How to quit your job without burning any bridges

New job? Excited to join your new company?  Dreading handing in your notice?  Handing in your resignation is never an easy conversation to have, so the more prepared you are the better.  Here are our top 10 tips to resigning professionally:

#1 Do not go into your resignation meeting without having fully made up your mind

If your manager sees that you haven’t made a full decision … they will try to influence you and the conversation will be long and drawn out, which is not good for either party.  Also, don’t use your resignation as a bargaining tool to get a promotion or a pay rise. Resigning is a big step into the unknown and should only be taken when you are wanting to move onto pastures new.

#2 Write your resignation letter and take it into the meeting where you plan to hand your notice in with your manager

Having a formal resignation letter with you in the meeting will help focus you and be a focal point to talk about with your manager, if you forget what you wanted to say in the heat of the moment.

#3 Keep the resignation letter polite and short, explaining that you’ve found a new opportunity that is right for you and your career

Your resignation letter should acknowledge what you have decided to do, your rationale for leaving, and what you have enjoyed about working for the organisation.  It should also thank your manager for their investment and time.

#4 Try to be as accommodating as possible and reach an agreement on timing that reflects both parties’ needs

Leaving your current position will of course cause ripples throughout the company. The more accommodating you can be about the best time to leave, for both parties’ needs, the better.

#5 Avoid resigning on a Monday morning or just before a key meeting

Although you may be desperate to get the conversation over and done with, having made the decision at the weekend, remember that your resignation might come as a shock to your manager. Make sure you have a dedicated time for the conversation that is not first thing on a Monday morning or just before a key meeting. Timing is everything!

#6 Be prepared for the question: why are you leaving?

Inevitably you’ll be asked the reason why you’re leaving – but this isn’t your cue to dish out home truths or launch into a negative appraisal of the company. If you’re asked why you’re leaving, emphasise what it is you’re going to, rather than what you’re leaving behind – what we call the ‘towards’ motivations as opposed to the ‘away-from’ motivations!

#7 Come to the meeting with a clear plan for how you will hand over your existing activities

No-one knows your job better than you do – or the consequences of you not being there.  So make sure you take time to think about what plans need to be in place for the key priorities. What short term measures could happen until your position is filled?  Most managers will be grateful for your foresight and they will remember it.

#8 Stay professional to the end

Ultimately, it is important to make your manager’s final impression of you a good one. Do the best job you can do under the circumstances, and don’t slack just because you’re leaving.  You never know when you will need a reference, or when your paths will cross again. It’s a much smaller world than you think!  Also make sure your manager is the first person you tell that you are leaving.

#9 Consider carefully any counter offer made to you

You might be presented with a counter offer; a pay rise, a promotion or the new opportunities you had been asking for. If you have already accepted an offer elsewhere, reneging on that offer is unprofessional and should only be done in very exceptional circumstances.  Many people who do take a counteroffer are often on the job market within the next 6 to 12 months. Maybe this is because they always had the unanswered question of ‘If they think I’m worth that now, why weren’t they paying me that earlier?’

 #10 Save criticisms and other feedback for your exit interview

Some companies will offer you an exit interview, which will likely be handled by a trained HR specialist.  This is the time for your honest feedback and criticism – and may help others who choose to work at the company after you have left.  Do not get personal with this; keep it as factual as possible, leaving out the emotions that you may have felt over the years. For example, stating ‘this process really unmotivated me and upset me’ from a centred place will have more impact than if you are explosive and emotional within the exit interview.