What's the right way to resign? Follow our step-by-step guide..

Morgan McKinley 07.07.2018

Resigning from a current employer can be the toughest part of the process when starting a new role, here are some pointers to help you with both your resignation letter and ensure your notice process runs as smoothly as possible in order to keep your professional reputation intact.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have secured a new job. Now for the last piece of the jigsaw that nobody likes, resigning from your current position. 

This can be a nerve-wracking task for anyone, whether you have been in the company six months or six years. Hopefully you have built up a good reputation over your time in your current position and it is key not to undo this hard work as you move to the next stage of your career.

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The transition from resigning right through to completing your notice period are extremely important to keep your professional reputation intact, so here are some pointers that can help this process run as smoothly as possible:

Your line manager comes first

Your line manager is usually the person who has mentored you and can easily be one of the main contributors in securing your new position. For this very reason they should be the person you speak to first, before your colleagues and certainly before HR. They deserve this respect, and it is feasible that this same person could be your line manager or colleague at some point in the future.

When should I resign?

Before resigning, wait until you have received your new job offer in writing or by email. Only ever resign once your official contract has been signed. Hand your notice in as soon as you can once your new position is confirmed. The more notice you can give your current employer the better as this gives them time to find a replacement. If possible, try to resign on Friday afternoon directly to your line manager and in a private meeting room if possible. Some bosses may take the news well and wish you success whilst others may be shocked and disappointed - be prepared for both reactions.Understand the company policies on resignation and check in your current contract that you have no different clauses entered. If your new start date is in 6 weeks but your current notice period is 4 weeks, wait until 4 weeks as per your contract, even though the urge will be to tell everyone right away. You may have a gardening leave period if you are moving to a direct competitor, be aware of this as you may need to leave the premises almost immediately due to conflict of interests.

What should I say?

Plan what you want to say the night before and stick to the main points in the meeting. Do not give into the urge to tell your line manager any ill feeling you have towards them or the company, thank them for their contribution to your career to date and be generally positive towards the organisation. You should at this point make it clear that you will not accept any counter offer and would prefer not to discuss the possibility of an offer. Be polite but firm as to your desire to move on and resist saying anything negative about your current role. 

Your resignation letter

You must submit a letter of resignation at this point to make the process official. A letter of resignation does not have to entail any information about your new role, rather it is to confirm you will leave your current position. Follow this link to view two sample resignation letters that will help to ease the stress of writing such a letter. Keep it short and positive and thank your employer for the opportunities they have given you. 

The meeting should conclude by you offering to make the transition as easy as possible with little disruption. You may have been in your position a long time and built up responsibilities that may not necessarily be on a job description if HR were to write one for your new replacement. Offer to be part of the plan in making sure the department runs as smoothly as possible after you leave. If you achieve this, it will be firmly in the memories of your line manager and the company as a whole.

Notice period

If your notice period is one week or four weeks, perform your role to the best of your abilities, and if you have committed to anything in the transition period, be sure to carry out this promise. These last few weeks in your current position will have a lasting effect on how you are perceived in the organisation. It is up to you to form this perception, make it a good one. Agree a leaving date and try and give your employer as much notice as possible. This gives the company time to organise a replacement to cover your workload. Stress that you will be thoroughly professional during your notice period and cooperate with any handover. Help train in your replacement if possible, if this is not possible, leave a clear handover document detailing as much information as you can to make it easy for the new person to get up to speed with your duties. Continue to put 100% into your job and do it to the best of your ability. Refrain from telling your colleagues about your new role until you have spoken with your boss. Avoid the temptation to gloat about your new job to colleagues and only speak positively about your current employer. Following the above in your process will show that you are a person of integrity and are committed to whatever position you find yourself in.  

Last but not least, when you begin your new job do not engage in negative conversation about your prior position. You want to show your employer that they made a sound investment in employing a professional candidate.

 

Handling a counter offer:

In many instances, an employer will make a counter offer. You need to have thought through what you would do in this instance before handing in your notice. Ask yourself the following questions: What is the best decision for your career?  Has anything changed?  Will more money or the promise of a promotion really change things? Will it just be a quick fix? Why did it take you resigning before they offered you a pay rise or promotion? How will your relationship be with your boss if you stay when they know you were willing to leave before? Will you be looking for a new opportunity again in six months? It is flattering to get a counter offer, if you find yourself in this situation; Try and take the emotion out of the situation and think objectively. Don't engage in a conversation around a counter offer if you've no intentions of staying. 

 

The aftermath:

If you have a non-compete clause in your contract then honour this. Say a proper goodbye to your colleagues and keep in touch with those you get on with. Keep doors open as the world is a small place and you never know when your paths might cross again.

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