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Resigning How To's

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Resigning is not easy, and very few people are comfortable doing it. The good news is, there is a right and wrong way to resign from your job. Resigning poorly may put you in a negative situation with your current employer, and possibly result in a bad reference. On the other hand, following resignation etiquette will help ensure a better outcome - one that will make you feel much more comfortable. The keys is to be prepared, and be positive.

The Resignation Meeting (resigning verbally)

In advance, plan what you are going to say, and stick to it. Your boss may try to probe you for more information – details that you may not want to give at this stage. Don’t be defensive. If you want to keep the details private (and we suggest that you do), simply say: I’d rather not get into the details” or, “I’d prefer to keep that private”. Be calm and continue on, making it clear that you are submitting a verbal resignation.

Emphasize the positives; you never know when you might cross paths with your former employer, so don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your experience with the firm.

Expect a reaction. Unless your boss is expecting you to resign, your decision may come as a surprise. Your boss may get emotional or even confrontational. If this happens, stick to your prepared comments. In addition, your boss might give you a counter offer to stay. Studies show the same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will repeat themselves in the future, even if you accept a counter offer.

Remain composed. Because of your resignation, your boss may no longer see you as a team player, and may even feel betrayed. Once again, stick to your prepared comments, and try not to react combatively to your boss's accusations or negativity. Speak in measured tones, and regulate your breathing.

Always leave the meeting on a positive note, and be as cooperative as possible. Emphasize that you will do whatever you can to ease the transition and to wrap up any loose ends from unfinished projects.

People remember both first and last impressions.

The Written Resignation

A written letter of resignation has several advantages over a verbal resignation:

It will give you more preparation for a verbal conversation held later with the boss.

You have greater control of your message. Use this opportunity constructively.

In its simplest form, a resignation letter should only include the following information:

  • Name and date
  • Name of the addressee
  • Notice of termination of employment and effective date
  • Your signature

If you are leaving under good circumstances and feel that you want to say a bit more, then ensure that you emphasize the positive – perhaps thank the boss for the opportunities given to you. You never know when you might need your previous employer to serve as a reference.

If, however, you're leaving under strained or bad circumstances, resist the temptation to speak negatively about the company. Remember that your letter of resignation may come back to haunt you at a later date. Don’t get personal. Just because you are now leaving, a letter of resignation should not be used to tell your boss what you really think. It is never polite to include personal remarks in a resignation letter. If you genuinely feel that it is important to share your differences of opinion with your boss, save it for another time and place. Never commit these thoughts to paper – your comments will remain in your personnel file and may negatively impact you in the future.

Leave on a Positive Note

Make sure that you’ve given ample notice to the firm of your intention to leave. You should allow about two weeks for any transfer or reorganization of work to take place. Make sure that you’ve completed any outstanding tasks and participated in the smooth transference to a co-worker of any unfinished projects. Ensure that your boss knows that you’ve actively participated in this process and that you have been as cooperative as possible.