Exit Gracefully (Part 2)


The Right Financial Plan

Quitting a job is always an option, but it may not be the best option. First, get the facts. Review your employee handbook and/or schedule a confidential appointment with human resource professionals to get details on employment benefits, insurance, and compensation for unused vacation days. Ask about keeping, cashing or rolling over your 401(k) or other pension plan. And be sure to anticipate the date of your last paycheck.

The Right Conversation

Unless your boss or supervisor is the reason you’re quitting, have an honest conversation. Ask for a brief, confidential meeting. Ideally, your working relationship is respectful and you can discuss your situation with management. Practice your “why I need to leave” speech. Clearly communicate why you plan to accept (or look for) another opportunity.

It’s easy to imagine that the boss can’t get by without you and will beg you to stay, but don’t count on it. Still, give your employer a chance to consider the cost of losing you and the opportunity make a counter offer.

The Right Job Search

A stealth job search with support from trusted professionals and peers is the wise way to plan an exit. Throughout your career, build a network, keep your skills current and update your resume. Schedule job interviews on your lunch hour or after work or use that cache of unused vacation time.

Share your plans selectively. You might be surprised how quickly word gets back to your current employer when you reveal your thoughts or plans on Facebook or LinkedIn.

The Right Transition

Commit to the job you have as long as you have it. A smooth transition includes an offer to train your replacement. It’s easy to check out mentally before you’re officially out the door. Resist that urge. As long as you are a professional and as long as you deposit the company’s paycheck, earn it.

The Right Incentive

Do the math. A potential salary increase of 10 to 15 percent seems like a fortune. But before you grab that brass ring, consider the full benefit package offered by another company. After taxes, how much is the increase? Is the commute shorter or longer? What are the new company’s contributions to a pension, 401(k) or medical plans? Will you need a new wardrobe? A salary increase is alluring, but the benefit package is a silver lining. 

The Right Resignation Letter

If your decision to quit is firm and thoughtful, return to the task of writing and editing your resignation letter. Shred the previous draft. Skip the drama. It’s foolish to blame or complain. Make the final letter: 

• Clean and lean
• Positive and professional
• Brief and to-the-point

Use your own words, but stick to the bare essentials. As an example:

The (number of) years I’ve been associated with you and (company) as an administrative professional have been rewarding. But after careful consideration, I have decided it is time for me to make a change.

Please accept my resignation, effective (date). I regret any inconvenience this causes and I will be happy to assist during a transition.

If you want to say you’ve accepted another position, that’s OK. But remember, the decision is professional, not personal.


Voluntary Retirement: The Early Exit

Is it time for you to leave the party? 

After years of employment, moving into the next phase of life can be an exciting change and a financially frightening one.

Now that people are living longer and mandatory retirement is illegal in most cases, millions of mature adults are hanging on to careers and joining a new age—the Age of the Un-Retired.

Does age discrimination in the workplace still exist? Not legally, says Jan Cullinane, co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to The Rest of Your Life.

The key issue, though, is not age. It's attitude.        

Age And Attitude

If we have been in the workplace for decades, the questions you need to ask yourself are strictly personal:

Am I outdated and set in our ways?

Do I earn higher wages, yet have less energy and more health issues?

Am I counting the months/years until I can retire?

Am I resisting change, clinging to old ideas, or worse, lacking passion for the job?

If any of these are harsh (but honest) realities, should you stay? Or should you go? 

Terrifying And Tempting

The recent economy inspired companies to offer early retirement or “buy outs” in place of layoffs. Despite tempting incentives, such as opening a door for younger employees, voluntary retirement can be a terrifying leap. Still, those who have opted for an early exit say the benefits of time and personal growth are many. There's time for family, travel, community service, education, a part-time job, a fitness program and other long-postponed pursuits. Some retirees, both men and woman, trade a working wardrobe for an apron and learn new culinary skills, sometimes in France or Italy.

The Budget Test

Only you can say whether you should or shouldn’t plan an early exit. Don't leap with your eyes closed, but resist letting the fear of change stop you from exploring the options. Consider your mind, body and spirit. A talk with your HR department and your financial advisor is a critical first step. Then go to wwww.secondact.com and take The Retirement Budget Test.

(This post originally appeared as an article in the March/April 2012 issue of OfficePro magazine. Martha McCarty is an author, journalist, columnist and contributing book critic.)