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The Classy Resignation – 4 Tips

About a year ago, one of our senior recruiters decided to move onto greener pastures after four extremely productive years with Sales Talent. For a company of our size, this constituted a huge loss. Despite this, the way Erik handled his departure was decidedly positive. Without question, he would be welcomed back to Sales Talent with open arms and he can always turn to us for a positive reference. That experience left me with a lot more than a deep respect for Erik. The steps he took, I’ve used to create a classy resignation playbook. (You can find a more comprehensive list of to-dos when resigning here).

The Classy Resignation – 4 Keys:

1. Don’t Burn Bridges.

From experience, I can tell you that the world is a lot smaller than most of us realize. On multiple occasions, I’ve had a candidate rejected by one of my hiring managers because that sales rep didn’t heed this advice. Well connected sales leaders will probe their network behind the scenes to “get the dirt” on a sales rep. They know someone who knows someone that works at the rep’s current employer. Several phone calls later the candidate is out before they even got a chance to interview. Often they weren’t out because they didn’t perform well but because they had a bad reputation. Now imagine what will happen if a hiring manager does a little digging about Erik. Don’t burn bridges.

2. Show Respect.

The biggest step in showing respect is to resign in person if at all possible. I do understand that this can be very uncomfortable. That’s exactly why you’re going to take this classy path. Your manager will respect you for it and he/she will be much more open to serving as a positive reference in the future. If times don’t allow this, the second best option is to resign on the phone. Emails and texts are an absolute no-no. You’ll come across as inconsiderate and cowardly. Not exactly the last impression you’ll want to leave.

3. Keep it Simple and Stay Positive.

Resigning is not an opportunity to vent all your grievances with your manager, your employer or their products/services. Wrapping bad news (your resignation) in more bad news (all the things you dislike about your job) is a huge negative dump for your boss. Again, you’re going to stay classy. Focus on what is drawing you to this new opportunity and keep your story short and to the point. Thank your boss for the opportunity to work with them and for all the things they taught you. Erik took this one step further. During his time with us, I was constantly sharing books with Erik that I thought would help sharpen his skills. Shortly after leaving he sent me a copy of one favorite authors’ newest books with a thank you note. Classy. Super classy.

4. Tie up Loose Ends.

Going back to Erik’s example, he laid out everything that he was working on and asked the team how he could help make the transition easier for us. Then he actually followed through and did just that.

The Payoff of a Classy Resignation.

When Erik was originally interviewing with me I was impressed but not totally sold on hiring him. As the process unfolded he kept hitting singles and doubles but no aspect of his interviews totally blew me away. That is until it came time for me to call his references. It’s been close to five years since I made the call but I still remember speaking with his former boss from a college internship. He told me that over the years he’d had more interns than he could remember but he remembered Erik. He went on to tell me that Erik always exceeded expectations, went the extra mile and took the time to stay in touch. If Erik took an internship that seriously, how could I not give him an opportunity here at Sales Talent? Flash forward five years from now and I could see myself giving a similar reference about Erik’s time here at Sales Talent.

Blog after blog has been written on building your “personal brand”. Very few of these blogs actually get below the surface to what a personal brand really means. Perhaps the authors never worked with someone like Erik.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

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