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How to Resign From a Job Professionally

You’ve decided to resign. What now? How do you navigate your exit to ensure you leave on a positive note? The key is to remain positive and professional to avoid burning any bridges. This will support your career in the long run. To help you exit well, take a look at these simple steps you can follow.

Be clear on why you are resigning

Take the time to reflect on why you want to move on. This helps ensure you are not making any hasty decisions that you will regret later. Being clear on what is important to you also helps, should there be any attempts to persuade you to stay. Remember, it is best practice to have a formal written offer before you resign if you are leaving because you have another job.

Check your notice period

For most people, the notice period will be two or four weeks. However, this could be much longer if you are in a critical or senior role, or have been with your organisation for a long time. Check your employment contract to confirm. It’s important to understand what your notice period is. Knowing when your last day is will help with transition and handover plans. This is also important if you intend on negotiating your notice period.

Organise a face to face meeting with your manager

Regardless of why you want to leave, your resignation should be as positive as possible. Resigning in person (or via videoconference) is professional and respectful.

Write a resignation letter

A resignation letter formalises your departure. The letter captures when your notice period should begin and will be saved as part of your employee file.  That’s why it should be factual, professional, and concise. Save positive sentiments for your farewell speech and constructive feedback for the exit interview. This is a good time to check your leave balances to ensure your final pay is correct.

Be gracious when resigning

Here’s how you can structure the conversation:

  • Let your manager know you have given the decision careful consideration.
  • Focus on the new opportunity or the need to move on.
  • Express gratitude for your time at the company. If you are stuck, consider the benefits of a steady pay check, the relationships formed, skills developed, or experienced gained. Showing your appreciation helps keep the conversation upbeat.
  • If it was a particularly difficult decision to arrive at, let your manager know. This may help soften the blow of your pending departure.
  • You don’t need to disclose what and where you are moving onto. But if you do decide to share, remain humble.

If you need to walk back your resignation for whatever reason, it will be a much easier conversation given your professional conduct.

Finalise your work and provide a good handover

Your final weeks at work are not a time to go into cruise control mode. Consider how you want to be remembered. What do you want your manager and colleagues to say about you when asked? Their feedback will be critical for formal and informal reference checks when you are next looking for work.

There is also a housekeeping element to creating a positive exit. Make sure you have submitted any outstanding expense or leave forms in time for them to be processed before your departure. Dig out that dongle and headset you were given years ago to return them in good order. Go through your workstation: scan and save any paperwork and then secure-shred them. Take home any plastic containers or food you have stored in the kitchen. Go through the coat cupboard to check for forgotten dry cleaning or winter coats. Seek out individuals that you’d like to thank or recognise. On your last day, clean your workstation thoroughly.

Provide constructive feedback

If you take part in an exit interview it’s best to focus on providing constructive feedback that will benefit the organisation and employees (current and future). You may like to ask about how the feedback is shared and used.  This information can help inform what you focus on.

Ask for recommendations

While the great work you are doing is currently top of mind and can be easily recalled, ask your manager, stakeholders, and colleagues for written recommendations. This could include LinkedIn endorsements. Putting in the effort now will help with career moves later.

To sum up

Changing jobs is a part of everyday life. Resignations don’t have to be awkward or negative. Following these steps will help you resign well and leave on a positive note. All the best with your next adventure!

For more advice, check out the resources we’ve put together. If you are on the market for your next IT opportunity, take a look at our job board to see all of our current vacancies. Register with Clicks via the Job Seekers page so you don’t miss out. We also have a fantastic referral program that can earn you $500 for every great person you send our way.

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