12 Steps to Doing Your Resignation Right

So, congratulations you have searched for a new role, been selected, offered and have accepted. You’ve done the hard work, right? Well there’s still one big job to do … handing in your notice AKA resigning! While some people can’t wait to tell their current Boss where to stick his job, and we’ll come on to that approach later, many people if they’re honest find it a difficult appointment/process especially if inexperienced. I can remember I was dreading handing in my notice to bosses I respected in my corporate agency role in order to start Macstaff which is the realisation of a long-held ambition!

This blog is designed to give you a few pointers on making the process as painless as possible, to avoid common pitfalls and avoid ‘burning any bridges’.

#1: Accept feelings. The first thing is probably to accept that telling your boss you are leaving can be nerve wracking. People may tell you, what are you talking about, you hated the job anyway but that’s not really the point! You will likely have mixed feelings that include anxiety, guilt, uncertainty, and disloyalty, as well as hopefully also hope and excitement for your future role.

#2: Expect awkward. You can certainly hope and even expect a smooth conversation as you resign and plan notice/handover. However, it’s best to also mentally prepare for the eventuality that the response is negative and the appointment is difficult. Maybe they will be angry that you are leaving? Upset that you are leaving? Maybe they will plead with you to stay? Maybe you’ll be walked out there and then? (especially if in sales capacity).

#3: Reasons for leaving. Before you have ‘that chat’, remind yourself of all the reasons you are leaving e.g shorter commute, career progression, more money etc. This will validate the logic for the move and relative merits of your shiny new job. It will also prepare you to ‘be strong’ in the meeting … the chances are they are going to try and change your mind!

#4: Expect a counter offer. Yes, sure a counter offer can be flattering but is really standard practice driven but the cost/hassle/risk of being forced to replace you on a timeframe that doesn’t suit them. Counter offers are the subject of another blog but long story short, don’t be ‘bought off’ by the counter, as the underlying reasons why you’re leaving will still remain.

#5: Check contract. Before you let the cat out of the bag, double check your contractual notice period, typically covered in your initial contract of employment. Ensure that you are giving an appropriate period of notice, also that this ties in OK with any start date you have negotiated with your next employer. As a rule, the shorter the agreed notice the better, as it’s always a weird phase not worth extending; maybe you can use holiday accrual to shorten your regular notice period. PS in this phase you may be treated like an outcast but conversely, there may be on an awkward charm offensive throughout to try and get you to stay. (As they may have to do your work otherwise).

#6: F2F. Process and professionalism wise, I strongly suggest requesting a face-to-face meeting, ideally that day, with your line manager, if possible. This may not always be possible due to holiday or distance but is always best. A second choice will be a telephone call, where you have established you have their time and attention. The last resort is an email. Please NEVER text in your notice, this will be a lasting testimony of unprofessionalism. I have seen it though, it’s not good but not uncommon!

#7: Letter. Take your resignation letter in to the appointment. Your resignation is not official until you put it in writing and again it helps demonstrate that you have made your mind up. The letter could be hand written, although I would say typed is best, however it should be hand signed.

#8: KISS. Follow the Keep It Simple Stupid principals. i.e. keep your communication short and sweet and professional … even friendly. But also make it clear that it is a firm decision. Something along the lines of I’m resigning my position today as I’ve made a firm decision to accept an offer I couldn’t refuse.

#9: Don’t get ‘dragged in’. Make sure you are not ‘enticing’ a counter offer, which we will come back to, which makes the process protracted and rarely ends well. Likewise try not to get dragged in to detailing your reasons for leaving, which can be remembered negatively, make them defensive or again entice promises that things will change! (Who’s heard that before)?

#10: Handover. It’s professional to promise, (and deliver), a proper handover of duties including key clients, projects in process etc. This will again leave a positive impression of you but also prevent them from panicking which again may ‘entice’ them in to making a counter offer which can complicate things further.

#11: Professional notice. Your notice period may seem like an eternity and as I mentioned before can be a testing time. However, do try to remain professional at all times. You may be working with/for these people again. Even in a big industry it tends to be a small world and reputation will travel with you!

#12: Impact quitting. I don’t know if you are aware of the recent trend of creating a dramatic resignation for video which may go viral on social media. My favourites are where the employee comes in with a full brass band, their own march/dance and then tear open their shirt revealing “I Quit”!  So funny … tempting! But really, this is NOT for you & your career. Don’t do it!

So, bringing this blog ‘in to land’, resignation, counter offer, and notice period can bring some trials and tribulations. However, using common sense, keeping cool and following these few pointers should allow you to steer a safe course to the destination of your new job! I don’t envy you, but the resignation meeting is a necessary step in the process and a means to a worthwhile end!

Good luck, & let me know how you get along with your own resignations. Also let me know of your favourite “Impact Quitting” stories & experiences!

Lastly, if you are looking for first class representation as a client or candidate do give me and Macstaff a shout at coordinates below: