How to Resign

Resignation.  Accepting an offer for your dream job is the greatest feeling you can possibly feel.  The daunting part of the entire experience is resigning from your current position.  It shouldn’t be difficult but there are a range of emotions throughout the experience and it’s your job to keep everything under control.  We too often rely on the organization to manage our exit, our experience and our reputation. This is on you.

The actual resignation. The type of resignation communication you choose is entirely based on the relationship you have with your supervisor.   

The most professional way to convey your resignation would be a verbal or face to face discussion. This gives you the opportunity to convey why you are leaving your position.  You do not need to give details about where you are going and what you will be doing.  You also should not give details of the new compensation package the new employer offered.   

The follow up to this verbal conversation is a short email to your direct supervisor with a formal resignation letter.  Keep it short and sweet and convey your end date.   

Here is where it gets tricky

You may be leaving your position because of non-emotional reasons.  For example, the job just isn’t interesting to you or the hours aren’t working out for your schedule.  Or you are leaving your job for reasons you want to scream from the rooftops to whomever will listen.  For example, you have a horrible relationship with your boss, you have toxic coworkers, the culture is abusive, you are under compensated, or you have been treated unfairly.   I would expect the latter reason to be the main reason most people look for a new job.  The saying goes – people leave their manager, not their job. 

Your job in resigning professionally is to mediate those feelings, convey them professionally, and mitigate burning bridges for your future.  It’s hard. Companies have a very difficult time refraining from emotion after an employee gives notice. It’s almost as if the company and leadership become besmirched that anyone would think to leave them.  How dare we!   

Counter Offers.   My advice will always be not to take a counteroffer.  Your employer may come back with more money, better title, or even a flexible schedule.  My opinion, you started to interview for a reason. You accepted the other position for a reason.  You are delaying the inevitable if you take a counter.  80% of all employees who accept a counteroffer leave within 6-months’ time (Source: Forbes).  Pass on the counter and keep moving to your next great adventure! 

After the resignation.  Once you give your end date you must work on transferring your knowledge.  My advice is to take it upon yourself to begin to document what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.  Your boss may not even ask for it but do it anyways.  In my experience, companies wait too long to come up with a plan departure.  They take time to process the resignation (emotionally) and often forget to manage the transition.   

Start to organize your files, come up with a list of contacts that need to know you are leaving (administrative staff, customers, vendors, leadership, coworkers), update your reports, start to clean up your workspace, inventory your personal items, and create a to-do list for your final weeks.  Keep yourself organized.  Own your departure. 

Work with your supervisor on your plan.  Allow your supervisor the opportunity to own the communication process to internal employees, vendors, customers and leadership.   

Exit Interviews: At most employers you will have the option to speak to someone in HR or fill out an exit interview form. This is your opportunity to discuss the topics you have been holding back. Use this forum to relay your feelings about the culture, management, position, coworkers, and compensation. This information is normally used when working through training, culture, organizational management, and wellness initaitives.

Now, how about what NOT do to!

We have all resigned from positions that we hated.  Emotions are very difficult to manage in times of change, especially if the company cannot manage their own emotions.  I have seen many cases of unprofessional resignations so let’s walk through what you should NEVER do

Do not start the deleting party.   When angry, your first instinct may be to delete every creation you have ever made for the company.  I realize it may feel great in the moment to feel like you are hurting the company.  A revenge of sorts. But step away.  It won’t hurt the company.  It will hurt you and your professional reputation.  9 times out of 10 the IT department can recover whatever you decided to delete so think before you react.  It’s not worth it.  It’s not worth the company disparaging you after you leave. Your reputation is all you have in this world. 

Do not start an angry GlassDoor review.  Give yourself 30 days out of the company before you decide to review.  Step away from the emotion and start your new position first.  You may realize that you learned something in the experience. You will be able to give a more methodical and less emotional review of the organization.  You want to help potential candidates understand the company and an emotional hate-filled review is only going to make yourself look unhinged.  So, before you leap to GlassDoor, just take some time to process all the emotion. 

Leave Quietly.  Start to bring your personal belongings home throughout your resignation period. Everyday bring a little home with you.  Create a calm exit that is not filled with the emotion of wheeling out your belongings in front of your coworkers.   

Manage relationships carefully.  The surprising thing about giving your resignation is how coworkers and leaders react to it.  It could go one of two ways.  Either your coworkers treat you no different or they become distant and forget you exist.  It always shocks me when the latter happens. You will realize quickly what “work friend” means.  You are no longer part of their tribe; you are leaving them for “greener” pastures.  They may feel resentful of that or the relationship you thought you had was just because you sat in the cubicle next to them.   Manage your disappointment and manage the emotions.  Allow people to process their emotions and release expectations that you have on people.  Own your departure. 

Contain your excitement. As exciting as it may be, contain yourself while you are at work.  Don’t run around telling everyone what you are doing, don’t tell people why you are leaving, don’t gossip, and don’t start mass emails announcing how excited you are for this next great thing.  Don’t allow those around you to resent you.  Be respectful of the organization and the employees during your resignation period.   

Be careful on social media.  We all post every feeling, meal and accomplishment on social media.  During your resignation period, be careful how much information you share on social media.  Wait until communication has been sent to employees before announcing on social media that you are leaving the organization.  Again, give yourself 30 days after leaving before you review the organization to those that follow you.   You own your personal brand. Remember, social media is forever.

Resigning is never easy.  You are in control of your personal brand. You are in control of our reputation.   

Live your values, always.

You got this.