How To Resign Professionally

How to resign professionally

In my 12+ years working in the recruitment industry, I have supported many individuals in successfully navigating resignations and counter-offers, enabling them to start a new chapter in their careers.

Whether they are junior or highly experienced, many of my candidates are unprepared for the actual resignation process and do not know how to resign in person. I tend to find that 3 out 5 people struggle with what is essentially a ‘break up’ with their current company. They want to know how to resign professionally, yet they struggle with the reality of the situation.

In this blog, I discuss what you should consider before you resign from your job, how to resign in person, remotely, and via email, and finally what to include in a short resignation letter.

 

Wondering how to resign professionally? Consider these factors before you resign from your job

Let’s start at the beginning. By this, I mean going back to before you even received a job offer.

It’s important to pin down the real reason why you are considering leaving your current role. Is there something missing? Many people enter into a job search with reasons for leaving that can be easily fixed by a current employer. So, it’s very important to have a proper conversation with your manager to discuss your career, salary and how you’re actually feeling. This could save you a lot of unnecessary time applying and interviewing for jobs and flirting with making a move.

You most certainly should not be discussing your pain points with your manager for the first time when you resign. Give your manager and the company the chance to keep you.

If you have explored all options and you still believe applying for new roles and resigning is the right decision to make, then go back to your list of shortcomings in your current role and ensure you are constantly assessing them when looking for your new job. Do any of these new opportunities solve the reasons you are looking to leave?

 

What to expect when you resign

It’s crunch time. You have found a new role and now you are thinking about how to resign professionally. You might be nervous, but do not put your resignation conversation off. Ask your manager for a meeting at their earliest convenience.

Make sure you cover the following elements:

  • The fact you are resigning
  • Why you are resigning
  • Your intended last date with the company
  • Thank your manager for their support
  • Ask for a written reference and whether you can use their personal contact details to support any future job applications (I would only do this during your resignation if the conversation goes well. Leave it until during your notice period if needed.)

It’s important to remember that all managers are different, so you need to be ready for a multitude of possible responses. Below I note down the most common situations that you might come up against when trying to resign professionally.

Situation 1 – Your manager goes into denial and does everything in their power to keep you

When giving in your resignation, your manager might panic and give you a counter-offer. They might even try to guilt-trip you. It’s amazing how quickly planned salary rises and promotions you’d never heard about come up when you’ve just resigned. This will probably be accompanied by one of the following statements:

  • I didn’t realise you were unhappy
  • We have been planning this promotion for you
  • You are a key team member, we can’t lose you

You might not know what to expect when you resign, so a counter-offer might be appealing and flattering. It might feel like they are fighting for you, which is always a nice feeling. But, remember your manager is not really thinking about you, he/she is only thinking about their situation. They will be considering how long it’ll take to advertise and interview for your role, the time it’ll take to train the new recruit and how long it will be till they are performing at your level. Time is money, so it’s easier to use the money it would’ve taken to replace you, to keep you instead.

In a scarce skills market counter-offers have become the norm. Interestingly enough, from my own research I’ve found 9 out of every 10 resignations will get a counter-offer. Even if you haven’t heard of your current employer providing counter-offers in the past – you might be the exception. Never underestimate the counter-offer.

The key is to remember the reasons for resigning in the first place.

If your salary was the only factor in your decision, you might decide to take it. That’s fair enough! However, I would caution you. If your employer is only giving you a rise now because you’re forcing their hand, have they displayed behaviour to suggest they’ll be ready to give you another rise in the future? Probably not.

Taking a salary increase and getting to stay put might seem like the safer option. However, if the counter-offer isn’t solving the pain points that initially drove you to search for a new job, they’re probably still going to exist.

A popular stat in recruitment suggests that 80% of job seekers who accept a counter-offer will leave within 6 months, and 90% within 12 months. There is no evidence to confirm this statement. In my experience, approximately 50% of candidates I speak with who end up taking a counter-offer leave within 12 months. This is reflected in data by CEB.

What’s the point in wasting your time applying for roles, only to stay for 12 months and then to start the job searching process again?

Situation 2 – Your manager begrudgingly accepts your resignation and makes your notice period unbearable

You might not know what to expect when you resign, but you probably won’t be expecting your manager to turn on you and make your work life a living hell until you’ve worked your resignation period.

