Going through the process to resign from a job is never as simple as it sounds, especially if it is your first time doing so at the beginning of your career.
Over the time period with your company, you develop a routine in the work you do, you build bonds with the people that work there, and you may feel a sense of responsibility towards the company that took a chance on you and gave you an offer.
It is common to feel a sense of guilt when you decide to move on with your career and this is completely normal.
Do what’s best for you
You have to remind yourself that you need to do what is in the best interest for your career path. People come and go all the time within companies and they will find someone to fill your position a lot quicker than you would think.
Also, remind yourself that it is a business. If the roles were reversed and the company was downsizing their staff, they would have no trouble letting you go.
So if an opportunity comes up that you want to pursue, you have outgrown your current role and want to leave, or you have just had it with your team and company, resigning and moving on is a necessary move to make.
In this post, I’ll break down the steps you should take when going through the process of resigning. The 18 steps occur under 3 phases:
- Planning to Resign
- Delivery of Resignation
- Notice Period
At the end, I’ll also share what you should NEVER do when resigning.
Let’s dive in.
1. Planning to Resign
In this phase you’ll want to plan out how you’ll go about resigning. You’ll want to think of the before, during, and after of the process. Think of the conversations you will inevitably need to have and how you’ll leave as efficiently as possible.
1. Thoroughly think over your decision to resign
The first thing you should do in the process of resigning is think deeply about your choice to do so. Identify what your reasons are and assess the pros and the cons.
- Do you have a job lined up after?
- Are you resigning with nothing lined up for a next move?
- What would happen if you stayed in your current role? Would you get a promotion?
Ask yourself these types of questions and try to envision your career path 1, 5, 10 years down the road if you took either route of staying or moving on.
2. Don’t quit until your next move is finalized
When professionals resign, they either have another job lined up or they don’t. You may have received an offer for another position that you are excited about. You went through the interviewing process and you received the phone call with the offer.
You tell yourself, “Yes! I have a fresh new start on the way. I’m going to send in my two weeks tomorrow.”
Just hold on a minute if this is the case. Don’t resign then and there after your phone call. There is a lot that can happen between a verbal offer and the actual signing of an offer letter. There may be delays that come up or an adjustment to when they want you to start.
The last thing you would want to do would be to resign too early and have the offer fall through or resign too early and put yourself in a tight financial situation for the time being.
Don’t submit your resignation until you have signed your offer letter and have coordinated plans with your new company on your official start date.
3. Determine an appropriate time to submit your resignation
Try to get a feel on when an appropriate time to put in your two weeks would be and when you want your last day to occur.
You may hold essential responsibilities and be in crunch time period within the company. In order to leave the company on good terms, I would recommend that you try to time your resignation during a down and slow period on your team.
Resigning right in the middle of busy season would make you look bad and will piss your team off. You want to leave on a high note with minimal disruption to operations.
4. Keep the news to yourself
Moving on from your current position can be an exciting time. You may have “friends” within the company that you think you could trust with the news. DON’T! Even if they are trustworthy, you should keep the news to yourself.
Out of respect for your boss, he or she should be the first one to hear the news of your departure.
5. Anticipate potential reactions and how you will handle them
During the planning phase, think of potential reactions and how you intend to handle them. When I resigned from my first position, I thought I would receive the worst backlash from my boss and the rest of the team.
Surprisingly, the outcome was quite the opposite. They took the news well, congratulated me, asked about the new position and company, and gave me advice.
It is still wise to practice how you’ll respond to their reactions so you can handle it professionally and in the best manner possible.
6. Be prepared for counteroffers
When people break the news they are going to resign from their job, their boss may come back with a counteroffer. They may try to retain an employee with a raise, a promotion, or both.
Think about what it would take for you to stay with the company and think about what you’ll decide on if given a counteroffer.
2. Delivery of Resignation
Delivery. The main phase in the process. In here, we’ll discuss the steps you should take when delivering the news of your resignation.
7. Tell your boss in person
News like this should always be delivered in person. There is no avoiding this talk and breaking this news any other way won’t be professional on your part.
Conversations like these are tough, but they are necessary and you can’t avoid the friction you may think resigning causes.
Find a time where you can speak to your boss alone and deliver the news. Be decisive, confident, brief, and respectful. Don’t beat around the bush. Your boss will have more respect for you when you go about it in this manner.
8. Deliver a physical resignation letter
Along with your in-person delivery, you should have a physical resignation letter written and signed by you.
In your resignation letter, you can list that you are resigning from your current position, when you anticipate your last day would be, and also sprinkle in some kind words on working with the team and company.
9. Communicate your willingness to help with the transition
In your meeting and in your resignation letter, communicate to your boss that you are willing to help with whatever you can with your transition out of there.
Leaving your role can cause a ripple of disruptions on your team and in the company. The least you can do is help alleviate as much of that as possible by helping with the transition.
