“Is it wise to resign because promotion was denied, and without a new job?”

Question: I work in a Silicon Valley software company, and have been raising the issue of promotion for six months now. I was verbally assured that a promotion was in the works, but I just found out it is not going to happen, without clear reason. I am crushed and humiliated, especially considering that others with lower performance have been promoted. I have decided to resign, even though I don’t have a new job yet, since my wife’s income is enough to get us by.

Two Questions (if you don’t mind): First, is not having a job going to place me in a slightly unfavorable position while negotiating the terms of my next job? Second, is resigning because a promotion was denied a fair explanation to a future employer?

Oakland, California

Answer: My experience in negotiating for employees for 25+ years, and my experience as an employer for 25+ years, tell me that the answers to your questions are (1) Yes; and (2) No.

First, is not having a job going to place you at a disadvantage in negotiating new employment? Yes, because of the common-sense, near-universal perception that unemployed people are more eager, if not desperate, to get a new job, especially now, and in California where the unemployment rate is above the national average. To hire a person who is presently employed, a new employer usually believes that he or she must at least match the terms of the existing job, or do better. Your circumstances, your views and your motivations are different than most, but that does not change the fact that most people see unemployed people as “needing” a job, and thus, a bit “needy.” In this, as in many things, “perception is more important than reality.” I say this as a negotiator for employees, as well as an employer.

Second, is resigning because a promotion was denied a fair explanation to a future employer? I would say, “No.” Resigning for this reason, especially without a new job, is so unusual that many prospective employers might not believe you. Worse still, it tells the prospective employer that “If I don’t get the promotion I want from you, I may resign from your company, too.” Finally, since it leaves you without a job, without unemployment insurance (because those who resign do not have a right to it, with few exceptions), and without benefit coverages (though your wife may provide them), it seems to be either done without careful planning, on an uncontrolled urge, and/or due to poor judgment, none of which is flattering to a person seeking a new job.

Perhaps most important, resigning for this reason says to an interviewer “My boss thought I was not deserving of a promotion.” That can’t be helpful.

If you haven’t yet resigned, I urge you to reconsider.

Best, Al Sklover

Resignations can be tricky – and treacherous. To help you, we offer a 100-Point Master Pre-Resignation Checklist. All you need to know and remember. To obtain your copy, just [click here.] – Delivered by Email – Instantly!

© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.