The Art of Resigning

Congratulations, you have landed the job of your dreams or maybe just a better role than what you have.  You cannot wait to resign but hold on.  It’s important to think through the process.

What do you need to do to get ready to join the new employer?  Are references all done?  Did you have to take a drug test? (FYI, stop eating poppy seed bagels several days before the drug test.  While rare, poppy seeds can produce a false positive in a drug test).  Did the test results come back?  Has the background check cleared?  Do you have a confirmed start date and a written job offer? When does health insurance coverage start?  Know if you will need to elect Cobra, to extend your health insurance for a period after you begin the job.  Do you have a garden leave or non-compete?  Make sure in setting your start date that you have factored a forced hiatus into the start date decision. If you have been given a contract rather than an offer letter, make sure that you have an employment lawyer review it.  As you work through these steps, slowly remove your personal/important possessions from your office or cubicle in case you are escorted out after quitting.   Once you can check off all the pre-employment requirements, it’s time to resign.

First, make sure you really want the job so that you do not get tempted by any counter-offers (see my LinkedIn post Never, Ever Accept a Counter Offer).  Make an appointment (if needed) to speak to your supervisor.  It’s important to resign in person, whenever possible. How you approach the discussion depends on your relationship with your supervisor.

Let’s assume that you and your supervisor are on friendly terms and that he/she has taken on a mentor role for you.  It will be important to preserve that relationship for the long term.  Make sure that you express your gratitude for the opportunity that you had working with him/her.  Share information on why the new job will offer growth or compensation that the current role can’t, but never imply that there was any problem with the current role.  While it may sound odd, remember that for purposes of your resignation, you are moving for something new not leaving what you have.  Give two weeks’ written notice and assume that you will need to stay for the full two weeks.  If the new start date allows for it, offer to help with transition or wrapping up an assignment.  If you have any strong relationships elsewhere in the firm, let them know about your plans after you resign, unless one or more of them already provided a reference. Throughout the process, stay positive but make sure that your supervisor and those more senior know that you are not looking for a counter offer and cannot accept one.

Unfortunately, some of us have the boss from hell. The screamer, the abuser.  It’s still important to resign in person.  Put together a formal note saying that you are resigning, effective a certain date and will stay for two weeks, if needed. Walk in, thank him/her for the opportunity and say that you are leaving.  Then hand over your resignation letter.  Do not share where you are going or what you are doing.  You are not under any obligation to provide that information.  Once you have resigned, stay out of the boss’s way.  Keep to yourself until you leave.

Some companies require an exit interview. Use that time to praise your mentors.  It is fine to make suggestions that are constructive but make sure that you don’t undermine or criticize your supervisor if the two of you have a good relationship.  If your supervisor or those around you are abusive, think carefully about what you say in your exit interview.  You have nothing to gain by telling HR about it when you are leaving and it could come back to bite you later.

Once you extricate yourself from your employer, try to take a break for at least a week so that you can start the new job fresh and ready to go.  Good luck!

If you found this article helpful you might also want to check out “Take Five Crucial Steps to a Successful Job Search”