How to resign? We’re kidding, right? Surely, everyone knows the basics of how to resign? Slap the letter of resignation on the desk, throw in a couple of home truths and stroll off into the sunset….
Well, not quite. You are in many cases telling your boss that, when it comes to your career – you now love someone else and you’re leaving. Worst case you are telling your boss you’d rather be “alone” than have them involved in your career anymore. For some, that moment of resignation can be joyous! For others, it can be nerve-shredding because you don’t know how the other side will react.
Not only are you now saying something is wrong with your current position, but you are acting on it. Something, somewhere happened that meant you lost your belief, your connection, and your vision of remaining with that organisation. Those in authority don’t like that!
Regardless of your emotions, there is an etiquette for how to resign. Our blog should give you some guidance and perspective so that when you do resign you do it professionally and you don’t exit the building with the same gusto as Bonnie and Clyde robbing a bank!
Some Ground Rules
There are two fundamentals of how to resign:
Firstly, put it in writing. You want to record the date, your act of resignation from the company, and your willingness to maintain your hard work and professionalism during your notice period. Put this in a letter or email as should things venture down a formal route you have something in writing documenting your decision. That is key.
If you are owed any wages, notice pay, commission, or accrued holiday ensure this is logged for your future self to remember. This is not suggesting that your boss will forget, but they will not often know the exact circumstances of your employment as well as you.
Second, always be polite. There’s no room for aggression or plain bad manners and it never helps you get what you want. Keep written contact short, sweet, and genial as severing ties and burning bridges is never a good idea. You never know when you might need something from that person or company again.
It comes up many times in recruitment – some companies want references going back five years so it is always worth leaving in the best way possible.
Decency and kindness will almost always resolve any dispute or complication faster than aggression or rudeness.
Deciding To Resign
Let’s take things back a step, though, and think for a second on the “why resign” question. Are you actually making the right call? If you are nervous about leaving an organisation is that because you are not sure you are making the right decision? Is the grass really going to be greener?
As said, no one resigns from a job they love. Money, hours of work, the commute, lack of progression or learning, the colleague sat next to you with dog’s breath. Something negative made you look beyond your current role. With any luck, there are actually aspects of your role that you do enjoy.
Therefore resigning, may not be a straightforward decision. Talk it through with friends and family, draw up some sort of table of pros and cons. It is always ego-boasting to receive a job offer from elsewhere and leap without thinking. Therefore, make sure you’ve done your due diligence on your new company. Look at company reviews on Google and Glassdoor etc. and seek our advice about changing roles.
The same goes for taking a career break or going for a complete career change. It’s certainly an exciting prospect but you should ensure you go through all possible scenarios with a trusted confidante.
Whatever your reason for resigning you shouldn’t be scared to document it in your letter of resignation. This isn’t an excuse to be unprofessional. Concentrate on the big issues such as salary, career progression, or cultural differences that have influenced you. Not that John in accounts has a laugh like a hyena or Mary in IT keeps creeping you out…I mean save that for the exit interview if you feel strongly on the matter!
What To Do First
Once you’ve come to your decision, you should consider a few things before blurting out the news to everyone in your organisation.
News travels fast so keep things to yourself until you’ve done the following:
- Ensure you have a copy of, and have read through your contract of employment and any other related paperwork (e.g. A Restricted Covenant should this apply).
- Know your notice period and your accrued holiday.
- Have a document made up of any payment that is owed to you.
- You have a copy of your letter of resignation.
These steps are not to get one over on anybody or to go in heavy-handed. It just means that you’ve done everything right and in order before proceeding.
Whilst it’s tempting to talk to and tell colleagues of your news and impending resignation, don’t. The Director, Manager, Team Leader, or whoever it is that you need to hand your notice to should always be the first to be made aware. This is simply because it’s the right thing to do. If they are made aware of your impending resignation through office gossip it will make your situation incredibly awkward.
Draw up your letter, and if needs be use the tools available online. The Government website, Citizen’s Advice, Glassdoor and many job boards are all good resources for giving you a template resignation letter that will be formal, professional and to the point. Regardless of your feeling toward your organisation, manager, team, or job – your tone should be professional with a note of thanks to close things off.
Remember, you’ll likely need a reference and/or a P45 and you’ll likely still need to continue working your notice period so, tempting as it may be to write down some withheld truths or admissions, definitely don’t!
Delivering The News
Once the letter’s ready, take it personally to the relevant party, rather than dropping it onto a desk or pigeon hole.
As nerve-wracking as it is to deliver bad news to someone in authority, it’s the proper way to handle your situation and engineer a smooth exit.
Again, with any luck, this person will be someone who will react to your resignation with decency and professionalism. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. If this figure to deliver in that respect, simply take a breath, pass the letter and don’t become drawn into an emotional conversation. When it comes to resigning you only control your behavior, not the reaction it is greeted with.
And then breathe, you’ve done it. You should receive some communication stipulating the next steps and requirements from you. You may be invited to an exit interview – in which case you should continue to be professional and honest about your reasons for leaving. But fundamentally at this stage, you are just following the process.
Resigning is not always easy, and can be a minefield. You will tread an emotional tightrope of trying to control your excitement at starting a new chapter of your life and yet not dropping your professionalism and commitment to your current employer.
Remember, keep it polite, be professional, and follow proper procedures. Your goal is to resign and move on with as much dignity and as little friction as possible.
About The Author
Daniel Oldfield is the Branch Manager of The Recruitment Lab, a Brighton recruitment agency. He has worked in Recruitment for six years. He has a degree in Journalism and considers himself a film and music buff. Daniel also runs The Brighton Film Club review site in his own time. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would like to express your thoughts just contact Dan through The Recruitment Lab website.