How to resign the right way

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DatePosted on August 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM
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So the opportunity has arisen and you have accepted a generous offer in a new organisation, with a new role and new challenges. What’s next?  The dreaded resignation meeting with your boss. Most people think that the procedure for resigning is an issue for them. As they start to worry, they then over think and over complicate the matter. Yet, the procedure for resigning should be a simple one, as long as all the preparations are in place.

Remember, today’s employer is tomorrow’s referee, it is important not to burn any bridges and create problems for the future; hence your resignation should be planned and executed carefully.  If in doubt, KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid!

Resigning is easy, but resigning gracefully is more of a challenge. Let’s take a look at key aspects of your resignation:

1. Keep it confidential

Once you accept the offer and decide to leave, never discuss it casually with your coworkers prior to the resignation meeting with your boss. We all know how fast office rumor spreads! The same goes for friends, family or contacts (including recruiters/head hunters), as it would be just as worse, if not worse, if news of your exit are heard from outside your firm/company.

2. Plan ahead with your notice period

Always try to leave under the best possible terms and act professionally throughout; never leave your employer high and dry during a busy project. Think about your soon-to-be ex-colleagues who have to cover for lost headcount! If possible, always provide a nice comfortable time period for your employer to find a suitable replacement.  And remember, you are being paid by your present employers until the last minute of your notice period, so you're still an employee and representative of that organisation.

3. The delivery

Make a formal appointment with your boss. That way you can ensure and maintain a high level of professionalism as well as getting your manager’s full attention during the delivery. If it’s not possible to book an appointment, ask your manager/partner if he has 5 minutes to spare as you have some important matters to discuss.

Make sure the delivery is direct, short and simple. Skip any attempt to cushion the blow by creating a long winded and awkward story. Most partners and managers are extremely busy and they will appreciate a simple direct approach. Obviously, rehearsing the conversation privately is also a great idea.

E.g. "I need to let you know that I have been offered a new position at another company. I have really enjoyed working here, but I need to give you my notice as of today. Does it work for you if my last day is x day of x month?"

As discussed before, rehearsing this conversation is a great idea, as your manager will most likely have a few questions in store for you.  By preparing ahead you are ready to answer politely and be dignified about your resignation by refusing any counteroffer.

4. Be honest about it

This is where you can be honest and discuss why you decided to leave. If your boss is actually one of your main reasons for your departure, you can still deliver it politely and succinctly and without being negative and personal.

E.g. I've enjoyed working here and with you but I felt our working styles and approaches were getting further and further apart, and that we never meshed as well as I wished we had. Still, the overall experience here in this company has been very positive; and with this new opportunity, I feel excited to take on a new challenge.

5. Hand in your formal letter with a short paragraph tendering your notice 

Always insert this letter inside an envelope and address it (private and confidential) to your manager or partner. Agree with your manager on the timing of announcement of your departure. More often than not, your manager will want to determine the timing and content of the announcement. In this case, don't cramp his style.  

6. Shake hands with your boss

And of course, smile!  Thank him/her for everything, and walk out of the office with your head held high.