Resigning from a job can be stressful and is never easy.
However, if you plan it properly, then it can be not only painless, but also productive for your future career. That’s what this page is all about, to help you resign professionally and end your employment tenure on a positive note.
Last impressions count
First impression count, but last impressions are just as important, meaning its vital that you leave on goods terms. But getting that perfect resignation is always going to be difficult because talking about quitting is awkward. No matter what your reasons, you want to say goodbye to your soon-to-be-ex colleagues and managers in a polite way, so you’ll be remembered fondly.
Key tips covered in this complete guide to leaving your job;
- Find out how much notice you have to give
- Schedule a meeting with your manager
- Practice what to say at the exit interview
- Tell your boss first
- Be prepared for counter offers
- Write an official resignation letter
- Hand in your resignation letter as formal notice
- Ask for a reference
- Create a resignation checklist of things to do before you leave
- Saying goodbye to your work colleagues
1. Find out how much notice you have to give
It is important that you do everything by the book and follow the resignation rules of your company. The best way to do this is to read your contract of employment or the employee manual to find the required notice period you have to give. These official legal documents will tell you if there are any additional requirements that you need to follow. It’s vital that you give the necessary notice otherwise you could jeopardise any termination benefits. Having said that, if you have a good relationship with your employer, they may be willing to waive any special caveats.
2. Schedule a meeting with your manager
It’s good professional etiquette to tell your manager you’re resigning in person before submitting any notice letter. Therefore, arrange an appointment to have a private face to face chat with them or if they’re not available then a HR representative. By asking to meet them in person you’re showing that you value their time and position.
Speaking directly to your superiors also avoids the possibility of any resignation letter or email being misinterpreted.
3. Practice what to say at the exit interview
Before you meet anyone, consider what you are going to say and rehearse how to say it. Think ahead about the questions your manager is likely to ask and have your answers ready. For instance, they may ask about your reasons for leaving, so be prepared for this. Although it’s worth noting that you do not have to tell them anything about your new role if you don’t want to.
You should also find out what your contracted notice period is, and the likely last date of your employment with the company.
Bear in mind that your boss may make you a counter-offer, perhaps a higher salary or more perks. You should have the following things clear in your head:
- Your reason for leaving (if you wish to tell them).
- How much notice you are giving (for example, the standard two weeks or longer).
- Your expected final day.
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4. Tell your boss first
Unfortunately, many people tell their work colleagues first, doing this in a formal work environment will not endear you to your superiors. To leave properly it’s your immediate manager who should know first.
At the meeting, always start by thanking your manager personally and the company as a whole for the opportunities you’ve had in the current role.
Following on from this, any conversation should be positive and not be used as an opportunity to criticize colleagues or the company. This is also a convenient moment to ask your manager about the appropriate next steps to take. If you want you can have a letter prepared to formally give notice of your resignation at the end of the meeting, although many people choose to hand this in at a later date.
This is also a good time to share any concerns you have, but remember to do so tactfully.
- Giving constructive criticism.
- Explaining why you are leaving (unless you want to).
Finally remember to relax, people resign from their jobs all the time and your boss has seen it all before. You’re not the first in your company to go, and you won’t be the last.
5. Be prepared for counter offers
If you have been a good employee who has performed well, then your company may not want to see you go. They may entice you to stay by offering you one or a combination of the following;
- pay rise
- more benefits
- extra vacation time
- increased responsibilities
- a new job title
- different role
- move to another location
If you are tempted by any off these then ensure you fully understand any inducements before making a final decision.
6. Write an official resignation letter
Keep it short, polite and simple.
Start to write a brief one page resignation letter that outlines your intention to leave, details of the required notice period and your last day of work. Avoid hand written letters, instead use a printed version. Your aim is to have a paper trial and record of when and how you resigned. When writing the letter include the following;
- Your address
- Your job title and department
- Your manager’s name
- Resignation date
- Final day of work
- Duration of notice
- Thank you and best wishes statement
RELATED; Resignation letter examples
7. Hand in your resignation letter as formal notice
Find out who you should hand the notice in to. Check your employee handbook or ask the HR department directly for guidance on who to give it to.
8. Ask for a reference
It’s always helpful to have a good job reference from a previous employer, so it’s definitely worth asking for one before you go. Consider who might be a positive referee, be it co-workers, supervisors or managers. Don’ forget to ask how they would prefer to be contacted i.e. by phone or email etc.
9. Create a resignation checklist of things to do before you leave
Write up a list of all things to do and then tick them off one by one. Below are some suggestions of what to include;
Clean your work laptop, computer and phone
To wipe or not to wipe that is the question. If you have any work-issued electronic devices, then it’s advisable to spend a bit of time deleting your personal records and search history from them.
No matter how disciplined you are at some point you may have done a bit of internet browsing, gaming or shopping. All of this including your private date, passwords, payment details and information of every website visited will remain visible, unless deleted. Here some of the things to do;
- Clear your browser history and cache.
- Purge your files of personal Word documents.
- Empty the recycle bin.
- Delete old screenshots, drafts, old to do lists and unnecessary files.
- Get rid of personal emails.
- Erase Social Media tools.
- Uninstall all downloaded software and apps that are only meant for you.
To be extra safe, initiate a factory reset of the computer, this will wipe the hard drive.
Many of the above also to cleaning out a work phone.
Physically clean them
Finally, don’t forget to use hygienic wipes to clean your desktop or laptop before handing it back.
Save your personal files (preferably before you tell anyone your leaving)
It’s good practice to back up all your own files, emails and documents before you even think about telling anyone that you’re leaving. This is just in case your manager tells you to get out by the end of the day, or even worse immediately.
Finish your work
Complete all of your outstanding duties before going. Start of by looking at your work load and making a list of all the key tasks. Next decide which of these have to be done by you and which ones can be handed over to others. Finally, prioritize your ones in order of importance. Other tips to do;
- Complete any filing.
- Throw away your rubbish or litter.
- Leave documents and equipment in an orderly fashion.
- Take your personal items with you.
Passwords and contacts
Create a detailed file or document that contains company related passwords and contacts etc. All ready to be handed over to your replacement.
Make enquiries with the payroll department about when you will get your final wages and if possible confirm this with them through email. Check your payslip to ensure you’ve been paid for everything you were expecting, including any bonus or commission.
Check your unused holiday pay
Liaise with the HR team about any unused vacation time, sick time, or paid time off that you’re owed.
Update your CV, Resume and Social Media profiles etc
Keep your online records fresh and up-to-date by including details of your job change.
Your contact details
Leave your contact details with your employer so that you can answer queries after you’ve left.
10. Saying goodbye to your work colleagues
After informing your boss, you should now announce your departure to all those work with. Look at it as an opportunity to thank people who have supported you at the company. Try not to embarrass yourself by communicating in a non-emotional way with all of those you say farewell to.