Did you know that the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.1 years in January 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? This means that resignations are a common occurrence in the workplace. People leave their jobs for many reasons – a more enticing job offer, dissatisfaction with their current role, or personal circumstances that necessitate a change. But, the art of resignation isn’t just about leaving a job; it’s about leaving without setting the bridge on fire.
In this guide, we’ll explore the do’s and don’ts of putting in your resignation. By the end, you’ll be equipped to exit your job on a high note. Remember, leaving your job gracefully is as crucial as making a stellar impression on your first day.
The “Do’s” When Putting In Resignation
1. Review your handbook or employment contract
Before you even think about handing in your notice, take a moment to review your employee contract or handbook. While there are no federal or state laws mandating a two weeks’ notice, your employment contract might require it. Failing to give adequate notice could result in you being marked as ineligible for rehire.
If you’re an “at-will employee“, your employer may ask you to leave immediately, especially if you’re heading to a competitor. Be sure to understand any non-compete clauses in your contract and seek legal advice if you’re unsure.
2. Be prepared and have a plan
If you’re leaving to join a competitor, brace yourself for a potentially immediate exit from your current office. Your employer may revoke your access to your email, computer, and office immediately.
Plan your departure meticulously – decide your last date, how much notice to give, how to inform your boss and coworkers, prepare responses for potential questions, and a transition strategy for your responsibilities.
3. Consider potential counteroffers
If you’re a valuable asset to the company, they may make a counteroffer to entice you to stay. Consider beforehand if there’s any chance you would accept such an offer. If not, be ready to politely and firmly decline.
4. Only give notice when you have signed the offer letter
Verbal offers can fall through. Therefore, only submit your formal resignation once you’ve officially signed the offer letter from your new employer.
5. Give enough notice
While two weeks is the standard notice period in many regions and industries, be sure to check your employment contract for any specified notice period. The objective of giving two weeks notice is to maintain goodwill and allow your employer time to find a replacement and plan for your departure.
6. Announce the news in person
Resigning should ideally be a face-to-face conversation. This respectful approach allows for direct communication and shows your boss that you value your relationship with them. Give a brief and honest explanation of why you’re leaving, but avoid discussing any negative aspects of the company or your coworkers.
There is no need to complicate the matter. Simple, straightforward communication will suffice. As career coach Andrew LaCivita puts it, “The only language you should be using is ‘I am resigning, I’m letting you know my last date is…’ That’s it. I have accepted another job. Throw that in there. Not ‘I’m thinking about another job,’ ‘I’m contemplating another job,’ ‘I’m waiting for an offer from another job.”
7. Tell your boss before others
Your boss should be the first to know about your departure, even if some of your colleagues may already be aware because they acted as references for you during your job search.
This shows respect and avoids the awkward scenario of them hearing the news second-hand.
8. Write an official two weeks’ notice letter
After discussing your resignation with your boss, follow up with a formal resignation letter personally or via email. Keep it simple, professional, and appreciative. The letter should include the position you’re resigning from and your last working day. This is a tangible record of your intention to leave and further reinforces your professionalism.
As LaCivita advises, “You want to make sure that you have a letter of resignation written. You do not want to email the letter of resignation before you speak to somebody about actually resigning. So you want to prepare your letter and then you want to go talk to either your direct boss if that’s who you have the best relationship with or if you don’t really speak to your boss much, maybe you go down the hall, you talk to HR.”
Here is a resignation letter template that you can use:
[City, State, ZIP]
[Your Email Address]
[City, State, ZIP]
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
I am writing to formally resign from my position as a [Your Job Title] at [Company Name], effective two weeks from today, [exact date].
This decision has not been made lightly, but after careful consideration, I have accepted an opportunity that aligns with my long-term career goals.
I want to express my deepest gratitude for the experiences and opportunities that I’ve had during my tenure with the company. I have greatly valued the professional growth and camaraderie in the [Your Department/Team Name].
Over the next two weeks, I will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition. I am committed to leaving my responsibilities in a good state for my successor and am more than willing to assist in the training of a replacement. Please let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to focus on during this period.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to [Company Name]. I look forward to maintaining our professional relationship in the future and hope we can keep in touch.
