Media recruiting tips: Frankly, Mr Shankly – resigning issues

This article first appeared in Press Gazette

“Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I’ve held
It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
I want to leave, you will not miss me…”

As Morrissey famously illustrated, there are ways to resign, and ways not to. However good for the soul it might be to get back at a boss or a business, it is inadvisable. Resignation is an underestimated part of career management. How you leave will often dictate how you are remembered.

There are some practical media recruiting tips for resigning. First, check your contract before you hand in your notice. Make sure there are no unexpected penalty clauses, bonuses due which won’t be paid if you resign before a certain date, unexpectedly long notice periods, or other nasty surprises. Above all, check for non-compete clauses, and take legal advice if you have any.

Second, your resignation should be in writing. Best practice is to meet your boss face-to-face where possible, but having prepared a letter to hand to him or her at the end of the meeting. As with the letter, try to keep the meeting short and concentrate on the positives – how much you learned, enjoyed working with the team, and so on.

Third, after resignation, some companies hold ‘exit interviews’ as a matter of course. By all means be honest where possible here, but remember that you are leaving and the loyalty is likely to remain with the incumbents.

Finally, you should offer to work your notice and be as co-operative as possible. Some employers are incredibly childish when people leave (one Editorial Director once told me to “get stuffed” when I asked for a reference), but most are professional. If you treat them fairly, they will wish you well in your career.

Your aim is to leave with good grace and to make a good impression. You never know when you will end up back at the same company, or your boss will join your new title. Above all, you need those same people to talk well of you; they will be asked to give references, and your next career move may well come through word of mouth. You don’t want to be remembered as the journalist who pinned the words of Frankly, Mr Shankly to the Editor’s door. Nor as the one that acrostically spelled out “F*ck You Desmond” in their final editorial on leaving the Express – however much your colleagues might admire you in the short term.