Ask for a written confirmation of the offer. Review each point carefully to ensure that your verbal understanding has been reduced to writing. If there are issues which need to be negotiated, clear them up before proceeding -- you will never have this much leverage again.
Possible issues to be considered:
-- temporary housing
-- househunting trips
-- pre-existing medical conditions
-- prospective employers for your spouse
-- incidental moving expenses
-- first year vacation
Reaching a Decision
Once you have a written offer, take the time to think through your decision (if you need more than 48 hours, this could be a sign that this is not the right opportunity for you).
Ask the question: "Is this really what I (and my family/spouse) want to do?" If the answer is "yes," then call your new boss and accept enthusiastically; if the answer is "no," decline forthrightly.
Draft a short, straightforward letter of resignation (see sample below).
Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your boss.
Being careful to be 100% positive, tell him/her of your decision to leave; be sure to emphasize these points:
-- you were not looking (a headhunter was the initiator);
-- this is an opportunity you can not afford to pass up; talk about the positives of the new position, never about the negatives;
-- you have accepted the offer; you intend to honor that commitment;
-- you will do everything possible to facilitate an orderly transition.
Do not divulge your new salary to anyone except your former boss (and then only if he/she asks); too much conversation could make your colleagues feel dissatisfied or, worse, you could be remembered as boastful.
Agree on a date of departure and on how the transition will be effected.
Discuss how and when your resignation will be announced; if you would like to tell your direct reports personally, propose a method to do so.
Offer to handle arrangements with Human Resources concerning final pay, retirement plan moneys.
Give your boss the letter of resignation.
Part on an upbeat, positive note.
It is the exception when an employer does not try to change your mind.
This is not the time to "go through the motions of hearing them out"; if you waffle or give your boss any encouragement, you could regret it since:
-- you could get mad -- "why am I worth more money today than I was before I resigned?"
-- your boss could get mad -- he/she offers you more money than your contemporaries are earning (i.e., goes out on a limb) and you do not bite; now he/she is embarrassed; more importantly, the organization's salary structure may have been compromised;
-- you could outsmart yourself if you allow your boss to buy you back;
How? You have played hardball and won for now. But, in the long run, your loyalty may be questioned and, of more immediate concern, your pay is out of sync with that of your peers.
-- your safest course: make your decision; honor your commitment; and, most importantly, exit in a positive, business-like manner.
Sample Letter of Resignation
Dear _____________: I am writing to tender my resignation effective ____________. I have enjoyed my association with you and have not been unhappy. However, I was approached by an executive search firm several months ago about a position with ____________. As I listened, it became apparent that this was indeed an opportunity that I should explore. Consequently, I have accepted the position of _________ and would like to report on __________.
I am most appreciative of the opportunity ________ has afforded me and will make every effort to effect an orderly transition. I hope we can work out a schedule that will meet everyone's needs.