9. Have a transition plan
To minimize disruption, prepare a seamless transition plan for your responsibilities. This could involve training a colleague or preparing detailed notes for your successor. This will leave a positive impression and reassure your coworkers that you’re not leaving them unsupported. Your offer to help make the transition smoother will be greatly appreciated and remembered.
10. Wrap up your work
During your final two weeks period, strive to complete any pending tasks or projects and tie all the loose ends. This includes cleaning up your workspace and leaving it ready for the next person. It’s an act of courtesy that speaks volumes about your professional integrity.
11. Be respectful and show gratitude
Stay professional and respectful throughout the process. Say goodbye to your coworkers and bosses, and thank them for the opportunity to work with them. You can send out a thoughtful goodbye email as a final farewell. You could also consider giving a small note or token of appreciation to your boss.
The “Don’ts” When Putting in Resignation
While it’s important to understand the “dos” of resigning, it’s equally crucial to be aware of the “don’ts”. Here are some key points to avoid when putting in your resignation:
1. Don’t quit on impulse
No matter how enticing the thought may be after a particularly challenging day, avoid resigning on a whim. “To be sure, how you quit matters. The last thing you want to do is act on impulse, or even rage quit,” says Michelle Fox, a renowned CNBC reporter. “You could wind up tarnishing your reputation and may have a difficult time explaining why you left your last job to potential future employers.”
Be sure to evaluate your situation rationally and, if possible, discuss your thoughts with trusted mentors or advisors.
2. Don’t share too much information
While it’s crucial to be honest about your departure, be careful about oversharing. You might have mixed feelings about leaving the company, but it’s unnecessary to lay everything bare. Keep the conversation centered on your decision to pursue a new job and avoid going into extensive detail about your grievances.
3. Don’t resign on a verbal offer
Tempting as it may be, never resign based solely on a verbal job offer, even you have accepted the job offer but haven’t signed contract.
Ensure you have a written offer in hand from your new employer before you take any action. Doing so protects you if the offer falls through for any reason.
4. Don’t announce on social media before you put in formal notice
In the era of digital networking, this is a step you want to avoid. Regardless of how excited you are about your next step, it’s best to hold off on the social media announcements until after you’ve submitted your formal notice.
“Your current employer shouldn’t hear about your departure through the grapevine,” notes Alison Doyle, a career expert. “Always communicate your resignation formally before broadcasting it to the world.”
5. Don’t criticize the company
Even if you’re leaving due to dissatisfaction, refrain from criticizing your employer during your resignation conversation or in your resignation letter. Maintain a positive and professional demeanor throughout the process. Remember, the focus should be on your new opportunities, not on the negatives of the past.
6. Don’t use unprofessional language
Language matters, especially when you’re leaving a job. While you may feel a range of emotions about your departure, it’s essential to communicate professionally. Using unprofessional language can harm your reputation and potential references. Strive for a respectful, courteous dialogue throughout the process.
7. Don’t neglect your current responsibilities
Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you should start slacking off. Continue performing your duties to the best of your ability. Your last few weeks should reflect your dedication and work ethic, reinforcing a positive image.
8. Don’t forget to say goodbye
Last but not least, ensure you say farewell to your colleagues. You’ve spent considerable time with them, and they deserve a thoughtful goodbye. A positive farewell can help maintain professional relationships and network connections that may be beneficial down the line. You might even consider gifts to give when you are leaving your job as a token of appreciation for the shared experiences and friendship.
Here’s a sample goodbye email to your colleagues on your last day:
Subject: Farewell and Best Wishes
As many of you may already know, today marks my last day of work at [Company Name]. I am writing this email to express my heartfelt gratitude for the experiences we’ve shared and the memories we’ve created together.
Over the past [number of years/months at the company], I have had the privilege of working with some of the most dedicated and talented individuals I’ve ever met. Your unwavering commitment to excellence, your trust, and your support have been instrumental in my growth both professionally and personally.
While it’s not easy to say goodbye, I am excited for the new journey that lies ahead. I leave with cherished memories and lessons that I will carry with me into the future.
I hope our paths cross again and I would love to stay in touch. Please feel free to reach me at [Your Email Address].
Thank you once again for everything. Wishing you all the very best.
In summary, the process of putting in resignation requires thoughtful steps, ensuring you leave on good terms and pave the way for your future professional endeavors. So, keep these “do’s” and “don’ts” in mind as you navigate this significant transition, and embark on your next chapter with grace and professionalism.