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How to resign gracefully

Monday, July 4th, 2011 | Latest News | Leave a response


People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons, and if you’re unhappy it’s tempting to make a grand exit, belting out that classic country and western hit ‘Take this job and shove it….’ as you go. But believe us when we say there are better, more graceful ways to resign.

Make sure you really do want to resign. Don’t use it as a tool to try and get yourself a pay rise or promotion, or because you’re in a huff at someone else taking the credit for your successful creative campaign yet again. It will rebound on you and you might win the battle but you won’t win the war.

Plan ahead. This will avoid that uncomfortable ‘counter offer’ scenario, where your boss tries to work out what manner of goodies they can lay at your door to tempt you to stay. If you’ve decided to move on it’s for valid reasons and whatever your boss offers you, those reasons will still stand. Thank your employer for the opportunities and experience they have given you, while stating your commitment to your new employer. Remember that a high proportion of people still leave a company within a year of accepting a counter offer.

Face up. This is no time for hiding behind email. You should still hand in a letter of resignation to confirm that you are leaving, but if possible tell your boss face to face first too. It’s the polite thing to do.

Be honest. Or as honest as you can be without burning bridges. This is a time for diplomacy, not settling old scores.

If your boss is likely to take the news badly, focus on the positives of your move such as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity or your new company specialises in digital media and that’s where you see your career going. Avoid highlighting the shortcomings of your current workplace and/or its management.

If you’re offered a confidential exit interview, that’s the time you can consider being a bit more open about the reasons for your move. Your views could help the company address issues such as leadership style or company culture, but there is no obligation on you to speak frankly. Remind yourself that whatever you say will be attached to your name forever.

Happy handover. Tell your boss how you propose to wind up your work projects and hand over crucial information, stressing that you will be as helpful as possible.

Although you will be full of bounce at the thought of your great new job, try not to gloat. Equally, wearing a face that says ‘Hey I’m leaving, do I look bovvered?’ will not cut it.

The small print. Check your contract so you know what your notice period is and whether you are owed any outstanding holiday pay, expenses or bonuses. If you’re in a sales role or it’s the sort of organisation likely to ask you to leave immediately, put your affairs in order in advance by tidying up your work area and computer, noting down any passwords and deleting personal information. And don’t fill your pockets with stationery as you leave, it’s not cool.

Don’t slack. On the run up to freedom day make sure you stay fully engaged with the company. You’re being paid as usual so it should be business as usual – stay focused and productive.

Resigning is never an easy task, whatever the circumstances.

But if you treat your resignation like a job interview in reverse and plan accordingly, you will part on good terms. And – in an industry sector noted for being a close-knit community – with a shiny reference and the door held firmly open for the future.

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