Whether planned meticulously or fueled by anger, the decision to leave your job is a big one and should always be managed with care. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips that we think will help you to resign in style and give you the best chance of leaving an excellent legacy.
Imagine the situation; you’ve found your dream job, gone through the interview process and an offer is on the table. Brilliant! This is an exciting time and you should be enjoying it, but it can be tainted by the fear of resigning from your current role.
Of course resigning can be a daunting prospect and not just because you’re committing yourself to moving on. For most people, leaving a company for pastures new doesn’t mean you dislike your current employer or want to make enemies. Just remember it doesn’t have to be a messy breakup; your clothes need not burn on the proverbial company lawn! If you handle the situation respectfully, you should never be faced with the confrontation you’re picturing.
Think it Through
If you’re leaving for the offer of a new career opportunity, it’s likely you will have thought about this carefully and already know it’s the right move. If however this is a heat of the moment decision then you need to calm down and give it some serious consideration.
Request a meeting with HR for the following day, give yourself time to think and sleep on it. If you decide not to resign, you can use your planned HR meeting to discuss the issues that made you want to leave and hopefully better the situation. If you’re still sure you want to resign then you should think very seriously about waiting until you’ve found a new position. – ask yourself, “Am I really unhappy enough to risk leaving myself with no job at all?”
If you have considered all your options and still want to go, read on…
Resist the Urge to Burn Bridges
The momentary satisfaction of listing every reason you’ve decided to leave and every problem you ever faced at the company may not be worth the fallout of upsetting your former employer. Keep in mind a few key points before you begin the diatribe;
- You never know where you may meet these people again. Do you really want to shake the hand of the new starter in your future role (or worse, a friend of your new boyfriend/girlfriend!?) only to realise it’s the very person you tore a strip out of in your exit meeting? The horror!
- References are worth protecting. You’ve made it this far, why destroy your reputation at the last hurdle?
- People talk. One day in the future you may find that an incredible career opportunity is denied to you because the hiring manager heard you were trouble. It might not be fair, but it still happens.
- Stay Classy. If you’ve had serious issues in the workplace, it’s very unlikely they’ve gone unnoticed. Knowing these problems, they are probably expecting you to kick off. Choosing not to can be surprisingly satisfying and taking the high road is a classy move.
With all this in mind, it doesn’t mean that you can’t discuss anything negative about your time in the role; after all there is bound to be a reason you aren’t staying. If you are desperate to speak out, try to offer gently worded, constructive criticism.
Write a Great Letter
Your resignation letter will be read by HR, probably the boss and maybe your line manager. These are all people who could be approached in future to provide a reference, so doing this right is important.
You can find guides and templates online but we are so wonderfully generous we decided to throw together a couple of examples for you. Don’t say we never give you anything!
You should be prepared when you hand in your notice to be offered a knee jerk counter offer. Unless you have already considered this and are certain that nothing will make you stay, try not to offer a response at this stage. Thank them for the offer and explain you will need time to think. (We’ve written a blog post to help you make up your mind. Click here to view ‘Let’s Talk About Counter Offers’)
Stick to the Rules
If you need to work a notice period, take garden leave or have any restrictions in your employment contract, just remember that you committed to this when you signed and should keep to your word. (And to your legal responsibilities!)
Work Your Notice with a Smile
Don’t leave before you’ve left. If you are required to work a notice period, make sure you put in the same effort and show the same commitment you did before you announced you were moving on. This is your chance to remind everyone what a wonderful employee you’ve been and if you find yourself feeling a loss of motivation just remember the time will go much quicker if you keep yourself busy!
Good work during the notice period is likely to encourage a counter offer from your boss in a bid to keep you. Whether or not this was offered at the time you handed in your notice, you should be ready for this conversation right up to the day you leave. To find out more about counter offers, click here.
Offer Support to Your Replacement
It’s likely that a new hire or colleague will be asked to step into your shoes. To ensure a smooth transition, most businesses will begin this process before you leave. Be gracious, and try to help your replacement in any way you can. It can be hard to hand over projects and processes you feel are yours, but you are leaving and they need your help. Be the good guy and take them under your wing.
Leave Them Wanting More!
If you take heed of these tips and leave in style, your absence will be noticed. Make sure they miss you and the door can be open for your return if it feels right in the future!