What to do when a star employee leaves

Resignation letters are most often met with despair, a pinch of panic, a dash of disappointment and a touch of anger. But while the loss of talent and the cost of replacement in time, energy and money weighs heavy on our minds, are we focusing on the wrong things? Goodbye can mean opportunity to do things differently and the sooner we embrace this, the better.

For some reason, there seems to be a universal dragging of the chain when it comes to recruiting for a position, especially when a valued staff member is leaving. Management delay telling staff, defer telling clients and sit on replacement personnel requests as they ponder team structure, skill set needed and whether they can downgrade that position and salary. However, the key to successfully managing a staff member’s exit is to set about replacing them as quickly as possible.


Get on the front foot

With standard contracts only requiring a four-week notice period, that’s four short weeks to get a position approved, description confirmed, job ad loaded, CVs shortlisted, interviews completed and offers made – and that’s the short version. While it seems a bit harsh, agreeing a replacement position and job description immediately after a resignation letter has been accepted significantly decreases the lag time between outgoing and incoming employees.

Resignations also present an opportunity to think about doing things differently. You can take the opportunity to think through how the job could be done more effectively and what skills you can add to the job to make it even better for the organisation. Proactively seeking potential candidates is another way to increase the efficiency in replacing employees. Simultaneously to listing the role on SEEK to attract active job-seekers, using SEEK Talent Search to identify possible candidates and shoulder tapping them to apply for the advertised position, allows you access to a talent pool who may not have otherwise considered the role.



The talent within

It is also timely to assess talent that sits within the business and identify any potential candidates who may already work for your organisation. Promotion from within certainly has its benefits, from increasing engagement of staff with progression and the need for company and process induction reduced, to the settling in period decreased and the opportunity for handover provided.



A focused four weeks

Once a resignation has been accepted, it’s often hard for the leaving party to remain engaged and efficient in their role. Over a four-week period this can have a significant effect on outputs and morale, so it’s important to maximise the notice period by engaging the individual in their replacement strategy. Here’s a couple of ways to do this:



  • Have the departing employee develop detailed handover notes that cover not just the ‘how to’ but also background information on strategy and objectives.

  • Engage the departing employee in designing the job ad and proofing the job description for the replacement employee.

  • Ask the employee to review their role and identify any changes they would make to responsibilities, KPIs and outputs.

  • Ensure that an exit interview is completed to learn from that individual and their experiences with your organisation.


While change is never easy, it is a part of business life. The sooner we identify the opportunity it brings, the better.


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Christian Miran


HR Manager – Product, Development and Strategy

Christian Miran is an experienced HR professional with over 12 years’ experience in generalist and specialist positions, and is currently SEEK's HR Manager of Product, Development and Strategy. Christian has HR experience working across a range of...

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