In Job Transitions, Focus On “The Three T’s Of Transition”

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Pablo, 42, was the Regional Ad Sales Director for an Internet Search Engine company. Though his company was one of the first search engines to become publicly traded, its popularity had waned. New arrivals seemed to have the “buzz” and the better product. Business was slow, and getting slower. Over 12 months, there’d been two rounds of layoffs, and he’d survived . . . so far.

Pablo was anxious, and wanted to do “something” to get himself prepared, “just in case” he needed it. He wanted to make sure that any job transition that might take place – whether he left voluntarily after signing on for a new job, or through an involuntary downsizing – be as painless as possible. Maybe, he hoped, the next move would be a positive one, for his career, finances and family. Problem was – he didn’t know where to start. So he came in for a consultation.

LESSON TO LEARN: As we explained to Pablo, effective negotiating at work requires focus; that’s the secret of SkloverWorkingWisdom™. In job transitions, there are three essential concerns to keep in mind, three circumstances that you should focus your thoughts and energies on. They’re what we call “The Three T’s of Transition,” (1) Timing; (2) Terms, and (3) Tone:

Timing: It’s always best to try to time your transition so that you don’t have a gap between jobs, or at least the appearance of a gap. As we all know, it’s easier to look for a job while employed than it is to look for a job while unemployed, because when unemployed and negotiating a new job, you’re negotiating from a position of insecurity and weakness, not strength. And it’s never a good idea to go without income or benefits. So, the first thing you need to coordinate in a job transition is the “timing” of that transition.

Terms: Next, it’s best to try to make sure that you achieve the best possible terms in a job transition. By this we generally mean the most positive severance in job loss, the smartest terms in a resignation from a job, and the best possible terms in a new job. Ideally, taken together, you should try to obtain maximum income, benefits, stock options, employer contributions, and the like.

Tone: Finally, it’s always important to move forward in a positive fashion, and for the “public relations” aspect of transition to be addressed. Business is about bridge-building, not bridge-burning. Your reputation is surely your most important professional asset.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: When Job-Transitioning, here are just a few examples of how you should focus your thoughts, and actions, on Timing, Terms and Tone. Here are a few examples:


If resigning, leave on the first or second of the month: this way, you’ll probably get paid health benefits until the end of the month.

If resigning or being laid off in December, try to delay departure until after January 1st. This may give you another year pension credit, or stock option vesting, and it looks like a full year longer on your resume.

If resigning, check to see if you’re required by agreement to give any certain amount of notice.

If being laid off, check to see if you are required to be given any certain amount of notice by your employer.

If being laid off, try to get your employer to extend your “notice” period as long as possible so that you can, in effect, look for a job from a job.

If being laid off, you might request a non-paid leave of absence during which you still get voicemail and email, to retain the appearance of employment.

Don’t ever consider leaving just a few weeks before pension vesting, stock option vesting, or – especially – bonus payment date.


Ask about receiving a pro-rata portion of this year’s bonus; it’s becoming more and more common to give – so ask.

Make sure you receive payment for all accrued-but-unpaid vacation you’ve earned. Some companies even give unused sick or personal days.

When leaving employment – for any reason – ALWAYS ask to be paid for Accrued But Unused Vacation. Use our “Model Letter Requesting Payment for Accrued but Unused Vacation – with 12 Great Reasons.” It shows you “What to  Say and How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

Check agreements you may have signed to determine if you’re subject to a “non-competition” agreement. If so, consider asking that any such restrictions on your future be waived, or forgiven.

If being laid off, determine if your company has a severance plan or policy entitling you to receive severance benefits.

If leaving voluntarily or involuntarily, if any promises or assurances have been made to you by HR, did you ask that it be put in writing or an email?


You should suggest the language – or better yet, draft yourself – the internal and external announcements of your departure, to make sure it represents you in the most positive possible light.

You should ask individuals if you might use them as personal references, and you might even offer to draft a letter for their signature.

If resigning, you should show special respect to a mentor by notifying him or her first.

If resigning, you should prepare a simple, respectful resignation letter.

You should make a list of all those who’ve helped you in the past on the job, or helped you to get your next job, and written them “Thank You’s.”

Everything you need to think about during a Job Transition can be boiled down to these three categories of concern: Timing, Terms and Tone. With these in mind, your preparations to transition can be more simplified, more focused, and more advantageous to you. And when you know what you want, it’s a lot easier to achieve what you want.

If you would like to obtain a “model” memo or a detailed checklist to help you resign from your job [click here].

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