How to Resign

by Donna Lund

This can be a daunting prospect and one you receive no training or guidance from in your place of work, so how do you go about it? How do you resign?

It is important to consider how you will feel and how your manager will react when you bring up the subject of resignation.

Prepare for the conversation

How do you go about asking for a meeting and what will you say when you do sit down? Preparation is key.

It is important that you prepare yourself both professionally and emotionally, so that you can articulate your points well and are ready to answer questions from your manager about why you want to leave.

First of all have it clear in your mind why you considered changing companies in the first place – does your current role offer no career progression? Is your role different to how you expected? Is it money or location? Or something more personal? Perhaps your relationship with your manager/ colleagues is unworkable/ difficult or you are facing disciplinary action and want to leave before this is formalised?

Discuss your feelings with close friends or family or a professional you can trust. This will help you to reason ‘out loud’ and can make sure that you have considered all options before finalising your decision.

Most of all, listen to your own feelings as it’s your job, your career and your life and you are the one who ultimately will live with the consequences of your decision, positive or negative.

Having the conversation

Once you have decided that you are going to resign, find out if there are any company procedures you should follow. Does your contract specify your required notice period?

If you don’t have anything outlined formally in your contract, it is advisable that you prepare for your full notice period to allow for handovers and to give your employer some time to consider your replacement.

An official resignation letter is a minimum requirement for tending your resignation to your employer. You should write this considerately outlining briefly your intentions to leave, thanking them for the opportunity to work for the company and wishing them well. You want to leave on a good note, with your head held high and remembered for the right reasons. Regardless of your reasons for leaving, you should avoid burning bridges and upsetting people as you never know when you may encounter ex colleagues again.

It is best practice, and courteous, to speak to your manager in person first, before any colleagues, to outline your reasons for wanting to leave. Have these reasons clear in your head beforehand, and even make a few notes to take with you if this helps. Once you know what you want to say, stick to it. Be aware that your decision and the news may come as a surprise, and they may want to ask questions, so be prepared for this and how much information you are willing to share.

How will the conversation conclude?

Hopefully the conversation goes well and your manager may wish you luck for your next career move and then discuss with you the formalities of the resignation process – for example what your notice period is and your requirement to work this in order to complete the necessary handovers.

Your manager may not have foreseen your intentions to leave and may take it personally. Should they have been aware that you were unhappy? Are they unapproachable? Is it something they have done? Could the situation have been prevented? This reaction could be more emotional and you should be prepared to remain composed and react in a supportive way, diffusing any anger or frustration, alleviating blame and offering to help as much as you can during the handover period.

However there is also a possibility that your manager may try to make you stay. Consider your manager’s position – it will be time consuming and a hassle to find a replacement, if they even have the budget to replace you. If there is a recruitment freeze your colleagues may be required to pick up your workload and responsibilities in your absence and this will be a difficult discussion for your manager to have with them.

So if they do try to make you stay, be prepared for this conversation. If you are adamant that you want to leave, stand your ground and remember the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place.

If, however, your conversation has resolved some issues or opened up opportunities and you would consider staying, be authoritative and give your employer a deadline of when you would need their counter-offer by.

Counter offers typically involve a salary increase, promotion, extra responsibilities, change of team/ manager or moving to a new office or location.

You should consider these scenarios carefully, do any or all of these change the way you feel about working for the company or would there still be underlying factors that affect your job satisfaction?

Although complimentary, why have they only offered these enhancements when you said you wanted to leave? Will be loyalty to the company be questioned in future and what will the impact of this be? How will your colleagues react to you if they know you have been given an enhanced package when you threatened to leave?

Read more about counter offers

Breaking the news to your colleagues

Discuss with your manager how you should approach telling your colleagues. They may want to wait until everything is confirmed with HR and you have a final leaving date before you can tell anyone in the office. There may also be some sensitivity around clients, contracts or projects you are working on and therefore careful consideration may be needed around timing your announcement to reduce any potential impact.

Respect the reasons behind any delays in announcing your departure and honour their wishes. Remember that realistically your news won’t stay secret forever and it’s better to be delivered by you/ your manager than via office gossip, so agreeing on when you can do this will be is crucial.

Telling your colleagues is your chance to state the reasons behind your departure before it becomes office gossip. Keep your reasons consistent with what you discussed with your manager and remain positive. You do not want to create any ill feeling or make your colleagues feel unsettled in their jobs. You may meet up with your colleagues in future and it is in your interests that you are remembered favourably.

Administrative tasks

Once your departure date has been agreed it is advisable to work out what you may be entitled to before you leave.

For example, work out your holiday entitlement and how much of it you have used; do you owe any hours or do you have remaining holiday allowance to take? Negotiate whether this entitlement can be taken in days/hours off or if it can be paid. Discuss any entitlement to bonus/ commission or other benefits you receive as part of your overall compensation.

If you receive a company pension, find out what will happen when you leave. Do you need to transfer the fund elsewhere or will the company hold the investment for you? Make sure that in the latter case that the company has your up to date contact details and you retain documents relating to your pension plan.

Your HR department should be able to gather this information for you so make sure you request it as soon as possible so that any discrepancies can be resolved prior to you leaving.

Finally, good luck! If you are sure you have made the right decision then go for it, be confident and look forwards to the next step in your career.

If you would like more advice contact the consultant you have been working with, they will be happy to offer help to guide you through the process.

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