Unfortunately, some managers take team member resignations extremely personally. A well-known phrase states that ‘employees leave managers, not companies’. If your manager reacts badly, it’s important to remember that they are unlikely to be thinking about how good this move is for your career. Instead, they will be considering the factors your resignation poses:

  • Additional pressure on the team to deliver your workload
  • Time and effort to find and interview replacements
  • Once a replacement is found, depending on the technical complexities of the role/environment, it can take someone up to 6 months to start having a real impact in the role

The cost of your resignation could be high, so don’t take it personally if your manager isn’t thrilled for you. However, remember that your manager’s problems are not your own. 98% of resignations do impact companies, even if only slightly, but they will carry on. You might be an integral team member, but the business will continue without you.

Work your resignation period professionally giving just as much energy and enthusiasm as you normally would and leave with your head held high.

Situation 3 – Your manager accepts your resignation with grace

If you have a good relationship with your manager and you’ve read this article, you know how to resign professionally, so hopefully, they will react well and be genuinely happy for you. It requires maturity, grace, and humility for a manager to accept a resignation in this manner. It usually happens, when you have had pre-discussions regarding your pain points/changes you need to be made. If they haven’t been able to fulfil these wants, it’s likely they were aware you’d be moving on soon and will have a clear reason for your resignation when they go to their manager with the news of your resignation.

This type of resignation is easy and straight-forward. Make sure you pay this goodwill back by working hard throughout your resignation period. This way you’ll leave on great terms, with a top-notch reference and a network of ex-colleagues to contact for any job searches in the future.

How to resign when you work remotely

If you work hybrid hours, I would recommend waiting to give in your resignation until your next day in the office. If you have the opportunity to resign in person, you most definitely should do this.

If you’re wondering about the best way to resign when you work remotely, but you reside in a location near your employer, I would recommend asking your manager to meet up in person. They will probably guess what you want to talk about, however, they will appreciate that you wanted to do it in person. However, if your location isn’t close by, I would recommend sending a polite email asking to have a Teams / Zoom call at their earliest convenience. Don’t forget to turn your camera on!

Ensure you close the door to counter-offers and uncomfortable conversations by saying your decision is final. I would recommend asking how your manager would like you to organise your handover. As you are a fully remote worker, your manager might require further support and/or training in order to ensure your duties are fully covered when you leave.

How to resign via email

I would never recommend to resign via email. It most definitely will not pay off in the long term to alienate your employer. Whether it’s in person or virtually, you must speak with your manager before writing your short resignation letter.

What to include in a short resignation letter (Example)

Although it’s referred to as a short ‘resignation letter’, I would recommend to resign via email. Times have changed and you no longer only need a hard copy to resign. You can either write a digital letter and attach it to your email, or simply resign via email. It’s important to have a digital paper trial, in case you do end up in a volatile situation with your employer. You might need to prove the date you gave in your notice if they act unreasonably regarding your notice period.

I would split your short resignation letter into three simple sections.

State Your Intention

You don’t need to go over the top with this. Start by stating the position you’re resigning from and the date of your email. You will have already spoken with your manager regarding your reasons for leaving, so it is up to you whether you want to include them. But it’s fine to keep it simple!

Example:

Dear (Manager’s Name)

Please accept this email as my formal resignation from (Company Name) on (Date of Resignation). My last day will be (Date of Last Day), X number of days from today.

The Thank You

Next, I would recommend thanking your employer for their support and describing some of your highlights and the skills you have gained whilst in the role.

Example:

I am grateful for all of your support during my time with (Company Name). I appreciate the valuable experiences and skills I have gained. I will fondly look back on my time doing (Some of your favourite job responsibilities/experiences). I will take these positive experiences with me throughout my career.

If you’re delighted to be leaving and cannot wait for your last day, you have two options.

  • Disregard the thank you section. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with doing this, however, a kind word can go a long way. Remember, you might need a reference from your manager in the future.
  • Keep it super simple. Thank your manager for their support and wish the company the best in all future endeavours.

The Hand Over

In the last section, ensure you show your willingness to work hard during the transitionary period and facilitate a smooth handover.

Example:

During my last couple of weeks at (Company Name), I will do everything in my power to ensure a smooth handover of duties and will provide any required training.

Best wishes,

(Your Name)

 

 

It can be difficult to know what to expect when you resign, so I hope this article has been a good guide to how to resign professionally. The key is to know what you want from your next job move and to be confident that when you resign in person you know you are making the right decision and your mind won’t be changed.

If you require any assistance in your job search and you work in the IT sector, I would be more than happy to help. Click here to send me your CV or here to get in touch.

 

 

 

 

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