When do I resign - now or after my vacation?
April 10, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

I was offered a job at a place I've been looking at for quite some time. While I'm over the moon, I'm not sure how to resign from my current gig. Advice?

My current position, while productive and high-responsibility, is within a company with a toxic work environment and virtually no project management. I come home frustrated and often in tears. I'm incredibly happy to be leaving and am looking forward to the pay boost and change in scenery with the new employer.

I've had an extended twelve-day (partly unpaid) vacation planned for a while now and am due to depart this week. I can't change my bookings and have already cleared the vacation with HR at my current employer. I would like to give my current employer the courtesy of sufficient notice. Would it be better to resign and provide five weeks' notice before I leave, or should I wait until I return to inform my supervisor and give them two weeks?

Also, the people to whom I report are emotionally compulsive and I expect them to react with angry surprise and possibly vengeance at my news. I'm bad with words. Are there any magic phrases I can keep in my head so that I keep my cool and don't burn my bridges? As much as I disliked my current job, I'd benefit greatly from maintaining a good reference. I've never resigned from a high-responsibility position before - it's not quite the same as quitting my old high school gig.

Any general advice regarding resignation is appreciated. I'm terrified but excited.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Resign before your vacation. Hand in the straightforward resignation letter.

Honestly, while you can arm yourself with phrases like, "This is a move I have to make to further my career, but I really value the time I've spent here" you don't owe anyone any explanations.

If it's really that toxic an environment, you won't be able to leave without feeling like you're burning bridges. If they will get pissed if you leave, and you are leaving, that's it.
posted by Gucky at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2010

second that, but if it's that toxic be prepared for them to A) try to shaft you on the vacation pay (i.e. dont spend yourself broke on holiday) and B) they might find someone to replace you while you're away and give you no notice. (i.e. you might not have a job to come back to. again, be financially prepared to handle a 'longer vacation' until the new job starts)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2010

Wouldn't it be a better idea to wait until after your vacation to submit your notice of resignation? That way you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about any monkey business while you're away.

How much notice do you need to give to resign from your position? Couldn't you ask your current employer what a reasonable transition period is?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:51 AM on April 10, 2010

You're very wise to avoid burning any bridges, as you never know when their goodwill will be important in the future. With that in mind, I would suggest resigning before your vacation, so they have maximum notice that they will need to fill your position.

Here's the easy part: resignations should always be done by letter. Since you can always leave the letter on your boss's desk after he/she has left for the day, you won't have to deal with any angry surprise. In fact, you could even deliver the letter right before you depart for your vacation.

In the letter, you of course want to state the effective date and emphasize that you will do whatever you can to assure an orderly transition to your replacement. I think it's good form to mention some of the positive things you've gained from working there and how much you regret having to leave some of your projects unfinished. You needn't mention anything about your new position, as it's none of their business. You most definitely do not want to write anything about why you're leaving; if they want to conduct an exit interview with you, they will let you know.

There is always the possibility that they will ask you to depart before the date you've suggested as your last day, but in the US the typical pattern is to pay you through to that last day.
posted by DrGail at 10:52 AM on April 10, 2010

Resign when you come back - giving two weeks notice. 5 weeks is too much, everything changes when you've submitted your resignation, so you want to keep that time short. Two weeks is standard.
posted by nightwood at 10:55 AM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Give them two weeks. It's more than fair/standard.

As sexyrobot says, you run the risk of them screwing you on vacation pay. If they're really as reactionary and vengeful as you say they are, your boss may come back with "well, you don't have to give notice. Today is your last day." If they don't do that, you may spend your vacation worrying about if you even have a job to go back to. Many people take their PTO before resigning for this very reason.

Go, and enjoy your vacation with the knowledge that you'll be giving your two weeks upon your return.
posted by AlisonM at 10:56 AM on April 10, 2010 [9 favorites]

I'm joining the camp that says resign after you return. they might ask you to cancel your vacation so you can help find your replacement.
posted by lester at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2010

If they're really as reactionary and vengeful as you say they are, your boss may come back with "well, you don't have to give notice. Today is your last day."

Agree! I've seen this happen several times.
posted by jgirl at 11:27 AM on April 10, 2010

can i change my vote? yeah, wait 'till you get back...even if they get cheesed that they could have used your vacation to find a replacement, you have a new job already lined up...their reference isn't going to do you any good until you're looking for your next job, at which time, if the environment is really that toxic, there might not even be anyone left there that knows you...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:34 AM on April 10, 2010

Do NOT tell them before you leave. That's just asking for them to screw you.

