How to resign

Exit your job the right way


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How to resign


Resigning is something that people get really worked up about: afraid, guilty, excited - all different species of "worked up".  But there is no need.  

Resigning is just something you need to do.  

There are however right and wrong ways of doing it.

The Wrong way Violence, verbal or physical is out.  In fairness, no one has ever told me that they were going to actually 'brain' their boss, but many people have described their intention of well, it usually involves the phrase "and I am going to tell her to stick it where the sun....."  You know the one. Doing this is a mistake.  Parting badly does not help you, the colleagues you leave behind or indeed the idiot you are getting away from.  It might however mean that you get a bad reference, and of course although you may feel very happy about what you have said for 5 minutes you will almost certainly feel a fool and maybe even guilty thereafter.  Up to you, of course, but on balance it is best to 'maintain one's dignity'.

The Right Way Leave your role in such a way that your reference is preserved, your dignity is intact and so that the relationship with your former employer is not broken.  You never know when you might need something in the future.  And I promise that you will feel better about yourself if you part on good terms.

How to resign Enough of the preamble. Let's do it.

1. Make sure that this is the right decision. Use my Personal Career Audit to make sure this is the right decision, and read my BLOG on the dangers of the counter-offer.

2. Establish the facts. Find out your notice period and establish whether or not you have any outstanding holiday entitlement that you could use to offset your notice or for which you could accept payment. Talk to your next employer about when they want you to start.  It’s a good idea to have at least a few days off between jobs so that you can decompress.  Get it all written down and decide your ideal end and start dates.

3. Do not resign until you have an offer. When I say an offer, I mean in writing, in your hand.  With your new employer’s signature on it. No ifs, not buts. NEVER resign on the basis of a verbal offer, a handshake or wink and a nod.  Written offers only. And sign a copy and send it back.

4.  Work out to whom you should resign. In most cases this will be your line manager, in some companies it will be an HR bod. Find out when they are in the office.  Contact them to say that you need to see them.  They will know immediately what you are going to do.

5. Write a resignation letter It must contain: the date you are giving notice, the date of the day that contractually will be your last.  It is also the place to say thank you (especially if you mean it!)

6. Don't give too much information. When you meet don't tell them too much about what you are going to do next.  The job title and possibly the company, but only if you must.   They may use it to make you feel guilty, or start talking about the problems the other company are having or any number of things.  All of which.  You do.  Not.  Want!

7. The Killer phrase Use this phrase, it shuts things down beautifully: "I am sure that you respect me enough to realise that I would not be having this discussion with you unless I had made up my mind".  I love that one, if I say so myself.  You can use that in your resignation letter, too.

8. Remain pleasant and assertive throughout The process will usually now follow this pattern.  Most managers will need to talk to someone else, their boss or HR.  They will drag their heels whilst they work out what they want to do and then finally they will agree a leaving date with you.  Now you can plan your leaving do!

9. The Leaving Do Jagerbombs are always a mistake.  Do drop hints as to what to get you as a leaving preseent.  I was once given an electric drill as a leaving present.  Me, the least practical man in the world.  I smiled.  Don't settle any scores.  Apart from with Barbara in accounts.  You can have that one.  

10. Keep your future employer fully informed throughout the process   I have one another trick up my sleeve, and that is how to negotiate a reduction in your notice period.  That one's for another BLOG.

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For personal help with CV Writing, LinkedIn Profiles, Interviews or your Job Search, please give me a call on +44(0)333 300 1296.

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