Job resignations occur for a number of reasons: new opportunities, changes in life direction, work environments that are no longer rewarding, retirements, or a combination of these or other factors. But one fact is constant: you should resign with the same level of professionalism that you bring to the job. Susan M. Heathfield, a management consultant and human resources expert, says, “You can resign and keep doors open for future opportunities by building, not destroying, relationships with colleagues and customers.”
Consider the following when planning to resign or beginning the process of a resignation:
Understand your reasons and options if a resignation seems like the best move to make. Do you have a job offer in writing from your next employer? Can you survive a gap in employment if you do not have an offer, and will potential future employers view a gap negatively? Have you fully considered your reasons for resigning? Is your decision an emotional reaction or the product of mindful reflection and planning?
If resigning is the right course of action, prepare appropriately – including planning for the worst case scenario. Heathfield cautions:
“You never know how your employer will react when you resign from your job, although your employer’s past behavior when other employees have resigned may give you a reasonable expectation. You don’t know if you’ll be able to work out your two weeks’ notice or if you’ll find yourself standing in the parking lot, so organize your current projects, and clean up your business and personal work space, computer, and desk drawers before you resign.”
Provide notification directly and professionally. A boss or supervisor should not be the last to know or hear the news from coworkers. Show professionalism and respect by using both verbal notification and a formal resignation letter. Keep letters short and to the point. Do not air negative baggage; instead, focus on the positive experiences and opportunities the job provided. Be supportive of the transition that will occur due to your departure. Once supervisors and human resources are notified, you can notify coworkers, but retain a professional tone and avoid negative commentary that undermines the formal resignation letter.
Finally, follow through with the resignation process. Work with Human Resources to finalize benefits, required paperwork, or exit interviews. Explore options for letters or recommendation or professional references as needed. Return any company property assigned to you. Wrap up or provide documentation to coworkers for any remaining projects. But, most importantly, treat the final day on the job like the best day on the job – the last impression you give can be the most important for your future.