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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dos and don’ts when leaving for a new job

 EVERYONE has heard of Greg Smith. After all, it's not every day that a top executive at Goldman Sachs resigned in such a public and high-profile way. He told the whole world, via an op-ed piece in The New York Times, that he could no longer stomach the company culture which he described “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it”.

Hailed as a hero by many, especially on the social media sites, Smith was nevertheless also castigated by commentators who questioned his real motive. “The reason he's been at Goldman Sachs for 12 years is that he liked the name and probably liked the money,” one wrote.

We all learn, from day one, that we should never burn our bridges when we part ways with our employers. After all, we no longer live in an era where we serve only one employer throughout our working life.

Rolling stones do gather a lot of moss these days.

So while employers do understand when we move to greener pastures, they are unlikely to be sympathetic to you if you decide to badmouth them on your way out.

And bosses do talk to other bosses, more so if you work in a niche industry where everyone knows, well, everyone.

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen above their booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in this January 19, 2011 file photo. A Goldman Sachs executive director published a withering resignation letter in the New York Times, saying the investment bank is a "toxic and destructive" place where managing directors referred to their own clients as "muppets." - REUTERS
As much as I salute Greg Smith for his courage to place his resignation letter in the public domain, I think the rest of us mortal souls will prefer more down-to-earth advice on how to quit a job.

I am no expert on this but here is a short list of dos and don'ts which may be useful.

1. Don't bash your boss, or your company, on social media or anywhere else

It is amazing how people on FaceBook share so openly about the goings-on in the office, including all the nasty stuff about the bosses. Hello there! If stupidity is an acceptable reason for you to lose your job, the boss will show you the door straight away. Sometimes, even private conversations in public places, like restaurants, can have ramifications beyond your control.

Someone who intends to hire you may have second thoughts as chances are if you say bad things about your previous boss, you are more likely to say the same about him. A good principle to follow is: Don't say anything about anyone in private what you would not say in public.

2. Don't play poker with your offers

After you get an offer, you may be tempted to check if your boss would make you a counter-offer. The people who play poker with their offer letters are those with huge egos who think that the office cannot run without them.

Although some employers may play along and give you the raise you demand, you can be sure that the relationship will never be the same again.

3. Do keep your options open

It has been said that no one leaves a company but a boss. So, while a situation may arise where you no longer find it easy to work with your immediate boss, always remember that circumstances may change which may make it possible for you to return to the company in the future.

So you may have to eat humble pie if your exit remarks are vicious and harmful to the reputation of the company. I can't imagine Greg Smith getting a job at Goldman Sachs again, unless he buys the company.

4. Do be professional to the last day of employment

All of us have to give notice before quitting. It's not as dramatic as what we see in the movies when you are immediately told to pack up and go. So from the time you give your notice until the official last day, conduct yourself with full professionalism. If there are things to pass on, do so in an orderly manner. Say your goodbyes without being too emotional about it.

5. Do stay away from your old office

I got this advice from a friend many years ago. He said it is natural, when you move into a new job, that you will actually regret having made the move. In a new environment, you suddenly yearn for the old job where you are comfortable with friends.

Many make the mistake of going back to hang out with their former colleagues and this only adds to their frustrations. His advice: Make a conscious effort to keep away from your former colleagues for at least six months. Concentrate on your new job and build up new relationships first. Then hanging out with old friends after that won't be so traumatic.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is glad that a new column, Talking HR, is now available on StarBiz every Tuesday. All of us in the working world will benefit from the good advice given by the professionals. 

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