24 Apr 2018

The right time to resign...

Is there ever a good time to resign? Discuss.

I’ve got a situation at the moment where a great candidate has been offered a great job. She loves everything about the new job and if it weren’t for a pesky notice period, the new employer would take this said candidate tomorrow.

However, the candidate is a really nice person.  Lovely. Whilst she doesn’t like her current job and feels that it wasn’t ‘sold’ to her honestly,  she doesn’t want to let her current employer down.  The candidate has an important role and there are many ongoing projects that are critical for the agency and their key client.

New employer wants a start date.  Candidate wants to hold off resigning until the biggest project is out of the way – in a weeks’ time.  Thus delaying the start date. 


The harsh advice is to resign immediately.  Your loyalty is to your new employer. You are not happy in the existing role.  It’s why we have notice periods – it’s their problem (the existing employer) to replace you, not yours.

No-one really likes resigning. Well, not really.  It’s what can be classed as a ‘difficult conversation’ and I’ve yet to meet anyone who really relishes those. 

Whilst I’d like to advise total transparency and honesty with the new employer.....don’t expect understanding in all cases.  Whilst the new employer may say ‘great, what a nice and professional person I have just offered a job to’, they may equally say ‘what the hell, do you want this job or not’.  

So the situation needs to be managed carefully.  Any new employer expects that as soon as an offer has been accepted, a start date is then agreed.  If there is any stalling over the start date, that sets people off worrying....and that’s not a good basis of trust for the new employer and employee.

You can always try the honest route first and see how it goes down. After all, the worst the new employer can say is ‘we need you sooner’ although they may also see it as a sign that you’re not that bothered about the offer and renege that offer...but that really is worst case. Usually some mediation is possible.

However, don’t be surprised if the new employer does request that you resign immediately. They need to know you are on board, need to know that they can stop their search, let the other candidates in the running know...they need to tell their clients that they have solved the recruitment issue and all is tickety boo.  They need to know that you really really want to work for them!  New employers seldom understand loyalty to an existing employer over them – your new employer.

The other consideration is that you’ll give yourself a week or so of additional nerves - feeling dishonest, having conversations about things that you know will not concern you in the future.  My personal view is that it’s usually for the best to put your big pants on and to have that conversation with your existing employer.  Yes, they could march you off the premises, or they could offer you more money, they might shout a bit, give you a guilt trip etc  etc.  But at this point, you should be thinking about number one.  Once it’s done, you’ll be able to look forward to the future, and it’s not your problem anymore. 

PS.  That all sounds a bit harsh.  Obviously I’ll caveat this with ‘you must be professional in your conversations at all parts of the process and help out the existing employer with a fabulous hand-over document.  Don’t forget, you may need them for a reference in the future...