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How to Resign Professionally

  • Publish Date: Posted over 5 years ago

There are right and wrong ways of resigning from your job. Doing it the wrong way can lead to bad feelings between you and your employer, recriminations or even a bad reference. On the other hand, the correct resignation etiquette will contribute to continued success in both your personal and career development.

The Resignation Meeting (Resigning Orally)

Work out what you're going to say and stick to it. The boss will try and probe you for more information – details that you may not want to give at this stage. Don't be obstructive but make it clear that you are submitting an oral resignation.

Emphasise the positives as you never know when your career will mean that you cross paths with your former employers, so don't dwell on the negative aspects of your time at the firm.

Expect a reaction, unless your boss is expecting you to quit, your decision may come as a surprise. The boss may get emotional or even confrontational in which case, stick to your prepared comments.

Retain your composure. The boss may no longer see you as a team player and may even feel betrayed. Once again, stick to your prepared comments and try not to rise to the challenge. Speak in measured tones and regulate your breathing.

Always leave the meeting on a good note and be as co-operative as possible. Stress that you will undertake the handover of any uncompleted work to the best of your ability. People remember both the first and last impression you make on them.

The Written Resignation

A written letter of resignation always gives you more time to prepare what you want to say and gives you greater control of your message. Use this opportunity constructively.

In its simplest form, a resignation letter should only include the following information: name, date, the person it is addressed to, a notice of termination of employment, when this is effective from and finally, your signature. One of our letter templates (below) may be perfect for your circumstances.

If you're leaving under positive circumstances and feel that you want to say a little bit more, again, emphasise the positive. You could thank the boss for the opportunities he/she gave you - you never know when you may need your ex-employer to vouch for you or give you a reference.

However, if you're leaving in difficult or adverse circumstances, resist the temptation to badmouth and let off steam. Remember, your letter of resignation may be used for various reasons down the line.

Don't get personal. Just because you are now leaving, a written letter of resignation is not the vehicle with which to tell your boss what you thought of them. It is never polite to include personal remarks in a resignation letter. If you genuinely have differences of opinion with your boss, save the communication with them for another time and place. Never commit these thoughts to paper – your comments will remain in your personnel file and may come back to haunt you.