How do you properly resign from your job? While some circumstances may cause us to leave our jobs on a sour note, it’s mostly a good idea to exit gracefully and keep things professional as much as possible. Here’s what you can do to remain on good terms with your employer and colleagues when you decide to quit.
1. Meet With Your Boss One-on-One
As a basic courtesy, avoid having the office grapevine or social media know about your plans before your boss. Create a timeline for your resignation, making sure to give your direct supervisor enough time to prepare for your exit.
If you’re working remotely, then set an online meeting. If, for any reason, you don’t feel comfortable telling your boss, then you can ask for help from your HR. Here’s what to discuss with your boss during your meeting:
- State your reasons for resigning. Stay professional and keep your negative emotions under wraps.
- Create a transition plan with your boss.
- Decide how to tell your team about your resignation.
- Thank your boss. Yes, even if you didn’t agree with every decision they made.
2. Submit a Formal Resignation Letter
After you’ve met with your direct supervisor, it’s time to write a good resignation letter. You can get ideas by downloading a free resignation letter template from a site like eForms. The site gives unlimited access to their documents on a free 7-day trial. Just make sure to check the following before sending your letter:
- Keep it short and professional. Avoid lengthy, emotional letters.
- Explain why you’re leaving and indicate the date of your last day of work.
- Set a positive tone by being appreciative.
- Mention your willingness to make your exit as smooth as possible for the company.
3. Honor the Length of Notice in Your Contract
Legally, you might not be required to serve a notice period if you don’t have a contract. According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, some US states may have an at-will employment arrangement, meaning you can quit (or an employer may terminate you) at any time without an employment agreement.
If it’s expressed or implied to give a notice period in your employment agreement, then serve your notice period. However, even if you don’t have an agreement, it’s still wise to give your employer some time if you want to maintain a good relationship with them. Consider these factors when deciding the length of your notice period:
- You have a pending project that could take some time to finish.
- You have tasks that will be hard to complete in only a short period.
- Your company takes a long time to hire replacements.
- Your teammates working on the same project have vacation leaves planned.
4. Properly Hand Over Your Tasks
Feeling a little guilty about not finishing a project assigned to you is normal. But you have to be realistic. For instance, you can’t complete a one-year project if you leave in a month. The best way to make a graceful exit and help your team is to finish what you can and delegate.
Some tips for completing a professional handover: create a to-do list or Excel file of pending tasks and responsibilities, and include a clear timeline of what still needs to be done.
5. Assist With Training Your Replacement
Assisting with training a replacement is going the extra mile, but you can do this if you include it in your resignation timeline. You don’t need to handhold your next-in-line or be physically present.
Instead, you can create project management boards on an online tool like Trello and share them using the collaboration features. You can set a video call meeting with your replacement in case they need clarification on the job role and tasks.
6. Return Work Equipment
Don’t forget to return your work phone, laptop, and other work equipment in good condition if you don’t want to be fined or accused of theft! For starters, there are several things you should do before returning your work PC.
Make sure to download/transfer any essential documents (such as projects you want to include in your portfolio), save the email addresses of work contacts, and clear any personal data from the gadgets you use.
7. Complete the Exit Process
The exit process doesn’t end with your resignation letter. In some jobs, you must get your clearance signed and attend an exit interview. Make sure to complete your clearance, as this might be a requirement for you to get your last pay.
Your exit interview, which might be conducted by someone from the HR or leadership team, may also be your chance to give your employer unbiased and professional feedback.
8. Ask About Your Last Pay and Benefits
To avoid misunderstandings with your company, review your contract and ask your human resources team about the compensation and benefits you’re still entitled to get.
The US Department of Labor site mentions that qualified individuals can opt to continue their group health plan for a limited period under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). You might want to keep this fact under your radar when you resign.
9. Inform Your Colleagues
This step depends on your communication plan with your boss. Some supervisors or managers might have a personal preference for letting others know about a resignation. For instance, they might organize a send-off lunch or send a company email.
You might send a private sign-off message via email or work chat if you have a good relationship with teammates or a more open company culture. Just make sure to present yourself professionally and show appreciation.
Venting has its uses—it helps us release pent-up anger and stress. However, there are things you should never share on social media. Complaining publicly about your job, boss, or peers can set you up for regret and embarrassment later on. It might even give you a bad reputation with other employers.
There are healthy channels where you can safely air your grievances. You can leave an anonymous (but fair) review on Glassdoor or Indeed to help others know about company practices. You can also talk to a trusted friend or use stress-busting apps to rant to strangers online or vent into the void. Abusive company practices are different; you might have to seek legal measures.
Say Goodbye to Your Job Without Regrets
It’s better to close the door gently rather than slam it in everyone’s faces if you want to minimize regret when quitting your job. You’ll save yourself and your company a lot of stress. You never know; your boss or colleagues might open doors of opportunity and give you a good referral.
While you’re sure you want to quit your job now, your career trajectory might change. You might realize that you want to return to your former role or company. Even if you don’t, you’ll never know when you’ll re-encounter your colleagues. So, go over this list, apply what you can, and you’ll be able to start your next job without any hangups.