How to resign from your job without burning bridges

Brooke Cashman

Blog: How to resign without burning bridges

Resigning from your job can be daunting, but nearly all of us must do it at some point in our career so we’ve come up with some easy-to-follow steps to help you quit while keeping things positive!

Making sure you resign on good terms is important, especially if you work in a small industry, to make sure you don’t tarnish your reputation (people talk!), and so that you can count on your manager for the all-important references you might need for your future job searches.

First things first, are you sure? Or are you being impulsive?

If this is a carefully considered decision, then go straight to number 1.

However, if you aren’t sure about quitting, take a step back and think. If you are generally happy in your role, but there are just one or two things that are bothering you, have you taken steps to see if these can be remedied? If you think you deserve a pay rise, have you asked? If you feel like you are not progressing, have you voiced this to your manager and made it clear you would like more responsibility? So do consider if you would like to explore potential options in your current role first.

1. Tell your manager in person that you’re resigning

Set up a face-to-face or Zoom meeting with your manager or your HR representative so you have a quiet and private place for your conversation.

Most people who experience anxiety about resigning are apprehensive about letting people down and the confrontational element. Preparation is key here so practice beforehand what you’re going to say – do you already have another job lined up or why are you leaving? Try to pre-empt any caveats.

If you have another offer, is it possible that your current company will counter offer you? If so, what will you do?

It’s always nice to share something positive about your time there if you enjoyed working at the business. If you don’t have any good things to share, then this isn’t the time to complain or say negative things – keep this meeting professional.

Make sure to check your contract for your notice period before this so you are aware of when your last day will be, especially if you’ve accepted another role.

2. Write an official resignation letter

You should have already prepared a formal resignation letter to hand to your manager either at the end of your meeting, or shortly after. This is an official document, ask them if they’re ok with a soft copy emailed to them, or if they require you to print a copy and sign it for them to keep on file.

What should you include in your formal resignation letter?
1. Your intention to resign from your role
2. Key dates – the start and finish dates of your notice period, clearly stating when your last day will be
3. Why you are leaving (not compulsory but nice to share if you want to)
4. A few words of appreciation for the role, include some positives if you did enjoy your time there
5. A thank you to your manager – again only if you really mean it!
6. Add the date, your name and your signature

Now is still not the time to air your grievousness with the role if you have any – keep your resignation letter short, to the point, add a personal note if appropriate, and leave your more detailed feedback for your exit interview.

3. Prepare for your exit interview

Remember this is your time to be honest, but you also need to think about what could negatively impact your reputation that isn’t helpful to share – will your feedback mean any positive changes to the business, your colleagues or for the next person in your role?

Whilst it’s important to let the company know of any issues that they may not be aware of, try to keep feedback constructive. What you liked, what you didn’t like and any areas you think they could improve on in the business for a happier employee experience. Of course, it’s good to give honest feedback, but try to keep it diplomatic.

4. If you’re working out your notice period... don’t slack off!

This is probably where a lot of people can easily burn their bridges, they resign and then either slow down or completely stop working despite their agreement to work their notice period. If you’re expected to work up until the last day, then that is exactly what you should be doing!

If you have a handover with a colleague or a new hire, make sure you put in the time and effort needed to explain all your responsibilities and aspects of your role, how to use any systems and where to go if they have questions after you’ve left. Setting them up for success will reflect your character and can only help in the long term.

5. Time to say goodbye to your colleagues

It’s nice to say goodbye properly, whether that be by email, phone call, or a farewell get together.

We spend so much time with colleagues and often build strong relationships, you never know when that could help in your career. Especially if you’re in a small industry where for a lot of people future work could come from the relationships they have formed at previous jobs.

6. Ask for recommendations

Don’t forget to reach out to your managers, colleagues, and clients/suppliers (if appropriate) for recommendations as soon as you finish up your role when it’s still fresh in their minds. An easy way to do this is to use the LinkedIn recommendations feature.

And that’s how you leave a job on good terms!

Resigning from a role can be daunting but going into it prepared with a thought-out plan, a professional letter of resignation, and a positive attitude can ensure it’s a smooth transition for everyone involved.

If you've resigned from your role but still looking for a new job, we have some helpful advice for you on How to write a resume that stands out and also reccomend you check out our Top 5 tips for nailing your next video job interview.

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