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The Right Way To Resign

You’re voluntarily changing jobs. Hopefully congratulations are in order because you’ve accepted an exciting and challenging position with a new employer.

The one downfall to moving on is leaving your current employer behind – and regardless of circumstances, it’s important to resign and exit in a positive and professional manner.

As you plan to announce your resignation and serve out your notice, keep in mind that supervisors and peers may be blindsided by the news.

You can look at the proper resignation process in three phases:


Consider the start date and any other logistics related to your new opportunity, and time your notice and last day on the current job accordingly. You may receive pressure to stay as long as possible in your current role, or, the new employer may want you in to start as quickly as possible. Remember, you are in control. Try to budget your time to respect the demands of both, while enabling a comfortable transition for yourself. Whenever possible, provide at least two weeks’ notice.

Be prepared for the possibility that your manager might react irrationally or emotionally to your announcement.  Be sure to carefully and discreetly clear your computer and workspace of personal files and other items, just in case you are asked to leave the company immediately or on short notice.

The Announcement

Delivering the news that you’re leaving is rarely easy; regardless of your feelings about the current job or your relationship with the supervisor you’re informing.

Prepare a resignation letter – dated and signed in a hard copy format – so that your manager and HR have proper documentation for your employee file. The content of this letter should be simple, direct, and positive in tone; include your desired last day, and express appreciation for the time and opportunity you received with the company. Be sure to have printed and scanned versions ready before you make your announcement.

Deliver your resignation in person or as close to it as possible. If you and your supervisor work in the same office, request a face-to-face meeting. If you don’t, request a phone call or video conference. Simply emailing this person sight unseen with the resignation letter attached is not ideal and should be avoided.

Remember, your manager will inevitably have a reaction to your news. It may be encouraging, or possibly negative; or perhaps you’ll receive a counteroffer to stay onboard. Be prepared for anything and, more importantly, be sure to maintain your composure and professionalism.

Remaining Time

Everything about the way you resign leaves a final and lasting impression on the employer you’re leaving. When you and your supervisor have come to acceptable terms related to your departure, show respect and be as helpful as possible with your remaining time.

Start by asking your manager about the best way to spend the time you have left. Offer to assist with scoping your job description and providing a status update on your various areas of responsibility.  Strive to complete open tasks and projects to the best of your ability and document as you go so that your transition out minimizes disruption and keeps things moving productively.

If offered an exit interview, accept it and focus on the good – what you enjoyed most about the job, work environment, etc. – but consider this is also your opportunity to provide honest and constructive feedback.

As the news of your resignation spreads, colleagues may approach you to learn more, so be thoughtful, upbeat, and consistent in your response; even if you’re taking a better job, don’t brag about it or downplay the job you’re leaving.

On your last day, be sure to send a short farewell email to leadership, colleagues, teammates, and/or anyone else with whom you enjoyed working. Express appreciation and invite them to stay in touch by providing contact information such as phone number, personal email address and/or LinkedIn profile.

A careful approach to resignations can ensure that both parties weather the transition more smoothly.  Use these guidelines to do your part and if you’re unsure if your approach is right, our employment experts at EFPR Solutions can help. Feel free to contact us.

EFPR Solutions is a business consulting firm in Rochester, NY that provides staffing and outsourcing services in accounting, finance and human resources. To learn more about our experienced team of business consultants and how we can assist your organization, please call 585-486-0725, email or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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