Making the decision to leave your employer can be exciting but overwhelming. For many, the idea of breaking the news to your current employer is the most daunting aspect of the whole process.
We’ve given you some guidelines on what to do and say to help you resign in a professional manner, as well as some things you’ll need to be aware of when going through the resignation process.
Informing your employer of your intention to leave
There are many reasons why people change jobs - a simple desire for a change or a need for career development. Whatever your reason, there is certain professional etiquette associated with the resignation process. By bearing this in mind, you should be able to leave a positive impression with your former employer.
Traditionally, the resignation process begins by writing a formal letter to your employer. This document may remain on your personnel file for the rest of your working life, so it should be carefully prepared. It should be professionally worded and concise, detailing your name and the date from which your resignation will apply – refer to our handy template to give you an idea of how to structure it.
Make sure that you give your employer adequate notice by checking either your contract of employment or the company’s policy documents. If you have already found another job, make sure that your new employer is aware of the date that you are available from, so that no conflict arises.
We recommend that you avoid email when giving notification of your resignation. While you can format the email to look professional, there is a greater risk of spelling and grammatical errors. Also, while unlikely, the email could be edited and sent on – making it a less secure option. Ultimately, the use of email for resignation is seen as unprofessional. We have prepared a simple resignation letter for you to use.
Once your employer has received your letter of resignation, it’s likely that you’ll be invited to attend an exit interview. Your employer will be looking for your reasons for leaving, to see if there is anything they could improve upon in terms of working environments, specific practices and procedures or particular business relationships.
If your reasons for leaving are related to problems or concerns with the company, your employer may want to try and prevent the same thing occurring with other members of staff, so feedback that you give could benefit your former colleagues.
Where possible, avoid any negative comments, and keep statements factual and objective. It may be difficult, but try to set aside your emotions and remain professional. Your aim is to leave the meeting on a positive and amicable note, with an agreed leaving date.
Your employer may use your exit interview as an opportunity to encourage you to stay with the company, so be prepared to face offers of promotion or increased salary. These counter offers can be very tempting, so remember why you submitted your resignation in the first place. If you are genuinely unhappy with the company in general or your career direction, it’s unlikely that more money or greater responsibility will change your mind. You should be cautious before accepting an offer that will not significantly improve your daily working environment. However, if you feel that your reasons for leaving can be overcome, then it may be worth considering a counter-offer as a way to avoid the upheaval of changing employment.
Bear in mind that accepting a counter offer can seriously damage your future job prospects. Even if the counter offer includes a promised promotion, this may never materialise - unless you have it in writing, you could be left high and dry. In fact, national statistics show that 89% of employees who accept a counter offer leave within the next 6 months.
Getting it right
It is important that you read your contract of employment carefully to check your final salary entitlement as well as establishing what notice you are obligated to give. Being required to work your notice can make a difference, as can any outstanding holiday allowance.
In the event that there is a dispute with the final settlement, the way you conducted yourself when issuing your letter of resignation and attending the exit interview will have an impact on how this will be handled by your employer. It is important to remember this at all times during the resignation process, and to act professionally throughout.
It is advisable to keep your relationship with your former manager on a positive level, as this will help you with reemployment in the future, should you ever want to return to the company.
In addition, the people you work with on a daily basis can be just as important to you later in your career as your former manager - you may find it useful to keep names and phone numbers of business contacts as well as friends you made within the company.
The key to a successful resignation is to keep the process professional at all times and maintain positive relationships, in the event that your future career may include a return to your former employer or may bring you into contact with previous clients and colleagues.