Even if you hate your job, telling your boss that you’re leaving is often more nerve-wracking than the interview you had to get the job in the first place.
Many of us contemplate how we’re going to tell our managers and worry about how the news will be met.
Do we do it in writing, or tell them in person? How do we find the courage to tell them something we know they don’t want to hear?
To relieve you from any late-night tossing and turning, we’ve prepared a detailed guide on how to resign professionally.
Before we get into it, make sure to check out our video for the best bits of advice on resignations:
Tips for quitting your job
Here are 20 things to consider when handing in your resignation:
1. Make sure it’s the right move
Before you hand in your notice, you need to be sure that you’re making the right decision. After all, once you hand in your resignation, there’s no going back.
Before having that awkward conversation, I suggest that you outweigh the pros and cons of your new job and make a list of reasons you want to leave as opposed to staying. This well, ultimately, help you determine if the reason you want to leave is something that can be fixed.
For example, if the sole reason you’re considering leaving is a bigger paycheck, it might be a good idea to ask your boss for a raise before you start looking for a new job.
2. Leave at the top of your game
When you’re feeling confident about your skills, and generally great, you’ll be more attractive to future employers and be in a better position to bagging yourself a new job.
And if you’ve stopped growing in your current position, it might be a sign that it’s time to move on and accept a new challenge. Besides, your current employer will also remember you for your accomplishments and success.
So, continue expanding your knowledge, even during your last few weeks.
3. Save any important information
Before having the “big chat” with your boss, collect the contact information of anyone you want to stay in touch with or who will be important for networking, like overseas colleagues or suppliers you have worked with.
Make sure you have no personal files on your computer and that you have deleted anything you wouldn’t want your manager to see.
This is especially recommended if you work in a fast-paced sales environment, as there’s a very real possibility that you’ll be asked to leave immediately without working your notice.
4. Tell your boss
Okay. So, the big moment has arrived. Today is the day you must hand in your notice, but you’re scared to tell your manager. Take a few deep breaths, make sure you have a clear structure of what you want to say, and be sure you deliver the news in person.
You can send your manager an email and ask to have a quick chat in private. “A meeting shows proper respect for your employer and helps maintain your reputation,” Krishnan Doyle tells the Guardian.
5. Explain your reasons for quitting
Although it’s not obligatory, it’s common practice to explain why you’re leaving the organization. You don’t have to go into the specifics of your new job or your ongoing job search, but you could allude to this in a more general way.
Let’s say you work in sales. You could mention that you found employment in a different career path, and that’s that — you don’t have to elaborate further.
From experience, you may be pressured into offering more information, but if you don’t want to yet, you can just say that it’s in a specific field or a company that is closer to home. This all depends on your relationship with your manager and if you feel that they could interfere with your new position.
6. Be polite and thankful
When resigning from your job, remain polite and thank your boss for the opportunity they had given to you.
If you have a good relationship with your manager, this will come naturally to you, and you’ll be more than happy to show your gratitude. If, on the other hand, you don’t, just ensure you say it respectfully.
7. Resist outbursts
Your boss might very well be an egotistical jerk and you might have been dreaming of this day for months. But no matter how much you’d like to scream obscenities at them, it’s best to hold your tongue.
Now really isn’t the time to list off every single reason you hate your jerk for a boss, job or coworkers. Doing anything of the sort is unprofessional, and it can be damaging to your reputation.
8. Ignore the counteroffer
If you’re a highly valued member of staff, your employer may pull out all the stops to keep you on board.
However attractive the new package may be, disregard the offer. You have made the decision to move on for a reason. If you were to accept their counteroffer, you will only wind up in the same position 12 months later.
9. Write a resignation letter
Relax; you’ve survived the hard part. Now you simply need to write an effective resignation letter.
You don’t have to give a reason for leaving, although it will be nice to add a few grateful words thanking your employer for your time at their company. Send this to your manager, copying in the HR department, and be sure to do this once you’ve received written confirmation from your new employer.
Meanwhile, avoid rambling recriminations or using experimental literature, as you really don’t want to end up finding yourself among this list of funny resignation letters.
10. Inform your colleagues
Now that it’s official, you can finally tell your colleagues you’re quitting.
That said, make sure that your boss is happy for you to spread the word about your departure (they may instead wish to send out a company-wide email themselves).
Your coworkers will usually ask for the reasons of your impending departure, but, again, refrain from speaking ill of your employer or your job in general.
11. Be professional
You may have had some bad experiences with your supervisor or coworkers, but make sure you stay professional at work until the end.
Refrain from name-calling or sending out catty emails. Be sure to give your full notice (usually about four weeks) and cover all the necessary training so your replacement has a smooth transition.
12. Stay focused
Many people mentally check out once they’ve handed in their resignation letter, regardless that they’re still being paid for their notice period. But during this time, it’s a good rule of thumb to abstain from slacking and continue to do a good job until the end.
If you’ve finished all your tasks before the end of your notice period, ask your supervisor if there’s anything else that you can assist with. Bryan Phillips, cofounder of In Motion Marketing, agrees: “Do anything you can to ease the transition process. Complete all your assigned projects and deadlines, if possible. Offer to train your replacement and inform your coworkers of any information they might need to complete tasks in your absence.”
