How to resign from your job gracefully

Here’s how to leave your workplace without burning bridges

Photos: INGIMAGE
Photos: INGIMAGE
26 Jun 2015

Photos: INGIMAGE

Most of us will resign from a job at some point in our career. Perhaps it’s as simple as seizing a better opportunity elsewhere. Maybe it’s for a personal reason, or maybe you just can’t stand your boss. No matter the reason for your resignation, leave on good terms to keep doors open for future opportunities. As tempting as it is to storm into your boss’s office yelling triumphantly, “I QUIT,” don’t. It only makes you look bad. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a favor.

Click on for 10 steps to a graceful resignation.

1. Decide when to hand in your notice
1. Decide when to hand in your notice
26 Jun 2015

1. Decide when to hand in your notice

Quitting on the spot might be dramatic and satisfying but once the adrenaline wears off, you’ll probably be left with no reference – just a heap of burned bridges. Remember that your boss needs time to find a replacement. Give the correct notice period as stated in your contract; two weeks is standard but double check. If your boss requests that you stay longer, don’t feel pressured to do so. As long as you follow your contractual obligations, you’re not doing anything wrong. 

2. Practice what to go over with your boss.
2. Practice what to go over with your boss.
26 Jun 2015

2. Practice what to go over with your boss.

Don’t wing it. Spend some time reviewing what to say to your boss. When practicing talking points, consider the following:

  • Why are you leaving? If it’s for personal reasons, just say so. Or maybe you like your job but there isn’t enough upward mobility. Stick to the facts but try to frame everything in a positive light.
  • What will you do if your boss gives you a counteroffer?
  • What are the ongoing projects you’re working on, their current status and the remaining steps to completion? 
3. Notify your boss.
3. Notify your boss.
26 Jun 2015

3. Notify your boss.

Arrange a face-to-face meeting with your boss to tell them that you’re resigning. Stick to what you practiced. Don’t use this time to blow off steam and reveal the injustices you endured at the company; you’ll lose all credibility that way. Be polite, maintain eye contact, and mention what you appreciated about the job.

Go over the list of ongoing projects and work out the priorities with your boss. Clarify your notice period and leaving date, and consult with your boss on how to inform your colleagues, clients, and contacts.  

4. Write a resignation letter.
4. Write a resignation letter.
26 Jun 2015

4. Write a resignation letter.

After verbally resigning, it’s time to write a formal letter of resignation. Keep it simple and to the point. You don’t need to explain why you’re leaving, but mentioning that you have enjoyed your time working at the company is a nice touch. Do include the following:

  • The date your resignation is effective
  • Job title/ the position you’re resigning from
  • The date of your final working day
  • Your willingness to assist in the hand-over process
  • Optional: a word of thanks to your employer
5. Tell your colleagues.
5. Tell your colleagues.
26 Jun 2015

5. Tell your colleagues.

Even if your boss has already announced your resignation, you should tell your important colleagues yourself anyway so they don’t feel like they’re hearing the news through the grapevine. Get ready to field some questions from curious co-workers. (“Why are you leaving us?” “So what are your plans?”) Answer tactfully to prevent any office gossip. Don’t bad-mouth your boss or express how incredibly relieved you are to get out of there. Avoid doing anything that will reflect negatively on you or make things awkward while you ride out your notice period.

If you’re the one breaking the news, how you do it is up to you. It’s fine to announce through email or meet with people individually. Be positive and brief.  

6. Continue to put forth your best foot forward during your notice period
6. Continue to put forth your best foot forward during your notice period
26 Jun 2015

6. Continue to put forth your best foot forward during your notice period

It’s tempting to slack off when you have an exit ticket already, but it leaves a poor impression. Make as much progress as possible on any ongoing projects. Train your successor or the person filling in until a successor is chosen. Create a manual describing basic procedures for the key responsibilities of your job. Your employer will notice and appreciate your efforts to make the transition as seamless as possible.  

7. Prepare for your final day.
7. Prepare for your final day.
26 Jun 2015

7. Prepare for your final day.

As your notice period comes to an end, ask for a written reference from your boss. Exchange personal contact information with your co-workers and make sure that you’re connected on LinkedIn and Facebook. If you’re down for it, you can even schedule after-work drinks or a farewell dinner in advance.

To avoid spending your last day hauling out an avalanche of personal office items, pack up a bit every day (two hand lotions here, a few picture frames there, and your faithful little office plant).

8. Prepare exit questions involving outstanding benefits
8. Prepare exit questions involving outstanding benefits
26 Jun 2015

8. Prepare exit questions involving outstanding benefits

Organize your medical, dental, and life insurance benefits. Find out if there are any outstanding payments for overtime and expenses, and when you will receive your last paycheck. Discuss all of your end-of-employment questions with Human Resources. Check that they have the correct address to mail any relevant documents after you leave.

9. Complete your exit interview
9. Complete your exit interview
26 Jun 2015

9. Complete your exit interview

The exit interview is the final official interaction. Provide constructive suggestions for improvement if you have them, not complaints. This isn’t a venting session, so put past grievances behind you. Anyway, it would have been more effective to share your frustrations about the job while you were still employed. It makes little difference now, so end on a good note and say how much you’ve learned – even if you have to grit your teeth. Know that you’re moving on to greener pastures and keep the exit interview short and sweet.

10. Tie-up any loose ends
10. Tie-up any loose ends
26 Jun 2015

10. Tie-up any loose ends

You’ve made it to your last day! Congratulations. You’re still on good terms with everyone. Is your desk completely cleared? Did you hand in your security pass and other company property (laptop, phone, etc.)? Time to say your final goodbyes and thank your old boss and team. You have successfully resigned without burning any bridges. Now you’re ready to move on and conquer your future.

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