I went back to my cookie baking.

Does that mean I'm not annoyed when stories of wasteful government hit the media? Nope. Does it mean I'm a Socialist? Nope. Does it mean I don't pay attention to or care about what's going on in my country, in our world? Absolutely not.

It means that I refuse to spend a precious Saturday blowing hot air out onto Facebook, because it doesn't just waste my time ... 

... it doesn't do anything to improve the situation.

These characters spent at least half of their Saturday madly attempting to set one another straight (which, as we all know, is not going to happen on FACEBOOK), to get the other guy to "see the light."

And at the end of the day, guess what? Nothing was different, for any of them. Sure, you had a half dozen people feeling significantly more riled up than they had earlier in the day, but from the standpoint of actually making an improvement or change, not one of them made their personal situations any better.

A similar thing plays out sometimes among frustrated job seekers.

When you're trudging through a lengthy job search, it can start feeling tremendously unjust. You may feel angry at HR people for being so impersonal, at hiring managers who judge you unfairly, at the software system that weeds you out without even giving you a chance, at the U.S. government for shipping so many jobs overseas, or at robots for doing things faster, more accurately and cheaper than we mere mortals can. (Don't be mad at robots. They're awesome.)

You may rant and rave to anyone who will hear you out.

And this is understandable. There's a lot to get angry about when you get down to it, because the overall staffing and recruitment system (much like the system that decides on the formulas for who pays what in taxes) is convoluted and imperfect. It's messy. It's overly complicated. It doesn't always deliver fair results. It's a beast.

But guess what? It's the system we're working with right now.

Given this, you really have a few choices:

  1. Get mad at how the system works and complain and complain about how unfair or bad or stupid it is (a la the Facebook rant), 
     
  2. Decide that you're not willing to play this game, and find another way to earn a living (e.g. start your own small business, so long as you can deal with the aforementioned "paying taxes" part), or
     
  3. Accept that you're dealing with a messy, imperfect system, and figure out strategies that enable you to move forward in spite of its messiness and imperfectness.

I mean, that's really it. Sure, you can commit yourself to helping the universe make a better system -- for both job search and for the tax code -- but that's probably not going to improve your personal situation in the short-term. 

So, what are you going to do?

Are you going to spend hours and hours griping about the ugliness of the system, or find tangible ways to improve your situation, take control and roll forward?

I vote the latter all day long.

I'm sure you do, too.

Please know that my heart is truly with every frustrated job seeker. Every one of you. I know it's ridiculously hard and overly complicated. I know that it's not fair. I know it shouldn't be about your age, or what you look like or if match up exactly to the job description or not (because, who does?) And I know that the technology that supports the staffing process benefits the hiring companies much more than the job seeker. (Because, duh, that's where the money is.)

But I also know it's not hopeless. I've worked with and seen so many, many people who have won at this, even when they were quite certain everything was working against them. Even when all they wanted to do was yell and kick and scream about how awful it all is.

I've helped them build strategies. I've redirected their energy toward activities that will actually move them forward. I've helped them negotiate better offers or launch small businesses. And I've raised a glass (both in person and virtually) to celebrate with them when they prevail. 

And I will gladly break away from my cookie making to help you do the same.

If you're interested ...

We're just about to begin booking new clients into January 2017. If you want to strategize on your job search (or throw around some ideas to launch your own business in the new year), I invite you to grab one our (few) remaining December consult slots right HERE

You are not broken, the system is. Let's get you into something great regardless.