So you landed a job? Congratulations!
Depending on your situation, your next steps can be as stressful as finding a job. That’s because resignations, exit interviews, and informing your patients isn’t something you do a lot of.
What’s appropriate in each of these areas?
You aren’t usually required to submit a letter of resignation. But it does speak to your professionalism, help maintain a positive employer relationship, and smoothly transition the position.
Exit interviews can do the same and you should seek for them, regardless of what you want to share.
What about your patients – should they be notified? Can you notify them? Good questions.
Today I will address all three issues.
Letters of Resignation and Exit Interviews
Simplicity is the key to a good letter of resignation. Keep it professional, courteous and, most importantly, pointed.
But it’s also about tone. Don’t dump, or imply, all your negative feelings and experiences on paper. It’s not necessary and you are, in effect, creating a permanent record about something that may change over time or can get worked out in person before you leave.
If you have things to get off your chest, do it in person. But even if you don’t, request an exit interview with your employer. There you can express any appreciation, frustration, or any overall office feedback.
Generally, most employers like exit interviews because the employee feels less intimated to speak about glaring problems. It also gives the employer an opportunity to respond, facilitating a productive discussion. A lengthy letter only presents one side of that and the tone can be misinterpreted.
Remember, the dental community is competitive but often friendly and well connected. You can damage future opportunities if you handle your resignation and exit the wrong way.
Again, my main advice here is to keep everything positive. Frame your problems with the doctor or office in a positive, pleasant, and non-sarcastic tone. Hollywood has glorified “telling off” the boss, but truthfully very little is gained by it.
Letter of Resignation Anatomy
Overall, impress them with your professionalism – keep it short and positive.
- The first paragraph should focus on the subject – that you are officially resigning. Include the date of your final day. Traditionally, this is two weeks from the day you resign, but can be longer as you deem appropriate.
- Paragraph two is a brief opportunity to share the reason for departure. Again, don’t offer up a lengthy or specific list of grievances. In fact, keep it vague such as “seeking a new opportunity.”
- Paragraph three should leave them with forwarding information, where you can be contacted or have final paycheck mailed to, if necessary. It can also include your desire to work out your final schedule or assist with the search or training of a new hire.
- The final paragraph should be some sort of gratitude for the opportunity or well wish for their success.
Anatomy of an Exit Interview
Exit interviews can be of any length, but try to keep it between 15 and 30 minutes. It might be tempting to list out lots of detail but a few examples will suffice and employers simply want trends or big picture feedback.
Like most constructive conversations, start with something sincerely positive so that the employer is open to listening and embracing any negative. You might also include how your experience working there has made you a better employee.
Next, pick out three areas where you feel improvement could be made. Offer up ideas or solutions that would fix the problems. And then be open to discussing this at length with the employer if they seem engaged.
Finish your interview the same way you finish your letter with a brief expression of gratitude and hope for their future success.
A standard resignation gives an employer at least two weeks notice. This can be extended if you feel circumstances warrant. But ensure the date on your letter and the final date are clearly posted with no confusion.
Don’t use phrases like “planning to leave in a couple weeks” or “when you have found a suitable replacement I will move on.” You want it to be definite and specific.
When selecting a final day, remember the office needs enough notice to launch a search to fill your position. And, offer up any potential candidates you feel would be a good fit.
Contacting Former Patients
From time to time, hygienists ask me about contacting their patients either before or after they leave. This is uncertain territory – situations are different. Some doctors are extremely protective of their business and hurt financially with your departure.
I would highly recommend you discuss this topic with your employer so that intentions are well understood. The last thing you want is for the employer to perceive falsely that you are trying to “steal” or influence their patients away from them. They know you have a powerful influence on many patients who become loyal friends.
Not to go off on a tangent here, but I personally feel some dental employers do not fully grasp this until faced with the reality. They would do well to create a work culture and environment where their hygienist is happy and incentivized to stay.
At the end of the day, respect your employer. Regardless of how bad your relationship is or how good your connection is with your patients, you really shouldn’t engage in efforts to lure patients away.
Leave it up to the patient when they learn of your departure. Having said that, if you are approached at the grocery store it’s generally within your right to let a patient know you have left.
Likewise, an office should be willing to disclose to an inquiring patient that you have left and where you went or how to contact you. Unfortunately, these two things don’t always happen due to fractured relationships.
But it should be the ideal and each party should behave ethically and always take the high road, even when wronged.
Take great care in your departure from an office. Provide a formalized letter of resignation, request an exit interview if one is not suggested by the employer, and leave on a positive note. Prioritize the relationship over pent up anger and frustration so that if you ever need their support in the future that you can have it.
Bonus Tip: Unless you have a damaged relationship, ask for a letter of reference or short testimonial when you leave every job. They may come in handy down the road. Get one from co-workers, too. They provide valuable third-party insight into how great you are or were to work with.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.