A graceful exit – how to quit your HR job

by Victoria Bruce17 Mar 2016
HR professionals are old hands at accepting staff resignations – but when it comes to orchestrating one’s own resignation and exit strategy, how can HR professionals “gracefully” exit their organisation?
Lisa Morris, Senior Regional Director of Hays Human Resources sits down the HC Online to share her top advice on how to devise a winning exit strategy.
“When it comes to resigning the most important point to remember is that it is not the time to air grievances,” Morris says.
“After all, it’s important to resign without burning your bridges.” 
She says that’s because your reputation in your current role can play a factor in obtaining subsequent jobs.
“Even if you’ve already secured your next job, you’ll still need good references in the future,” Morris says.

“So you will need to exit “gracefully” and with professionalism.”
The first step HR professionals should take is to write their resignation letter, which acts as a legal document stating the date from which you wish your notice period to begin.
“You may want to add an extra sentence or two thanking your boss for the opportunities you've been given, and expressing your regret. There is no need to elaborate any further,” Morris says.
Then Morris recommends picking the best time to hand the letter to your manager in person and take the time to discuss with her or him why you are leaving.
The best way to steer the conversation is to focus on the opportunity to grow your skills and experience.
“Your boss may be disappointed to lose a good staff member and acknowledge your hard work during your employment, but explain you now need to focus on your career progression,” Morris says.
“In some organisations, your resignation letter is not received by your line manager. But it’s still a courtesy to inform your immediate manager in private and in person first.”
But HR professionals should not treat their resignation as an opportunity to bring up past grudges, and this could undo years of hard work.
“And don’t begrudge a lack of salary increase or bonus – it could be the result of the broader economic environment – and your manager might not have been given one either,” Morris says.
“Let your boss decide how your contacts will be informed of your resignation,” she says.
“Don’t assume you can tell everyone immediately. When you can, tell them in a professional manner and with tact.”
Finally, don’t expect your current employer to waive your notice period so you can start your new job earlier. By serving your notice period you can hand-over to the new recruit, which is a big help to a business.

For HR professionals wanting to move on to bigger and brighter challenges, it can pay to have a job lined up before you quit, however Morris says there are pros and cons to this approach.

“For financial reasons most people prefer to have another job lined up before they resign,” she says.

“In addition, selling your personal brand is easier when you’re employed as employers prefer to hire someone who is currently working, as you are in a stronger negotiating position when you are employed,”

She says an unemployed candidate will only have an advantage if the position really needs to be filled immediately and he/she has the right skills.

However, Morris notes that some people find it difficult to conduct a job search while in a current role.

“After all, when you are at your current job, it should be your primary focus,” she says, noting that underperforming in your existing job will harm your reputation.

“The best employees always strive to finish strong and leave on a positive note.”

Also, all it takes is one inappropriate email or phone call at work to alert others that you're considering leaving.

“You also need to be careful about updating your social media profiles – if you update a profile when you haven’t done so in two years it can signal that you are looking for another job,” Morris says.

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