Career Success

Quitting with Class: How to Resign from Your Job

By Lana Johnson on August 9, 2019

If you’re currently employed and you’ve accepted a new job, it’s time to let your current boss know that you’re moving on. You might be elated at the thought of telling your boss “I quit!” Or, you might be nervous about how your boss will react. You might be excited about your new job and ready to move on in a professional way.

Whatever your mindset is, if you’re thorough, courteous, and professional, you’ll leave a positive lasting impression that can benefit you for the rest of your career.

Prepare Your Resignation

A little preparation will make your resignation a smooth experience. First, don’t tell anyone that you have a new job until you’ve told your boss. News travels fast and the last thing you want is for your boss to find out through the grapevine. Give your boss the professional courtesy of being the first to know.

Figure out when to resign and how much notice to give. Two weeks’ notice is standard, but your job might require more (or less) based on your seniority and/or tenure. You might also have stipulations if you have an employment contract. Consider how much notice you need to give, plan for any desired time off, and then target a day to meet with your boss.

Create your resignation letter. You’ll give a copy to your boss when you resign and remember, this letter will usually end up in your HR file for eternity, so keep it short, sweet, and professional.

Make a list of your current projects and responsibilities and think through ideas for a transition plan. Your boss will appreciate any recommendations you have.

Finally, you might not have access to your work space or your computer once you resign so discreetly clean things up beforehand. Take time to purge your computer of personal files, pictures, emails, and contacts and save anything you need to Google Drive or your personal email.

The Day You Resign

Be strategic about timing your resignation. If you already have a new job, your start date will dictate when you should resign. Otherwise, some experts say to resign on a Friday in the morning. Request a 1-1 meeting with your boss and quit in person, if possible. When the time comes, bring a printed copy of your resignation letter.   

People often get nervous when they’re quitting because they’re not sure how their boss will react. Relax, take a deep breath, and stay succinct. Be matter-of-fact and straight forward. Reassure your boss that you’ll support the transition and that you appreciate the opportunity to work for them and for the company.  

Anticipate different responses. Hopefully, your boss will be gracious about your decision to leave. However, they might be angry or disappointed for a variety of reasons. They might be concerned that you’re going to competitor or they might be worried that your departure will leave them in a bind. They might be critical about why you’re leaving or they might try to convince you to stay (this could include making you a counteroffer). They might want to know why you’re leaving, where you’re going, and how much money you’re getting.

Reply to your boss in a way in which you’re most comfortable. The amount of information you want to share is up to you. If you want to limit the information, try “I don’t care to share those details at this time” or “I’d rather not discuss that right now.” If your boss is trying to deter you from quitting, try “I’m very happy with my decision so let’s focus on transition.” 

How to Resign From Your Job

Start Spreading the News

Once your boss knows you’re leaving you can share the news with others. Agree with your boss on how to tell your team and other employees. As you say goodbye to co-workers, reach out to any mentors you might have had and thank them. Lastly, send a positive message to co-workers and colleagues with your contact information (see sample farewell messages here).

If your company has an HR dept, your manager should notify them about your resignation. If that doesn’t happen, reach out yourself so you can go through the off-boarding process to understand your remaining compensation and benefits. You might also be asked to conduct an exit interview.

Make a Positive Lasting Impression

Your goal when you resign is to limit stress and to create a positive last impression. Stay professional and work hard until your last day. Leave your company in such a way that you can comfortably ask your manager and co-workers to be a reference (or LinkedIn recommendation). Manage your resignation effectively so you can focus forward on your future.

(Note: if this approach doesn’t work, you can always try this!)

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