The 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Resigning Gracefully
- January 25, 2022
So, you’ve been successful in your interview, and you’ve secured your dream job – it’s an exciting time, and congratulations are in order.
In the excitement of being offered a new job role, it's sometimes easy to forget that there is a procedure to follow when it comes to resigning gracefully. You will, no doubt, have a notice period at your current workplace, and whatever your reasons for leaving, it’s wise to remain professional during this transitional time.
In today’s global economy, it’s more than likely you will meet up with past colleagues sooner or later - at events, conferences or even in another job role. Maintaining your professionalism will make future networking a positive experience and will enable you to leave your current role with your professional reputation intact.
In this article, I will cover the seven critical steps to take to ensure you follow due process during your period of notice and keep your exit graceful and professional.
1. Finalise Details With Your New Employer
Don’t be tempted to say anything to your current employer before you have finalised details with your new one.
Do make sure the details are negotiated and the ink dry on your contract – you should have your employment agreement signed, benefits package negotiated and a start date agreed in principle, before you begin to think about resigning gracefully from your current workplace.
2. Prepare Your Resignation
Keep your letter short and polite. Avoid any attempt to justify why you are leaving, but concentrate on expressing your gratitude for the opportunities and experience the company has offered you instead, and confirm you are choosing to now move on to pastures new.
Finally, make sure, as far as is practical, that you deliver your letter by hand when you verbally confirm your resignation.
3. Tell Your Line Manager First
Don’t tell your news to work colleagues before you have confirmed your resignation to your line manager.
It’s tempting when you have such a great secret to share it, but if word gets around (and it will) before you’ve told your immediate manager, it will look unprofessional.
So, tell your line manager before anyone else and have your resignation with you to hand over in person.
Additionally, it’s worth thinking about your response if he or she makes you a counteroffer.
4. Prepare Your Story
Prepare your story for leaving and stick to it – don’t be tempted to veer off course depending on who you're talking to. Remember, everyone else talks to each other too! Keep the story consistent - and the reasons behind it positive.
It’s also good to establish how and when you will tell colleagues about your departure. You may want to do this yourself, or let your line manager deliver the news.
5. Remain Professional
It’s sometimes tempting, especially if things haven’t always gone well in your workplace, to indulge in a private grumble to friends at work about the ‘real’ reasons you are going.
But that won't achieve anything – at least, nothing positive.
Remember – they are still working there and have a degree of loyalty to their company. It also won't show you in a good light and could make things awkward if your comments are overheard by the CEO.
Instead, remain professional and busy right up to your last day. Tie up loose ends where possible and keep focused on doing a great job. Your manager will notice – and your professionalism will no doubt be repaid with a glowing reference.
6. Plan Your Handover
Don’t be tempted to leave your employer with a mountain of unfinished tasks. It’s extremely unprofessional.
Whatever the reasons for your move, minimising the impact of your imminent departure will be helpful for all concerned.
Think about your role responsibilities, gather together details of any unfinished projects and list all urgent jobs and priorities. That way, your colleagues won't be left picking up the pieces when you go – and they will thank you for it!
If appropriate and possible, offer to train up your successor. If you have an immediate subordinate who will take your place, it’s good to offer to give them the benefit of your knowledge and insight to help them transition smoothly into their new role, and offering this help will cement your reputation as a consummate professional.
7. Accept an Exit Interview
Don’t pass up on the offer of an exit interview.
A lot of candidates I work with say they didn’t take up the offer of an exit interview when they left a previous employer – for various reasons, but one consistent one I hear is that they don’t think it was worthwhile, or that it wouldn’t ‘make a difference’.
Exit interviews tend to be held between the employee leaving and the HR department or their representative, and their benefit shouldn’t be overlooked. The interview is a chance for the HR department – and the company - to find out how they could improve staff wellbeing or be made aware of any issues that might have been previously unknown to them.
However, a chance to talk about difficulties you may have faced in the company doesn’t mean you should make it personal or bad-mouth former colleagues or bosses. It’s much more appropriate to highlight any issues you have in the interview, remembering to keep them professional and constructive.
Remember, a dignified exit from your workplace will see you remembered as a professional that people would be happy to work with in the future.
About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions
At Martin Veasey Talent Solutions, we have been working with blue-chip and SME businesses for over 35 years, both in the UK and around the world.
We are an independent consultancy company with highly qualified staff, including many degree and Masters educated consultants, with memberships of professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the British Psychological Society.
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