How to Resign on Good Terms

Did you just land a new job that provides a larger income and will expand your career growth? That’s great! Do you now have to tell your current boss that you’re leaving? That’s less fun. This conversation, no matter how well you get along with your supervisor, feels inherently awkward, but it’s an important process. And as with all office matters, there’s a right way and a substantially less positive way to conduct yourself before, during, and after you resign. Below we cover some ways you can navigate exiting a company as you keep in mind the ultimate goal: leave gracefully on a good note.

Before You Resign

Regardless of how you feel about your job—whether it was a valuable professional experience or an anxiety-inducing nightmare—act with the utmost decency. Don’t start slacking on your work or being rude. This negatively impacts your team and will influence how the company feels about your departure.

There are a few administrative things you can get in order before talking with your boss.

First, know the date of your last day. Typically, people provide notice two weeks out. Barring unforeseen circumstances, try to follow this standard practice.

Second, write a resignation letter. Even though you’re preparing for a conversation, the letter is a formal sign of your leaving. Don’t use this as the place where you air your grievances. Quite the contrary, a resignation letter is short, polite, and thankful. It simply announces that you’re leaving and articles your gratitude for experiences afforded to you by the job.

Third, clean up your computer and workspace or office. Some companies will ask resigning employees to leave day-of. This depends on your company policy.

Now you’re ready for the conversation. Be sure your boss is the first person you tell, even before your closest office friends. You don’t want management finding out through the grapevine. You can schedule a check-in with your boss or tell them during a time you already meet. Prepare yourself for the possibility of a counteroffer. Would you stay if your current company offered a salary match and additional benefits? Some companies utilize this strategy to retain employees, but again this is circumstantial.

During Your Resignation Period

Once you mention your new opportunity, be sure to thank your boss for everything (even if you can’t wait to leave) and any guidance they provided. Be sure to communicate your decision in a positive light—you enjoyed your time at the company, but a new opportunity presented itself allowing for you to grow your skills. If appropriate, you can offer to help train the person who will take over your role or put together training materials the new person can review after you’ve left.

After speaking with your boss, there’s a handful of pertinent information you’ll want from HR, including the last day of your insurance coverage, possibly collecting unused sick days and vacation days, rolling over your 401k, and more. Policies vary on this company to company.

Eventually everyone on your team will know that you’ve resigned. At this point, remember to keep it professional—don’t be negative and don’t stop working. Also, be mindful of your attitude. Don’t start bragging to your team about your new job or say you can’t wait to leave and stop doing certain tasks. Some team members may congratulate you and others may distance themselves. Regardless of how anyone else reacts, maintain your courtesy.

After Your Resignation Period

When your resignation period (the two weeks of notice) ends, make sure to say goodbye to those you worked with and ask if you can use them as a reference. Part of why you want to leave on a good note is you might need to contact your former co-workers and boss for a reference down the road as your career grows. So, even after you’ve left the company, keep any negative opinions about your time there off of social networking sites as former co-workers may see it.

You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for assistance with job preparation, including resume building, cover letter writing, and interview techniques. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page.

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