Here are some things you can do to help:
- Create a list of all your duties and responsibilities
- Create operating procedures on how to perform your job so the next person can come in and perform
- Help with posting the job opening on the company’s careers page
- Help facilitate and conduct interviews for the next candidate
Again, your boss and team will respect you as a professional for this and will thank you.
3. Notice Period
The “notice period” is the time between the announcement of your decision to resign and your final day in the office. Putting in your two weeks is not the end of the resignation process. There are pivotal steps you need to take during the notice period.
10. Plan how to tell colleagues and other leaders
Discuss with your boss if he or she would prefer you spread the news to the others in a particular way.
There may be a best way to go about it and it may not be a big deal. It is best practice to ask your boss just in case.
11. Tie up loose ends on big projects and tasks
Try to wrap up and complete what you can when it comes to the current projects and tasks you are working on.
For the things you cannot finish, make your boss aware and plan out what steps you should take. They may direct you to hand it off to another person on the team or they may direct you to leave if for the next candidate.
If the latter is the case, type up a document to brief the next candidate on what the project is, what you have done, and what they will need to do to complete the project.
12. Remove personal documents and history from work computers
Clean all your personal files and browsing history from your work computer before your last day. It’s not that you have things on there that you weren’t supposed to have, but this is just for your own personal privacy.
For your browsers, delete your history and also be sure to log out of accounts.
For example, your default browser may be Google Chrome, which is logged into your personal Google account. If you forget to log out, the next user of your work computer or the IT person taking care of your computer will be able to see everything on your Google account.
13. Schedule lunches and goodbyes
Never stop networking!
Between the announcement of your resignation and your final day, schedule lunches with those who were important to you in the company.
When you are young, you have a lot of career left and you never know what can come from the relationships you built.
Keep in touch, have a good time, and celebrate and reminisce on your career with that company.
14. Express gratitude for mentors
Going along with the tip above, express gratitude towards your mentors in the firm. Thank them for their time and contribution to your career through the opportunities and advice they gave.
This will show your professionalism and will make you someone memorable to them. Your mentors can also be people you lean on and look up to throughout your career and you want to be sure to nurture those connections.
15. Gather emails and contact info
Be sure to collect the emails and other relevant contact info from important people within the company. You may need their advice in the future and maybe even a job down the line.
Once you have moved on to your next position, you should keep in contact with those in your prior position.
Collecting contact info will help you reach out and set up meetings and lunches to catch up and talk.
16. Don’t badmouth the company, position, or employees
Let’s say your reason to resign was due to your hatred for your job, your team, or the company. No matter what the case is, don’t gossip or speak poorly of anyone or anything in the company.
This is highly unprofessional and what you say may spread and follow you!
If you came back to the company for any reason or if someone wound up at your next company, your words can come back to bite you.
Be a professional and take the higher road out.
17. Work 100% through the finish line
The notice period of the resignation process is comparable to senioritis in school.
You are in your final days of your position and you can nearly taste the freedom. You’ve lost all motivation to continue your work and you think it doesn’t really matter what you do for the remainder of your time.
Avoid the senioritis! Go all out and stay focused as you would have before your resignation. Work through the finish line and go out with a BANG in performance!
You’ll feel good leaving after giving it your all and your boss and team will remember that forever.
18. Write a goodbye email with personal contact info on where to reach you
Finally, send out a thoughtful farewell letter, addressed to everyone relevant to you at the company.
Thank them for the good times and each of their impacts on your time there.
Include your personal contact information, LinkedIn profile, and invite them to contact you for anything in the future.
Communicate you would still love to keep in touch with them and you are willing to meet with them for coffee, lunch, or leisure.
One thing to NEVER do
Alright, we’ve walked through all the steps.
Time for the thing you should NEVER EVER do when you resign from a job.
NEVER leave on bad terms with the company or any individual in the company.
Here are some examples of things people do to leave on bad terms:
- Quit with no two weeks notice
- Blow up on an individual or a team with their discontent
- Send a mass “F you” email to the company
- Disregard their work in the notice period
I get it.
You may hate your job.
You may hate your boss.
You may hate the company.
However, having an episode and leaving on bad terms is not the way you want to go out.
In this post, I have highlighted the importance of maintaining your professional image and nurturing the connections you have made in your time there.
You never know when word will travel or if you’ll encounter someone again in your career. Someone you went off on may become an executive at your next company in 10 years.
You never know and you don’t want to take that chance. You want to leave gracefully, having given it your all, with everyone there taking note of that. Don’t succumb to the short-term satisfaction of airing out all your pent up resentment.
Play the long-term game.
Resigning from a company is a big step in anyone’s career. It is a chance to start fresh and grow in a new position and company.
There is always friction with change and resigning is no different.
Think logically and rationally when deciding to move on from a company and do what you think is best for your career.
When transitioning out, implement these steps to help make things as smooth as possible, while maintaining professionalism, your reputation, and the connections you have made.
Play the long-term game and always reflect on how the actions you take will follow you through your career.