CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: My question is about the etiquette of resigning. Should I go to my boss after I have accepted another offer or should I tell him first and then accept?

Q: My question is about the etiquette of resigning. Should I go to my boss after I have accepted another offer or should I tell him first and then accept?

Q: My question is about the etiquette of resigning. Should I go to my boss after I have accepted another offer or should I tell him first and then accept?

Mr. R, Boston, MA

A: Rather than give you the annoying response about it depending on the situation (which it does), let me say that how you resign depends basically on the kind of relationship you have with your boss. If there's no special relationship, accept first and then resign. Otherwise, give your boss the courtesy of saying that you have received an offer that you plan to accept. This gives your boss the chance to manage things internally a little better. It also allows time for your current employer to put together a counter offer, a very touchy zone to enter - and one that should be managed with extreme caution.

I asked Jean Allen, communications practice leader at headhunter Heidrick & Struggles, about this issue. She advises thinking first about whether you are really in the market for a counter offer. 'If there is no way you will entertain a counter, make that clear before everyone goes wild putting one together. Not only does that save your colleagues an effort they will later resent, it also saves you from sending a signal of indecisiveness to your future employer.'

But, if you know in your heart that you might be persuaded to stay, make it clear to everyone involved when you will make your final decision and stick to that timing.

Another word of caution from Jean on counter offers: 70% of those who accept them are apparently gone within the year anyway.



Q: I'm an account executive at a PR agency, and have only recently started making calls to the media.

My problem is that there is one journalist on a major newspaper who refuses to take my calls after I accidentally forwarded the 'Anna Kournikova' virus to him, and it spread through the in-boxes of his entire editorial department. My manager is insisting that we target this guy for an upcoming campaign. How should I resolve the situation?

Ms. T, New York

A: Corrupting journalists' e-mail systems isn't an ideal opener to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. But there is hope. When I was a junior AE, I managed to fax an internal memo full of my boss' unflattering comments about our major client to a journalist. I nearly died worrying about the repercussions, but, ironically, it led to one of my best media relationships. The journalist in question just laughed the whole thing off after listening to my pleadings that he treat it as off the record.

Five years from now, you too will be recounting your story of your first media foul-up with amused hindsight.

The trick now is to diffuse the situation. First, make sure the reason he's not calling you back isn't that he's on extended deadline or vacation.

If you're sure it's because of the virus saga, e-mail a light message expressing your apology and how you hope it won't prevent the two of you from working together in the future as you've just heard something you're sure he'll be interested in. (A caveat: make sure your story is decent.) Fifty bucks says he'll return the e-mail. Journalists can hold grudges, but dangle a sniff of a top story in front of them and they'll find it impossible to resist.





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