Second only to the stress of finding a new job comes the stress of having to resign. Individuals seeking a new challenge to their career can often forget the importance of handling a resignation correctly if they have a new job secured – but conducting a resignation professionally is just as important as appearing professional in an interview; and when handled poorly it can taint an individual’s professional future.
How to resign
There are numerous examples of how not to resign. One of the most recent instances in the news has been Sepp Blatter’s poor handling of his stepping-down as President of FIFA – promising to leave amidst controversy over the actions of the organisation, before making a U-turn and failing to provide a reform of the organisation as promised.
While Blatter’s presence tarnished the public’s opinion of FIFA, his mishandling of his resignation has tarnished his own personal reputation, too. Although candidates hopefully won’t be resigning due to allegations of fraud and corruption, a lesson can be learned here: How one resigns is almost as important as why.
1. Be clear in your notice period and what you will be expected to do.
Before rushing to accept a new offer, it is important to be sure what your notice period is and what you will be expected to do in that time. Be respectful to your current employer and leave enough time between resigning and starting a new job so that they can find a suitable replacement and transfer responsibilities accordingly.
And when working your notice period, don’t lose interest in the job or appear unenthusiastic. Be clear and co-operative when handing over workloads and remain a valuable asset until you leave.
2. Do have the conversation in person and provide your decision in writing.
It is important to resign both in person and in writing, and in both instances always remain professional. When discussing why you are choosing to leave a company, be polite and detailed as to why; emphasise the positives of working with the company but explain why you are seeking a new opportunity, without being too brash or rude.
This is especially important if a new job requires a character reference. If you are discourteous in an exit interview, it could harm your future reputation.
For the resignation letter, never use it as an opportunity to lay out all the negatives about a job. Be clear that you are leaving, provide administrative details such as your end-date and considerations regarding final pay, untaken holiday and other aspects. You can choose to be as detailed as you want regarding why you are leaving, but it is important to note that you are under no obligation to provide details regarding your new job or the position you have accepted. In fact it is best not to disclose the company you are moving to as this helps to prevent complications moving forwards.
Do, however, keep the letter confidential so that your boss has a say over how and when to tell colleagues.
3. Be prepared for some negative reactions.
Although you may try your best to be professional and polite when resigning, it is natural to be met with reactions ranging from shock and sadness to anger. You are, after all, leaving a company in the lurch and potentially leaving behind valued friends and colleagues.
Don’t get emotional if your colleagues or boss try to lay on the guilt. If you are leaving because the work environment is particularly toxic, this could well become an issue. Don’t feel bad for ‘deserting’ the team.
When to resign
There is a lot of conflicting information regarding the best time, day and situation when it comes to resigning. For most it is often best to resign once you have a new job already lined-up; it is often easier to get a new job whilst working, and so resigning is far less of a gamble if your next opportunity is secure.
If feasible it is also sometimes easiest to resign at the end of the week, when your manager or boss has the weekend to consider the next steps and hopefully be understanding of your wishes and supportive of your decision.
Resignation letter advice and template
As much consideration should be given to a resignation letter as a cover letter or CV. It’s important to keep it formal and professional, and include specific details in writing in case it is necessary at a later date. There are a number of different examples of resignation letter templates, but most need to include the following:
There’s no need to be overly formal (‘To Whom It May Concern’) or too chatty, but a simple introduction and statement of the facts – that this is your resignation letter – is enough.
Include when you believe your final working day should be based on your notice period; there is no need to include information on when you start your new job. Also clearly state the job from which you are resigning (your job title).
Simply including the above and signing off is enough, but it is often a good idea to expand on your reasoning, especially if you want to maintain a good relationship with the firm:
If you had a positive relationship with your boss and at the company, say so – state that you are sad to be leaving and appreciate the experience you have gained, but that you have been offered another position and it is with fondness that you are moving on.
A thank you goes a long way in both personal and professional spheres. Thank your boss and colleagues for their help and wish the company and individuals well in the future.
If you had a really positive relationship with your employer, offer to help with the transfer of work and seeking a replacement. You could also offer to provide information should they require it after you have left.
To help with this process we have also included a resignation template including all of the above points:
Resignation Letter Template
Dear [boss’ name],
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation as [job title], as I have been offered a job at another company. My last day of employment will be [insert date] as per the notice period specified under the terms of my employment contract.
I appreciate the opportunities I have been given at [company name] and your professional guidance and support. I have really enjoyed the variety of projects and challenges I have tackled and have learnt much about the industry.
I’d like to extend a warm thank you to you and the rest of the management team for all of your support over the last [months/years]. I wish you and the company every success in the future.
I will endeavour to complete all current projects and ensure all work is handed over by my final working date. Please do get in touch if you require any further information after I have left.
Yours sincerely / Kind regards,
Whether your letter is more formal or appreciative, sent in an email or printed form, an official recognition of your resignation in writing is always advised.NEWS ARCHIVE