How to Resign Well – Part One

Getting ready to resign from your job? Like any major life stage, it can bring up questions – who do you tell first – and most importantly, how? Do you need to write a letter? What happens next? Whatever your reason for resigning, the way you leave can have a real impact on your career down the road. There are ways to resign well so that you can leave on a positive note, not burn your bridges and take your next step with a clear conscience. 

There are many reasons people need to resign. Maybe you landed a great new role and you’re moving on to greener pastures. Or, maybe you hate your company and can’t bear the thought of another day there, let alone having to work out your notice period. But whatever the situation, resigning your job can be awkward and uncomfortable – and if you don’t have a clear plan of action, you might end up leaving on awful terms and sacrificing valuable references down the road.

Now, it’s true that often you get shown the door as soon as you resign. It’s also true that some employers behave appallingly to exiting staff. But that’s no excuse. You need to be the better person, leaving with every loose end tied up and your head held high. So how do you resign with dignity, class and professionalism? 

Resign well and don't burn your bridges

First things first – you should tell your manager in person. If that’s not possible because you’re based in different locations, then you could opt for a phone call. It’s best to avoid an email whatever the situation – even if your manager is in Bali on a silent retreat and has no phone access. There should be someone else acting in their role who you can resign to either face-to-face or by phone.

So what do you say? Be ready to tell them why you’re resigning on the spot. There’s a good chance they already suspect what you’re about to do. It’s best to keep your conversation around the facts, and it may be best to simply say “I’ve been offered an opportunity that’s more in line with my career aspirations.”

Whatever you do, don’t air any grievances in your meeting and instead take the opportunity to briefly acknowledge what you’ve gained from the role. The perfect resignation is to show gratitude and appreciation for the time your manager has shown to you, and that you’ve enjoyed your role greatly, but the time has come for you to move into a different role. That’s it, short, sweet and above all, professional and disarming. 

Following your initial meeting, you’ll need to write your official resignation letter. A simple resignation letter should include details of the person to whom it is addressed, the notice of termination of employment, when this takes effect and your signature. You may want to add an extra sentence or two thanking your boss for the opportunities you’ve been given, but again, don’t witter on, just keep it short, sweet and professional. 

If you can, give more than fair notice. Sure, your contract may stipulate you need to give two weeks, but if you can give more, do so. If you started as a trainee and are now a line manager, you’ll know that will cause your employer huge issues if you leave at short notice. So don’t do it. Provide enough time for them to get their business covered. It’s the professional thing to do. You can even offer to train your replacement and mean it too. 

Cooperate in a handover of your current projects, your upcoming ones, and, if you’re in sales, your list of leads. If you are leaving your industry for good, it’s the right thing to do by them, and by your employer who gave you the chance to build those relationships in the first place. But even if you plan to work with those clients from somewhere else, just know that they don’t belong to you, so do the right thing and brief your successor. You may have a clause in your contract that you cannot approach clients for a stipulated amount of time, so just bide yours and stay within the bounds of the agreement. 

In the next part of the blog, we’ll share some more tips on how to resign well. 

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How to Resign Well – Part Two