Several of my friends have recently left their companies, some as a result of natural career progression, some as a result of the company being acquired. But for all of them, i believe they sought to leave in as positive a way as possible.
Resigning a job well and with dignity and professionalism is tough, especially if there are strong reasons to push you away. But experience teaches us that it’s best to leave all relationships on good terms as the past can haunt you. Your future employer could know someone in the place you used to work, or maybe in future you may wish to go back to your old company. Your old boss may join your new company, or the HR person you embarrassed could be your next headhunter .
So here are some suggestions on how to part on the best of terms and to ensure a professional and positive resignation that will ultimately guarantee you a good reference in the future, and if possible keeping bridges open in case things don’t work out.
Set up a resignation meeting with your boss. It all depends upon your company, some suggest a meeting with HR, but the critical part is you don’t want to surprise your boss. Don’t tell them in the middle of the office or when they are on their lunch break, or just as they are leaving the office. Please arrange to have a quick chat with them just for five minutes. At this stage you should have accepted a new position with a new employer. You should be happy with your decision and new career move.
How do you think your manager will respond? Remain confident! Difficult as it may sound this is the key to your success. You will have signalled that you were unhappy with the company, so that they could do something to retain you. Or you could have had a recent career disappointment It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Inevitably the general response from management will be one of disappointment, regret and maybe even shock, even if you have spoken with your boss about your desires to enhance your career or disquiet with the current work environment.. They are about to lose a valuable member of their team so don’t be surprised if they are visibly shaken. Their first concern may be you, but its really about them. On their minds is so how am I going to cope without you, and when can I find a replacement so i don’t need to do the work.
To allow you to work through this difficult reaction try to remain positive at all times and disclose as little detail about your new role as possible, just in case they try to dissuade your new company from hiring you. If theres an attempt at a counter-offer remember that the vast majority of individuals who accept do not stay for more than 1-year. You have valid reasons other than money to move, and if it takes the threat of resignation to make changes, maybe it isn’t the place for you. Also in my experience those that fein resignation to get a promotion or a raise tend to be side tracked in future career evaluations as their immaturity in taking this threatening approach is noticed.
Please hand your resignation letter to your boss during your meeting. You don’t need a long resignation letter. Just do the following. As this is an official letter it needs to be two sentences only and should run something like this:
“This is to inform you of my intention to resign, effective after working for [state your notice period here] and i will finish on [date you will be leaving]. Thank you very much for the opportunity of working here.”
This doesn’t leave them reading an essay and allows you to say anything else you feel you have to say verbally, as we have dealt with. You may be tempted to include a middle paragraph explaining your reasons for leaving. This is unnecessary and could be damaging by causing the company to mark you as someone who is unsuitable for re-hire. A good reference is crucial and your ultimate goal. Remember: The letter is for the attention of one person only…your immediate boss. It should be typed and handed in-person to your boss during the resignation meeting. Don’t try and use the letter to get even or make a point. Your resignation has just done that if you needed to.
Don’t, don’t, never, ask to be released earlier than your notice period. It’s unprofessional of your new company to ask you to leave early, and is unprofessional of you to ask. Should the company offer an early release, you can accept. If you are a great hire, your new company will factor your notice period into their planning. If there is an unavoidably important meeting- arrange to take leave to attend.
one last things- pass to your boss a plan for the handover.
Leave your employer on the very best of terms. Even though you are leaving, work diligently during your notice period… It will be remembered. To increase your chances of coming across as a confident, positive and professional individual you should prepare a short report for your boss detailing the work you will complete before the date of your departure. This report is a ‘most important list’ and should be as detailed as possible even down to including who would be best suited to complete your work once you leave and the amount of outstanding work upon your departure date. This is a useful tool as it indicates to your boss that you have ultimately made the decision to leave. It also helps you complete your resignation meeting positively and professionally.
In addition, and to be passed over later, prepare a handover document for your boss and your replacement. Detail the tasks and issues your role has, and where to find information. Note for each issue and for general parts of the job, who your contacts are and what you do with them. Note important dates coming up (in the next 6 months) and what needs to be done when and why. Be a hero and make it easy for the next person to take over. You’ll be held in high esteem by your ex-boss and the HR team who you also give a copy of the handover along with your job description. So when you need anything from them you have a good reputation and can call on a favour or two.
We all leave roles, and we should aim to do so in a professional and positive way. Even if you hate the job and the people…. Rise above the pettiness that may have driven you a way. Be the employee you wish to have work for you. It will pay in the end.
So have you left a job recently, or have you had someone resign, share your thoughts with us on how if affected you.