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The Right Way to Resign from Your Job, to remain on Good Terms with the Company

The Bureau of Labour Statistics says that an average person will work 12 job positions in his lifetime. This means that at some point in your life, you will need to quit your job. Whether this decision is inspired by relocation, sudden health complications, a desire to switch career paths, or a transition to a better job opportunity, make sure to end things with your previous employer on a good note. Leaving the company but still being on good terms with your past employer and coworkers ensures that your employer can leave a good recommendation for you if the need arises in the future. In this article, we would be showing you the right way to resign from your job, so that you remain on good terms with the company.

PS: Resigning from a job is a big decision, take some time to think about it carefully before you start the resignation journey. When you decide to leave, ensure that it is only for the right reasons. If you want to leave because you feel stressed, overworked and underpaid, or tired of the work attitude exhibited by your boss or co-workers, talking to your manager might help fix that.

What counts as a Good Reason to Resign?

  • You are switching career paths.
  • You would like to further your education.
  • A pressing issue has risen in your family that will take some time to attend to.
  • You are relocating to a different state, country, or continent for residence.
  • A family member (or you) has developed sudden health complications and needs urgent care.
  • You have been offered a better job opportunity.

It is a good enough reason to resign from your job if you feel like the work environment is becoming too toxic for you. However, it doesn’t count as a good reason to include in your resignation letter because your boss may feel offended, and it would put a strain on the relationship between you and your coworkers after you leave. Other things you should not state as the reason why you want to resign (even if they truly are) include:

  • You had a fallout with the boss and have decided to leave before he fires you, to “protect your dignity”.
  • The job has become uninteresting and now feels like a chore instead.
  • You dislike the job and only settled for it because it paid your bills.
  • The boss refused your request for a pay raise.
  • Your coworkers are obnoxious and annoying.
  • Your superior is overbearing and toxic.
  • People advised you to quit.

Steps to follow to resign from your job gracefully and stay on good terms with everyone include:

1. State a Valid Reason

When you write your resignation letter or meet with your boss to resign in person, state a valid reason. If you state that you are leaving because you found a better job elsewhere, your boss will want to know what motivated you to search for another job. When answering such a question, be diplomatic, don’t apportion blames or place accusations. Doing so will help you maintain a good reputation with the company after you leave. When stating your reasons for leaving, ensure that you stick to the same story, regardless of who asks – friends, colleagues, clients, or your new employer. Word gets around and if your story is found to be conflicting from different sources, it could tarnish your reputation.

2. Write a formal resignation letter or send it as an e-mail to your boss.

Everything you do in the workplace should follow due protocol, including resignations. Read through the company’s handbook to see if there are any guidelines regarding the resignation process and follow them accordingly. Whatever the guidelines are, a written formal letter will be one of the requirements. Your formal resignation letter should contain:

  • A short sentence expressing your intentions.
  • A brief explanation of your reason for leaving the company.
  • The date you plan to officially leave.
  • A sentence or two expressing gratitude for all you have achieved in your time with the company.

3. Maintain Positivity

When you make your intentions to resign known, the reaction you get will differ from person to person. You may be asked to leave immediately or be presented with a better offer aimed at convincing you to stay by your manager.

If you are directed to leave without a proper farewell, take it in good faith and leave without causing a scene. If you are presented with a counter offer to make you withdraw your declaration, request some time to think it through, but do not take back your resignation letter yet. However, if you were treated badly in that workplace, it will be in your best interest to maintain your resolve.

Your colleagues will also give their own reactions. Some of them may sympathize with you, some others may congratulate you. The mischievous ones, however, may try to rope you into badmouthing your boss or workplace – don’t take the bait. Maintain a positive response to everything and everyone till you leave. The period after you make your intentions known is a crucial one, as whatever you do in that time is what you will be remembered for regardless of all the good deeds you may have done in your time with the company.

4. Tender your resignation letter in person

It is always better to resign in person rather than over a phone call. If you send an e-mail, you should also request a physical meeting. Where a physical meeting is not possible (in the case where you work remote), schedule a video call.

5. Notify your employer ahead of time.

Although depending on the reason for your resignation, you may want to leave as soon as possible, it is best to make your intentions known weeks ahead of time. The regular timeframe for a resignation notice is two weeks. However, if you can, you may offer to stay until they find a replacement. This will make you memorable to your employer, and may even convince him to review your employment offer. If you were leaving because you felt overworked and underpaid, this is great news.

However, if you cannot give a 2 weeks notice because of a personal emergency or a sudden health complication, apologize for the short notice and offer to be helpful in any way you can within the time you can give.

6. Communicate your move personally with your team members.

When planning to resign from your job, you should let your manager know of your intentions first, and notify your team members next. If you have a strong bond with your teammates, you may want to share your intentions to resign over dinner, or after a fun hangout, to lessen the impact of the news. You may go further to send an e-mail to everyone else before you leave.

The two weeks after you tender your resignation letter is a great time to go about networking. Reach out to your superiors and coworkers who you would like to stay in touch with, and request their contact details. You are also allowed to strike up conversations with the company’s clients who you would like to stay in touch with and exchange contact information.

7. Offer to help with the onboarding of your replacement if necessary.

While some companies have a special team or an agency entrusted with the responsibility of onboarding recruits, some do not. If your company does not have such a system in place and you have the time, offer to help out with the process. You can also recommend someone qualified for the role, to spare them the trouble of running a new recruitment process after you resign from your job.

8. Request a letter of recommendation from your boss.

If you have had a clean record till the date of your resignation, you may request a recommendation letter from your boss. Chances are, if you follow the guidelines provided in this article, he will not refuse.

9. Clean out your workspace.

After you have tendered your resignation letter, it is time to clear out your office space. If you have a work computer, save your files and delete any private information you have stored on the PC. Other personal belongings you had around like your mug, calendar, work journal, and so on, should go into a box awaiting the day you finally leave. While clearing out your space, ensure that you do not tamper with anything supposed to exclusively belong to the company.

Pro Tips:

  • Talk to family and close friends before you make the decision. Resigning from a job is a big decision, one that you wouldn’t want to regret.
  • Apply to other jobs before tendering your resignation letter. It is best to have a job offer waiting before you resign from your current one.
  • Avoid participating in office gossip especially for the two weeks following your resignation declaration.
  • Maintain normal work productivity even after you have tendered your resignation letter. You shouldn’t slack and let work pile up because you are “leaving anyway”. When you do so, you tarnish your reputation and ruin your chances of ever getting a recommendation or a good referral from your potential ex-employer.
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