Preparing to embark on a new career or take on a new job opportunity is a thrilling feeling, one that means you’re turning over an important page in your career book. But if you are currently working, this excitement can be overshadowed by the fact that you need to resign from your current job.
How do you go about it? What is the right and wrong thing to say? And how can you leave your current employer on a good note, without burning any bridges?
1. Prepare For Your Resignation
The act of resigning should always involve a little preparation and planning on your part before you speak to your boss or manager to resign. Use our free resignation letter download and fill it out using the tips below:
How Much Information you Want to Disclose to Your Boss About the Reasons You’re Resigning
For instance, do you want to tell them exactly what role and company you are moving on to? Or would you prefer not even mentioning you have a new job lined up? Remember, you have absolutely no obligation to explain your resignation. Whether or not you choose to include any reasoning is up to you – and how open your relationship is with your employer.
How Much Notice You’ll Need to Give and When Your Last Date of Employment Will Be
Your boss will likely ask you when you want to finish up, so have a date in mind, but aim to be a little flexible. If you’re working on a current project, for instance, you may want to see it through to the end. However, bear in mind that you do not have to stay at the company any longer than the notice period outlined in your contract. Some employers, if you negotiate well, may also let you finish up a little sooner.
Whether You Desire Any Time off Between Your Jobs
Sometimes, a small break (e.g. 1-2 weeks) can help you rejuvenate, prepare and start fresh in your new job. You might also want to use this time to travel or holiday since you won’t have much annual leave in your new role. Take this into account when determining your finish date (and negotiating the start date in your new position).
2. Meet With Your Boss Face-to-Face
The next step in the resignation process is to set up a face-to-face meeting with your boss to inform him/her of your resignation.
Always Resign in Person!
Don’t resign over email or the phone. If your boss is away, you could organise to resign to another manager. If you have no other option, a phone conversation may suffice – but aim for a face-to-face discussion in all circumstances.
Have a Meeting in a Quiet, Private Space
E.g. your boss’s office – not the lunch room! You won’t want other managers or employees to overhear your conversation. If you have an open-plan floor with minimal privacy, ask your boss if you can chat somewhere outside of the office (e.g. over coffee at a cafe).
3. What to Say
There can be a right and a wrong way to hold a resignation discussion. Don’t worry if you’re nervous or if the situation is a little tense or awkward. Just stand your ground and follow these tips!
You can ‘break the ice’ a little if you wish by making a little bit of small talk, such as asking how your boss’s day is going or inquiring about his/her family or holidays etc.
If you’re unsure how to start the resignation discussion, a good opening line can be: “The reason I’ve organised this meeting is that I’ve decided to resign from my job.”
Only Disclose What You’re Comfortable With
Like we discussed in Step 1, make sure you only mention to your employer what you feel they need to know. If you don’t want to give away any details but your boss still asks, you can explain in general terms that the role isn’t right for you and doesn’t fit in with your career goals. Whatever you do, don’t lie. The truth will come out sooner or later.
Consider What You’ll Say If They Try To Convince You To Stay
He/she may ask you what you would need to stay in the job (e.g. more money, different responsibilities). If this happens, you’ll need to think carefully about whether this will work for your career.
If you’re intent on declining the offer, remain polite and professional. You could say something like, “Thank you for the offer, I very much appreciate it. But unfortunately, this role just isn’t right for my career.” If you’re unsure, thank your boss for the offer and say that you’ll think it over.
Stay professional and don’t be swayed into finishing up at a time that will make things more difficult for you. However, depending on your relationship with your boss, you may want to extend your finish date if you feel it will help him/her significantly.
He/she will likely ask you to put your resignation in writing and possibly speak to HR or inform other managers of your decision.
Thank Your Boss For Their Support and Understanding
Remember that most managers will be supportive of your decision. If they aren’t, don’t stress or feel guilty. Resigning is perfectly within your rights!
4. Put Your Resignation In Writing
Once you’ve met with your boss, you should put your resignation in writing, in the form of a formal letter. Your letter should be brief and explain only the basic details of your resignation.Keep in mind that anything that you put in the letter will be officially on record.
If you’re unsure how to structure your letter, you can use our free Resignation Letter Template and download your own here.
Things to Remember:
- Make sure the letter is addressed to the name, position and address of your boss (or the person you are resigning to).
- The letter includes your notice to resign, your current position and your agreed upon finish date. If you haven’t discussed a finishing date, you can write something like, “My desired finish date is Friday 10th July, however, I am willing to discuss this further.’
- You do not have to include your reason for resigning. However, if you wish, you could include some brief details about why.
- You should finish the letter by thanking your employer for the opportunity to work with him and letting them know that you’ve valued your experience in the role.
Note: If you wish, you can always write your resignation letter first and hand this to your boss in your meeting.
5. Maintain Your Responsibilities
Once the meeting with your boss and the handing over of your resignation letter is sorted, you’ll need to continue in your role right up until your finish date.
- Continue with your tasks and responsibilities up until and including your last day of work.
- Avoid slacking off (showing up late, finishing early, taking long lunches) or neglecting your responsibilities (ignoring them, pushing them onto others) just because you’ve resigned – this paints you in an unprofessional light and only shows you have a poor work ethic.
- If you find some of your duties are being handed over to another colleague, ask what else you can help with to fill your time.
- Make time to conduct handover sessions or training with any employees before you finish up.
6. Remain Professional Until the End
The key to enacting any resignation well is to remain professional no matter what.
- If your boss or colleague becomes frustrated that you’re leaving, loses his/her cool, tries to convince you to stay or even tries to make you feel guilty – stay calm and keep your professionalism at the forefront. Be firm but courteous when you need to.
- Stay positive and emphasise the value and benefits you’ve gained from the job. Don’t make negative quips like, “I’m so glad to be getting out of this horrible place” or “I can’t wait til this stupid job ends.”
- Never resort to making your resignation personal and don’t partake in gossip (e.g. bad-mouthing someone else, complaining to your boss, attacking your boss, whinging about the company). This burns bridges and means you’ll lose those valuable contacts for the future. Don’t post anything negative on social media either.
- Remain polite and civil at all times, right up until the moment you walk out the door. Phrases like, “I’m going to miss working with you” or “I’ve really enjoyed working here!” can go down well.
- Finally, organise a way to keep in touch with your managers and colleagues, whether via email or on something like LinkedIn. Networking in this way and staying in touch with your contacts can benefit your career significantly – you never know when a past colleague or manager might open the door on a new opportunity for you!