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In Asia, bad things happen to bankers who resign the wrong way

Mouse traps with cheese on old wooden table

Mouse traps with cheese on old wooden table

It’s that time of year here at the US bank I work for in Singapore: bonuses are being paid..and people resigning.

I work in the HR/recruitment team at my bank and I can tell you something for nothing: many people make a complete hash of tendering their resignations.

This is a big problem because Singapore is such a small country. This is not the US or Europe – word gets around quickly if you burn your bridges here.

In Singapore, there’s actually a good chance that in the future you will work with (or even for) your colleagues and bosses again. It therefore pays to leave on the best possible terms.

Having worked in Singapore banking recruitment for more than a decade, here are my tips for resigning the right way.

Do it in the morning

Wherever possible, resign in person to your direct line manager first thing in the morning. If you’re like most people, you will wake up on the morning of your resignation with some butterflies in your stomach. The adrenaline will be flowing because you will either be dreading this meeting or very much looking forward to it.

That’s why it’s best to catch your boss in the morning to ensure you aren’t giving them this news mid-afternoon during a hectic day. A 9:00am coffee will fit the bill perfectly. Book a coffee meeting into your boss’ diary the day before to ensure that they can make it. If your boss is travelling or works in another location then swap coffee for a phone call. Stay away from emails or text messages as this kind of news needs the personal touch.

Keep your plans to yourself

Do not, I repeat do not, tell any colleagues that you are planning to resign before speaking to your boss. It’s impossible to keep this kind of a secret in a bank, so don’t make the mistake of telling your friends or colleagues, even if it’s the night before your resignation. You owe your boss this courtesy at a minimum.

Don’t turn into an internal recruiter for your new bank

Once you’ve resigned and are serving your notice, resist the urge to tell your colleagues all about how awesome your new bank is and how you’d be happy to share their resume with your new boss. This is a big no-no. People will either be excited for you or jealous that you’re leaving. Either way, this is not the time or the place to be recruiting for your new employer. There’s also a good chance that your existing employment contract forbids you from doing this.

Keep doing your job

Now that the news of your departure is out in the open, there’s a temptation to take your foot off the gas, maybe take a few long lunches or sick days after some big nights out at Boat Quay. This is another no-no. Stay the course and finish your notice period as committed as you were when you started your job. Remember, a bad last impression makes for a rotten word-of-mouth reference down the track.

Don’t turn your resignation into a critique of the bank or your boss

Contrary to what you might think, this is not the time to “tell your boss what you think of them” or even to unload on how much you dislike the bank’s current strategy. Your resignation should consist of a statement such as “I would like to thank you and the bank for the support and opportunity that you have presented me… etc”. If you do feel like you need to get some things off your chest, use your exit interview to pass on your feedback in a controlled manner.

Provide honest feedback to your boss… if they ask for it

If you have a good working relationship with your manager they may ask you your reasons for leaving. If they do, it’s fine to provide some honest feedback. Just be wary if your new role offers a lot of things that your current employer simply can’t offer. Keep that in mind to make sure your boss feels it was nothing personal and was just a business decision.

Now for the most important point of all…

No matter how your boss or the bank treats you once you have resigned – whether they turn on you, ignore you for the last month or offer a fantastic farewell – stay classy! There’s simply nothing to gain and everything to lose should you chose to return fire, so play it cool and be remembered for all the great things you accomplished, not the nasty emails or arguments that you engaged in during your last hurrah.

The author has been recruiting for the banking industry in Asia – in both agencies and in-house – for more than 10 years.


Image credit:  xxmmxx, Getty

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