#AskIvanka: Resigning Gracefully

Ivanka answers our questions for giving notice and leaving on a good note.

Can I wait to give notice until after I collect my bonus? #AskIvankaAs critical as it is to make a good first impression, it’s equally essential to leave on a high note. Here, Ivanka offers her advice for resigning gracefully and walking away on good terms.

Once I’ve decided to quit, who do I tell first?

Always your immediate boss.

Do people still submit physical resignation letters? At what point in the process?

Yes, in a corporate environment, a resignation letter is a necessary formality. There may be a contractual obligation and the accountants or legal team will need to keep the letter on file. Once you’ve sat down with your boss and the people you work with, told them of your decision, and expressed appreciation for the opportunity that they provided you, then you can submit a straightforward and simply-put letter. Not before. And don’t use this as the tool to explain your decision—that’s something that you should do in person.

How much notice should I give?

As you are negotiating your new offer, your new employer will likely pressure you to start as soon as possible. Set the right tone out of the gate and let them know that you are excited to get started, but you can’t leave your current employer and teammates in a lurch. Negotiate as much time as possible and appropriate, based on where you fall within your current organization. This is not only the right thing to do, but it also shows your new employer that you have integrity and are a team player. In the early stages of your career, most companies expect a basic two-weeks notice—although the longer you give, the better. Give as much notice as possible, and during your transition period, go above and beyond for your boss and the team you are leaving behind. Don’t leave early or take time off. Be fully present, even though you’re likely going to be excited to start your new venture. As you move up through the ranks and into management, use your judgement, but two-weeks is not acceptable for anyone in a management or senior position. Executives should always have a good Number 2. One of the tells of a confident leader is that they’ve trained somebody to do large parts of their position—obviously looking at being upwardly mobile themselves. If your replacement isn’t already in place, you should go out of your way to assist your organization in finding someone.

I know I’m going to leave, but bonus season is right around the corner. Can I stay to collect my bonus?

That’s a tricky one. If you’ve earned it according to your company’s policies, you are technically entitled to it. In some organizations, this is a normal course of business and it’s not a big deal. In others, however, you may be leaving a bad taste in your former employer’s mouth. You really need to understand the dynamic you have with your boss and the company, and weigh the pros and cons. For me, ideally an employee would come to me in advance and say, “I’ve been given this position. I’m going to accept it, and I hope you’ll still give me my bonus if you feel that I’ve earned it.” It’s risky and it somewhat depends on your relationship and track record within the company, but as an employer, I will respect your candor.

How important is it not to burn a bridge?

Every job—it doesn’t matter if it’s a summer internship or the first, second, third or fourth position you’ve held in your career—gives you resources. If you stay in the industry, these are the people who will be your supporters and your advocates, the people you will call upon to gain insight, ask questions and seek guidance. I have worked with people who’ve decided they want to do something different with their lives, and I have remained a resource to them and an ally when they need me. You never know what’s going to happen down the line. You have to be thinking about building a network of people who are wishing you well.