13. Make the transfer as easy as possible
As soon as you have handed in your notice, start compiling a list of all the resources your successor will require. This includes a list of contacts, daily tasks, and anything else you were given when you started.
If you make the transition as seamless and unproblematic as possible with a thorough handover, your employer will be extremely grateful and remember you in a positive light.
“You can also assist in hiring or onboarding your replacement where needed, and make sure your team will not be out on a whim which will be appreciated by everyone,” says Johannes Larsson, CEO of Financer.com. “Not only does this help out your team, but you’ll also receive a much nicer reference and leave with your head held high, knowing you’ve not damaged your network in any way.”
14. Work your notice
It goes without saying that you need to work your notice period, as stated in the terms of your employment contract.
“Ideally, you could give notice even earlier, but this is unadvised for self-preservation reasons,” says Philips. “If you give notice too early, more spiteful business leaders may let you go early, causing you to be without pay until your new job begins.”
The only exception would be if you mutually decided with your employer that it would be beneficial for you to bring your departure date forward, or if they decide to send you home with immediate effect.
15. Leave the company on good graces
After handing in your notice, you have probably lost a lot of motivation. But you need to find a way to pick yourself up and make sure you tie up any loose ends. Complete those tasks that have been lingering on your to-do list and tidy up your desk and folders so that the newbie has a smooth welcoming.
“By leaving on good graces, you leave the door open to potentially work with your previous employer in the future,” says Andrew Lokenauth, a hiring manager and career coach.
16. Attend an exit interview
You may be invited to an exit interview towards the end of your notice period. Make sure you attend this, and try to be as cooperative as possible during the Q&A session.
Your employer will want to know more about your decision to leave, and your perceptions of their organization as a whole here. You can offer constructive feedback on how certain areas could work better, but resist the urge to be overcritical.
17. Get a reference
Having a good reference from a previous employer is vital. This is something that many employees overlook when leaving their current position. If you have a good relationship with your manager, ask them to leave you a reference on your LinkedIn profile and if they’d be willing to give you a reference in the future if another employer happens to ask for one.
18. Ask to work remotely
If you’re leaving because you would like to pursue another career path or you’re moving away, you can always ask your employer if there’s any remote work you can do for them during the transition. If you’re a valued employee, they will most likely be happy to have your help for as long as they can.
This is something that I personally did when moving countries, until I settled down and found a full-time position. It was a great way of staying connected to my coworkers that I enjoyed working with and also keeping myself active with work.
19. Stay connected
If you’ve put in many years at the company, you’ll likely have formed strong relationships with the people who work with. If it feels right to stay in touch with them, send them an email a few months after leaving and keep them updated on your current situation. Your previous bosses will value the contact and that you still think highly of them.
20. Don’t feel guilty
No two companies will ever be the same and there may be some aspects you may miss about your previous employer but remember: you took the plunge because you had to grow professionally and your current role wasn’t allowing you to do so. It’s a step that was worth taking, so there’s no need to feel bad about your decision to leave!
And if for some reason your new role doesn’t work out how you imagined, you can always search for new opportunities or consider moving back to your old one.
Now that you know how to quit, it’s time to put this information into practice. To help you, we’ve prepared some examples that you can take inspiration from:
Dear [Name of manager],
Please accept this letter as my official resignation from my position as [Name of position] at [Name of company]. My last working day will be the [Date].
I would like to thank you for the great opportunity that you’ve given me by working here. I have learned a great deal during my time here and will value the experience forever. My successors, like me, will be fortunate to be part of such a dynamic team.
Please do let me know if I can be of any help during the transition.
I wish you and the company continued success.
You: Hi Jake, I’d like to have a quick chat in private.
Boss: Sure, let’s go to my office. Is everything okay?
You: I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be handing in my resignation. I’ve been offered a new position in the fashion industry, which better aligns with my interests.
Boss: Oh! That’s such a shame. You’re a valued member of the team and we’re really going to miss you around here. Is there anything that we can do to convince you to stay?
You: Unfortunately, no! I’ve thought long and hard about this decision, and I believe it’s time to move onto the next chapter of my career.
Boss: Okay, no problem. Please send me your formal letter of resignation so I can inform HR, and we will devise a transition plan while you’re working your notice.
You: I will do. Thank you again for your understanding and the opportunity to work here. I have learned a lot from the company and will take fond memories with me.
You: Hi Jake, can you spare 10 minutes so that we can have a quick chat about my position here?
Boss: Sure, fire away.
You: I’m sorry that I have to do this over the phone, but I wanted to let you know that I will be resigning from my position.
Boss: Oh! That’s such a shame. Why do you want to leave?
You: I have been offered something that is more in line with my long-term career plans, so I feel this is the right move at this moment in time.
Boss: Okay. Do you want to set up a video call in a few days so we can discuss your current tasks and how we can move these across to other members of the team until we hire someone else?
You: Of course. I would like to help as much as possible to ensure there is a smooth transition of my tasks and duties with my replacement. Thank you for your understanding and the opportunity to work with the international team.
Quitting a job that you love is hard, but leaving a toxic environment is easy. That said, whatever the case, it’s important to leave professionally and with your head held high. So, hopefully after following these tips, you’ll be able to leave your job without burning any bridges. And who knows? Your path may lead you back to the organization in a few years’ time.
Got a question about quitting your job in a professional manner, or want to share your own experiences with us? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on September 15, 2017.