Even if you hate your job, telling your boss that you are leaving is more nerve-wracking than the interview you had to get the job you accepted three years ago. Many of us contemplate how we are going to tell our managers and are afraid of the reaction that we will get. Do we do it in writing? 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 the late night tossing-and-turning, we’ve prepared a detailed guide on how to resign professionally:
1. Be Certain
Are you sure you want to leave your current position? Once you hand in your resignation there is no going back. Sometimes we think the grass is always greener on the other side. Outweigh the pros and cons of your new job and make a list of reasons you want to leave as opposed to staying. If the sole reason is a higher pay-check, have a discussion with your manager for a pay-review before you look for other employment.
2. Leave at the Top of Your Game
According to career coach, Tina Nicolai, mentioned on Forbes: “unless you are in a giant corporation and you are highly skilled, do yourself a favour and do not outstay your welcome”. When you are feeling confident about your skills and are generally feeling great, you’ll be more attractive to future employers and be in a better position to bagging yourself a new job. Your current employer will also remember you for your accomplishments and success.
3. Save Any Important Information
Before having the ‘big chat’, collect contact information of anyone you want to stay in touch with or 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. You are never 100% sure if you will need to work your notice period or will be given ‘gardening leave’.
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 deep breaths, make sure you have a clear structure of what you want to say and make sure you deliver the news in person. You can send your manager an e-mail and ask to have a quick chat in private. “A meeting shows proper respect for your employer and helps maintain your reputation,” says Doyle, on 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 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 inside sales, you could mention that you found employment in a different career path, and that’s that.
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 is an egotistical b*tch and you’ve been dreaming of this day for the past four months. However much you’d like to tell them to F off, refrain from doing so. Now isn’t the time to list off every single reason you hate your jerk-of-a-boss, job or coworkers. Doing anything of the sort is unprofessional, and it can be damaging to your reputation.
8. Ignore the Counter Offer
If you are a highly-valued member of staff, your employer may pull out all the stops to keep you as part of their team. However attractive the new package may be, disregard the offer. You have made the decision to move on for a number of factors other than pay. If you were to take it you would 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. Avoid rambling recriminations or literary experiments. You don't have to give a reason for leaving, although it’ll 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.
10. Inform Your Colleagues
Now it’s official, you can finally tell your colleagues. Check to make sure your boss is happy for you to spread the word about your departure (they may wish to instead send out a company-wide email), and then start telling your colleagues the news. Your co-workers will usually ask for the reasons for your 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 co-workers, but make sure you stay professional until the end. Refrain from name-calling or sending out catty e-mails. Be sure to give your full notice, which is most often 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 of the fact that they are still being paid for their notice period. 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 have finished your duties before the end of your notice period, tell your supervisor to see if there are any small tasks you can assist with.
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.
14. Leave Early
It goes without say that you need to work your notice period, as stated in the terms of your employment contract. 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 decided to send you home with immediate effect.
15. Leave the Company in a Good Place
After handing in your notice, you have probably lost a lot of motivation. 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 the newbie has a smooth welcoming.
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 organisation as a whole. You can offer constructive feedback on how certain areas could work better but resist the urge to be over critical.
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 LinkedIn.
18. Ask to Work Remotely
If you are leaving as you would like to pursue another career path, or are moving away, you can always ask your employer if there is anything remote you can do for them while you transition. If you are a valued employee they will most likely be happy to have your help for as long as they can.
19. Stay Connected
If you’ve put in many years at the company you will have formed strong relationships. If it feels right to stay in touch with your colleagues send them an e-mail 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. Feel Good
Don’t feel guilty about resigning. Feel good that you are moving on to bigger and better things. No two companies will ever be the same, and there are some aspects you may miss about your previous employer but remember that 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!
Transition of any sort is never easy and saying goodbye is tough, but with the above tips, you’ll be sure on how to gracefully move onwards and upwards in your career.
Have you been frightened to tell your boss you’re leaving? How did you tell them? Let us know in the comment section below…