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Leaving your job? Do it with class
By JOHN ECKBERG The Cincinnati Enquirer
If the economy is on the way to becoming a job-generating rebound, many companies are preparing for a stream of departures.

But experts caution there is a wrong way and a right way to quit. Most companies remember workers not for why they left -- but how they left. And workers should be mindful of how they might need past employers later in their career.

"People from other companies hear about them. Some industries, regardless of what market you are in, the word gets out."

When a worker uses a company as a steppingstone and leaves the "stone" a little wet but still stable, the employer usually understands. But if the worker's departure is messy or sudden, companies are less likely to forget or forgive.

Justin R. Beck, marketing director for Rippe & Kingston, a Cincinnati accounting and systems consulting firm, has worked for firms where employees are ushered out the door minutes after they give notice.

Other companies expect workers to hang around for at least two weeks to break in their replacements and alert clients that a new staffer will be assigned to accounts.

"When it's a sales type role or an external position, it's important to at least give the company time to recover," Beck said. "If you don't, there will be a black cloud over you for the rest of your life - at least in that company's eye."

Workers who are headed to a new job should prepare themselves for a swirl of emotions between the time they decide to leave and the time they actually do leave, said Benjy Weisenburgh, executive recruiter/information technology with Messina Management Systems.

They are accustomed to being in a subservient role to a boss, and by quitting they will feel they are challenging authority.

"In reality, during a resignation you are on a peer level with your manager as you are stating that you will no longer work for him or her," Weisenburgh said.

Departing employees need to realize they are in an emotionally vulnerable state when they leave. Most counter-offers - which, incidentally, Weisenburgh says should be rejected out-of-hand - come four days before the departure date.

"That is when anxiety is very high and second thoughts can creep into reasoning," he said.

If the departing worker has taken at least three personal items home each day in the previous week, his workplace will seem bleaker and as a result, the worker is less likely to be attached to the space.

It's much easier to leave a sterile cubicle than a workstation where photos of loved ones, trinkets from travel or homilies are posted.

Messina Management Systems gives clients a few key tips on leaving:

  • Always give at least two weeks' notice.

  • Resign as soon as you have accepted a new position.

  • Do not give in to unrealistic requests by your soon-to-be old boss.

  • Try to finish big projects.

  • Talk with co-workers about what they need to know after you leave.

The toughest point of any resignation is actually resigning, experts say.

"We've seen people turn down jobs because they have a fear of resigning," said Weisenburgh.

"We tell them that loyalty goes up from the worker to the company. It doesn't often go down. A manager is there for the sake of the manager. An employee is there for the sake of the manager, too."