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How to Handle Your Resignation

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Changing jobs is a big decision and resigning can be a scary process, particularly if you’ve worked for the same organisation for many years.

In the past 6-12 months I’ve found myself having more and more “how to resign” conversations with my candidates. An increasing number are receiving counter offers, and many are long-term employees choosing new opportunities that are taking them well outside their experience and comfort zone, making the resignation process quite daunting. In any situation, handling a resignation the ‘right’ way is important, as it helps you maintain your professional reputation and contacts and leave the door open for future possibilities.

If you’re genuinely looking for your next career move, you’re likely to have had multiple interviews, completed a variety of technical and competency tests, undergone reference and background checks, had long conversations with your friends and family about the opportunity’s potential, and made your decision that this is the right move for you. This can be a long and emotionally draining process, and the last thing you need is a manager that makes you re-think your decision by using money, promotions, or training and development to change your mind.

Before you resign, be clear with yourself on why you are leaving your role and the benefits the new opportunity will bring. Have a plan of action ready should a counter offer arise, and ensure that you’re across your entitlements and required notice period before your resignation meeting. This will help your meeting to go smoothly and will assist you in handling any questions or objections that come your way.

Tips for handling your resignation

  1. Prepare a resignation letter for your manager and have it printed and signed before your resignation meeting. When preparing your letter, keep it straightforward and relatively brief, i.e. “I tender my resignation on the 5th October, 2016 and my final date of employment will be…”.
  2. Book a meeting with your manager. This can be challenging in some business environments, but if you have a weekly face-to-face meeting with your manager or supervisor, this is probably the best time.
  3. Research your entitlements and notice period prior to the meeting. If you’re happy to stay longer and assist with handover, decide your availability and provide an end date.
  4. In your meeting, be succinct and clear with your message, i.e. “I have some news.  I am resigning as I’ve decided to take a new role. I have already accepted my new role and my decision is final. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you over the past X years”. Remember that your exit interview is the most appropriate place to give candid and constructive feedback.
  5. Dealing with nerves can be the toughest part. Few people actually enjoy feeling like they’ve let someone down, and if you’ve worked for the same manager or organisation for a long time, this can be particularly hard. Rehearsing what you’ll say to your manager can help, and this has assisted many of my high calibre and experienced candidates who have found the idea of resigning confronting.
  6. Have a “go to” person; someone that you can call straight after your meeting to let them know that you’ve resigned. Their support can help you handle the situation more calmly and the call gives them a chance to congratulate you.
  7. During your handover period, stay positive about your current organisation whilst you look forward to your exciting new opportunity!

See our additional tips for resigning the right way.