How to Resign the Right Way - resigning in a professional and positive manner

Career Corner: Resigning the Right Way

So, you’ve decided it’s time to move on to your next challenge. Every time you leave one company to join another, there’s one unavoidable, potentially unpleasant pressure point on that journey – resigning. How can you let your employer know you’re on the way out with the minimum of stress and drama?

Even if you’ve had a negative experience with your current employer, it’s important to try to part on good terms. Tempting as it may be to air out your grievances, there are numerous reasons to maintain a good relationship with a past employer. First, on a practical front, you don’t want to do anything that might create an issue when the company you’re moving to reaches out for a reference. It’s become a very commonly held belief that a company cannot give a negative reference and while it is rare, it’s possible. Secondly, if you have a contractually obligated notice to serve, you’ll want to do everything you can to maintain a positive, amicable atmosphere between you and the rest of the business for those weeks or months of service. Also if there’s any chance to negotiate a shorter notice, this is much more likely if you’re careful and cordial with your approach.

So how do you resign right? Pick your time carefully. Don’t announce it to other people in the office before you take it to management, it’s likely to be disruptive and may engender an unpleasant atmosphere across your team. Try not to hand in your notice in the middle of an important project that you’re vital to, or if someone else who works in your team has just left. Pick a quieter time, and arrange a meeting with your manager before you formally hand your notice in. Tell them that you’re planning to leave and that you’re preparing to hand in your notice but that you wanted to give them as much advance warning as possible. This gives them time to consider beginning to recruit for a replacement or training someone in the organisation up to step into your role. It’s considerate and should help to show that you don’t have any ill will towards the company and want to make the transition as smooth as possible, which will play in your favour if you are looking to negotiate on your notice period.

You may, at this point, receive a counter-offer, if the company really wants to keep you on – read our guide on how to handle Counter-Offers for in-depth advice on dealing with this.

After you’ve discussed your plan, put together your actual resignation letter – keep it professional, clear and concise. Outside of the facts of the situation, consider thanking your boss for your time there and what you’ve learned in the position, but keep it to one or two sentences. Once you do formally turn it in, emphasises that you’re happy to help make the transition as smooth as possible, whether that’s helping to recruit your successor, gradually transferring responsibilities to colleagues and helping teach them anything they need to know to cover for your position if there’s a gap between your exit and the projected time they’ll have someone else in your position. It’s important to keep up a positive attitude and a good work ethic during this time, otherwise, the final impression you leave with people may be spoiled.

Resigning is never easy, but by keeping the process as honest and pleasant as possible, you’ll avoid sabotaging yourself later on, and hopefully will be able to maintain good working relationships with people who can continue to be an important part of your professional network.

Still deciding whether or not it’s a good time to leave your current job? We have some tips on how to know if it’s time to go.

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