How to Properly Resign From Your Job

The number of U.S. workers quitting their jobs is at the highest rate in 16 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s good news for employees who are looking for quality jobs with better pay, benefits, and opportunities.

But even when the boss is a jerk and the company doesn’t care, employees should resign the right way. There’s no reason to burn a bridge with a soon-to-be former employer. Resigning isn’t necessarily as simple as walking into your boss’ office and saying, “I quit!”

Here are five things to consider when you’re resigning. And for some of these, you might want to think about how you would handle them long before you’re ready to turn in your resignation letter.

1. Give appropriate notice. There’s a reason that companies ask for notice. It’s to prepare for a smooth transition of work. The length of your notice is usually noted in the employee handbook. It might be 2-weeks, and is often longer for management positions. Oh, and while we’re on the topic, please note that your future employer shouldn’t ask you NOT to give proper notice. They wouldn’t want someone to do that to them so they shouldn’t ask it of others.

2. Write a resignation letter. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. It can be a simple few lines. A resignation letter makes things final – you’re really leaving and when. It’s also a good way for you to inform the company your current mailing address for any future correspondence like COBRA, W-2’s, 401(k), etc. There’s no obligation to put the reason you’re leaving in the letter. That can be done in-person or during an exit interview.

3. Don’t expect a counter offer or going away party. At the point you’ve given notice, you’ve told the company that you’re moving on. Expect the company to do the same. The company might be upset that you’re leaving, but don’t expect them to start playing a game of “counter offer”. Also, don’t expect them to throw you a party. Many organizations just don’t do these things as a matter of course. It’s not reflection of your contributions.

4. Prepare for an exit interview. Organizations conduct exit interviews to learn from employees about the employment experience. What was great about working there? Where are improvements needed? It shouldn’t be a surprise if the company asks you to complete an exit interview. Think about what you’re prepared to share. And if the exit interview is in-person, use it as an opportunity to ask questions about benefits after you leave, etc.

5. Be ready to help and leave. There’s a point during your notice period where the company is going to start thinking about your work (and what happens to it after you’re gone.) If the company hires your replacement, help them learn the job. You might be asked to train a co-worker on a few things. And if the company asks you to leave before your official last day, don’t take it personally. Some industries and jobs (especially in sales), consider the day you give notice as your last day.

Finding a new job is an exciting time. After you resign, you should spend your time wrapping up projects and getting ready to start on your new career.

Don’t put a damper on your new opportunity by creating tension with your soon-to-be former employer.

Even if they’re not a great company to work for. You never know, at some point, you might want to return to your old job.


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