You come back from vacation, and turn in your resignation. If the place is toxic, then you should realize you have no responsibility to them whatsoever. If they've made you cry for "quite some time", then you should relish this opportunity to stick it to them.
posted by Netzapper at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2010

I'm in the two weeks is standard camp (unless it isn't in your industry) - no reason to give them any extra time to find ways to mess with you and for God's sake enjoy your vacation and look forward to moving on!
posted by cestmoi15 at 12:08 PM on April 10, 2010

Absolutely AFTER the vacation.
posted by dejah420 at 12:25 PM on April 10, 2010

Piling on -- wait until you get back. You'll be able to enjoy your vacation that much more, without worrying about any shenanigans going on behind your back, and two weeks is standard and fair.

Think about the reverse -- would this company give you the same courtesy of 5 weeks notice before laying you off? No. You don't owe them anything more than 2 weeks.

Congrats on the new job, and enjoy your vacation! I have to admit, I'm jealous of both :)
posted by cgg at 12:27 PM on April 10, 2010

Don't resign before vacation. They could very well fire your ass right then and there and you'd be out the paid leave. Definitely, come back suntanned and happy and hand-in the resignation then.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2010

Every time I've ever given two weeks notice I've been shown the door within a day or two. I've never actually managed to work for the two weeks. If the environment is that toxic I think odds are good they'll want you gone immediately. So you need to balance being professional with looking out for your best interests. Two weeks is the absolute most notice I would give. You've earned the vacation. Taking it and then quitting when you come back is not in any way unprofessional.
posted by COD at 1:02 PM on April 10, 2010

Isn't vacation time typically earned leave? If she's earned the hours and it's in her employment agreement, they'd need to pay her out if they fire her, right?

Not that I'm disagreeing with most of the opinions. Take the leave and then resign.
posted by amanda at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2010

I once had a dream job. Loved the work, loved the people. Then, over time, it changed. I changed, too. I decided that I wanted to move on. Did I have another job lined up? No. But I knew that I wanted to get out of my then-current situation.

This was a small company, and I was moderately high in the ranks. I gave them six weeks notice. I know a lot of people are cringing or picking their jaws up off the floor. I liked my boss, I liked the company. I had total and complete faith that they would meet their end of the bargain.

They did.

That was almost ten years ago. I've worked at a variety of places since then. Not one of them have I trusted with that kind of notice. My first job was great. Most jobs since have been rather average. Such is life.

Go, have a great vacation. The first day back, tell them you're giving your two weeks'. It's professional and courteous. You don't owe them anything more than that.

Oh, and @amanda: Yes, it is (though there's some possibility that could depend on where in the world anonymous is from). But the onus is on you (the former employee) to pursue the issue.
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:28 PM on April 10, 2010

Definitely wait until you get back from vacation. It's too dangerous otherwise. You will *never* see your work computer again if you resign before you leave.

That said, you never know what will happen, and time lessens all wounds. I've been able to make up with a former employer, who hated me whom I hated, over the last couple of years after doing a couple of favors for them. It took five years, but having them in my debt, and knowing their regret, now gives me enormous satisfaction.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:21 PM on April 11, 2010

Oh yeah, 100% wait until you come back. As others have said, with that level of toxicity, there's a definite chance they won't want you around for the full five weeks--plus, being gone for 12 days is 12 days of time for people to get angry and mutter about you, without you around for any damage control.

2 weeks is standard, and enough. Also, you don't have to tell them when the job offer came in--for all they know, things were finalized while you were out of the office on vacation. (Note that I'm not advocating outright lying, although it's up to you how to handle that if you are asked.)

I would advise against leaving a letter of resignation without saying it in person. You should have this typed up and ready, but it's not going to do you any favors to not give your bosses the courtesy of telling them in person. When you've finished your "wanted ot let you know i'm leaving, it's not you, it's me, etc etc" talk, mention that you'll have an official letter of resignation to them by the end of the day at the end of the conversation, and follow through.

In terms of magic, phrases, Gucky's is great. One other thing I'd suggest is to make sure to maintain that party line even in speaking to colleagues after The Talk -- it's tempting to say the good-sounding official stuff to the top brass, then roll your eyes with a coworker at the water cooler and mutter all about how relieved you are to be leaving, but again, offices love gossip, and you won't be around to do damage control in the days following. Be polite and professional, and tell coworkers that "it's a professional move," etc., until you're actually out of the company's employ.

Congrats on the dream job and vacation, and good luck!
posted by alleycat01 at 4:42 PM on April 11, 2010

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