How to Resign Well – Part Two
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.
Some people are unsure about how much notice to resign they have to give, however this will usually be stipulated in your contract. But here’s the thing, if you don’t have a contract, you are not legally obligated to provide notice to your employer. In these rare cases, we advise that it’s probably better to give at least two weeks if you feel that it’s doing the right thing by your current employer. However, if you work in an industry with confidential information – such as research and development or client knowledge – and you’re moving to a competitor, you may be walked straight out of the office and you have to be prepared for that eventuality. You’ll then need to serve your notice period off-site as ‘gardening leave’. During that time, you legally can’t start working anywhere else.
Conversely, if you do have a stipulated notice period, you might be able to resign immediately if you discuss that with your manager, but most employees will have a contract of employment that states a notice period. People are contractually obligated to adhere to that and it’s usually only by mutual agreement that any notice period can be shortened.
Be prepared to consider what happens if you receive a counter-offer. If your boss thinks highly of you, they may try convincing you to stay. Think about why you’re leaving in the first place, and decide whether being offered more money is a good enough reason to stay.
So, now you’re in your notice period. What is the best way for you to behave professionally during this admittedly stressful time? Well, firstly, don’t talk badly about the company to co-workers in the mistaken belief you have to justify your actions to them. And that’s either before you resign, or after. In many cases, a lot of resignees fail right there. You don’t need to be going around telling everyone about your ‘great new job’. It’s selfish and destructive to morale. You need to be collaborative in helping convey the message at the right time, in the right way, to the right people.
Don’t become complacent. This is critical. If you ‘go walkabout’, start being lazy, come in late, avoid your admin and generally make it clear you have ‘checked out’, everyone will see that and everyone who counts will remember it. And that is going to hurt you one day. Count on it. As we keep saying – being professional all the way will pay dividends – not just during the notice period but potentially throughout the remainder of your career.
Also, try and complete as many of your outstanding projects as is practical to do. Distribute your unfinished works to colleagues, along with sufficient descriptions of your progress so they can pick up right where you left off. If they’ll need background information on certain clients or projects, forward important emails and e-introduce folks who haven’t worked together before. And, if you have specialised knowledge or a unique responsibility, you could go the extra mile and create a how-to guide for whoever’s taking over for you. You’ll probably never hear it but you will be thanked and thought highly of for that.
Then, and as you prepare to leave the office for the final time (and your resignation has been officially announced), send a goodbye email to your co-workers. A short, sincere note will help you avoid any bridge-burning – and will keep your network strong.
When it comes to resigning from your job (especially a terrible one), you may be tempted to go out with a bang. But resigning with grace and professionalism – and a well-thought-out plan – will help you infinitely more in the long run.