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How to resign and exit - advice from a headhunter

How to resign and exit - advice from a headhunter
Submitted by mmkcn_admin on

Receiving an employment offer from a desired company is exciting, but another challenge immediately pops up – how do you resign and settle the last day with your current employer? How to smoothly handover and exit without being too hasty? This article will provide some insight and advice to professionals who may be facing this unsettling period.

Confirming the offer

After getting the desired offer, instead of being indulged in happiness and sharing this good news with friends and families, make sure you confirm the offer. As most middle to senior positions are handled by headhunters, the offer actually consists of two parts: oral offer and letter offer. When the employer identifies a suitable person, the recruiter will have the headhunter to call the candidate and align the salary expectation. A tricky situation can occur where headhunters usually ask for a salary expectation range, with highest and lowest number specified, and then give this range to recruiter for offer salary proposal. The recruiter will make a proposal with a figure once they receive the salary expectation range, and have the headhunter double check if the person will take this figure. Upon hearing this number, some candidates would assume it’s a solid offer and resign. However, they ignore the risk that the proposed figure by the recruiter may not be the final offer number. As the recruiter knows the salary expectation range of the candidate and if the original proposed offer number is not approved as expected, they may go for the lower figure, assuming it is acceptable. When the final number is lower than the expected number, yet the professional has already resigned, it could lead to an awkward situation. The suggested practice is to co-operate with the headhunter and be transparent by communicating any changes during the process. Only resign after seeing the final offer number as well as other conditional/unconditional entitlements and perks on the offer letter.


Quitting can be an embarrassing, difficult and even intimidating experience. A resignation is split into: face-to-face and official written resignation.

Although there are solid reasons to leave the current company, most people are still emotionally attached and want to resign “softly”. First, they usually try to have an informal talk with their line manager, expressing or hinting at reasons for leaving, then bring up the resignation during an appropriate time. This is ethically correct, but might cause unnecessary trouble and embarrassment.

Most standard notice periods are one month, however middle positions take around one month to refill and senior positions take longer than that. The line manager will always want to ask the person leaving to stay longer until they find a replacement. Some of them do this directly, whilst others do it indirectly and inappropriately; for example, by delaying the official resignation discussion or have other extreme (or even dramatic) reactions.

Professionals can prepare the resignation letter in advance to make sure the resignation process is smooth and efficient. If the line manager is cooperative, they can first go through the face-to-face resignation and then submit the resignation letter after confirming the last day and handover plans. If the line manager is unreasonable or aggressive, it would be better to submit the resignation letter and clarify that this resignation letter is effective immediately. This allows the person to protect their one month notice period and be able to join their future company on time.

Last-day, On-board date, and reference check

After signing the offer and submitting the resignation letter, candidates need to confirm their final working day and start the handover process. When the last working day has been confirmed, they will need to notify future employers of the exact start date, prepare paperwork and cooperate with the reference check procedure.

As explained, some line manager may over-react about a resignation - consequently professionals may need to communicate with their future employer regarding references. In this case, it’s worth preparing alternative referees such as an ex-line manager, major stakeholders who are at line manager’s seniority, or other people that you have close working relationships with.

Farewell if possible

If the process has been carried out properly and the situation allows, it is good to say farewell to your current line manager. Although it’s not the trend, there are still cases that professionals re-join their previous companies, therefore maintaining an amicable relationship during the resignation process is necessary, meaningful and polite.