How to quit your job: Our guide to resigning on the best terms

Richard quit his job. You don’t know Richard but play along, it’s a true story…

His departure – when he didn’t have a role to go to – was the talk of the office.

Richard worked for one of the world’s largest consultancy firms. His decision to go travelling for two years in the midst of important projects was generally considered career suicide – a crime he was willing to commit because he wasn’t planning on coming back.

Fast forward two years and Richard had returned to the same company in a more senior role, earning more money. With a suntan.

Why? Because he managed his departure with a touch of class – leaving his former bosses cursing the day he departed.

The moral of the story? There’s nothing to be gained from burning your bridges.

Leaving your job isn’t easy but you should always try to leave on the best possible terms. You never know what the future holds.

Here’s a guide to ensure you do just that:-

The important steps to remember when leaving a job

Jobs for life are a thing of the past.

In America, 91% of Millennials expect to stay in their job less than three years.

Very often it’s how they behave in the last few weeks of their employment that will make or break the way the way their former colleagues perceive their time  at the company.

Make sure you announce your departure to your boss in two ways.

It’s good manners to speak to them face to face but you should also write a letter of resignation – something we can help you with – and keep a copy yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t announce your resignation like this!

In this landscape of constant career change it couldn’t be more important to leave on good terms.

Firstly, there’s every chance you’ll require a reference from former employers at some point in your career.

Your boss has no legal obligation to provide you with one… and it’s fair to say that a withheld reference without prior explanation can look pretty ominous on a job application.

Also, who is to say that you won’t run into your boss or any other former workmates later on your career?

If you were to end up working under or alongside them again you’d be glad you left cordially.

What reasons should you give for deciding to leave your job?

Most of us spend 40 hours a week or more at work. It’s a huge part of our lives so don’t quit a job till you’re sure it’s for the best.

We know of one girl who rang her former employer in tears asking to come back after one day of her new job. Unfortunately that ship had sailed.

When you quit your job you aren’t obliged to explain your reasons to your employer.

You can choose to if you feel it is relevant – I’m having a kid, I’m moving away etc – but the most important person to satisfy is yourself. You don’t need to write yourself a letter though – that would be weird.

Ask yourself: Are you still learning? Are you in a rut? Do you enjoy your work?

Depending on your answers it might be time to dust down your CV.

Whether you’re career climbing, career changing or taking time out like Richard did, there is a way to go about it.

OK so what should I say to my boss when I leave?

If you can be honest and positive then great but if you can’t be honest at least try to be positive!

Thank your employer for the experience. Remember: Whatever a job fails to provide you with, all jobs provide experience of one sort or another.

Try to express your need to move on but show some remorse for leaving.

Now this may seem worthless if you have a terrible relationship with your boss but if you want to get out of the door as smoothly as possible a little tact is sensible.

Think of your reference if nothing else.

Be prepared that your boss might give you a counter offer in an attempt to keep you at the firm.

But, be aware of another stat from across the pond: More than 50% of all employees who accept counter offers change companies within two years.

Soften the blow of leaving your employer by offering to help as much as you can with the transition.

Be sure to see out your notice period unless you have a strong reason not to – nothing is likely to sour your departure more than you failing to see out your responsibilities.

Practical points that really are worth remembering

Clean up your computer. Wipe your work PC to get rid of all personal files, photos and emails.

We’re sure you wouldn’t have anything unsuitable or secretive on there… but it’s good practice anyway!

Give back all company property. I used to work abroad and a former colleague of mine left his job while he was still in the possession of a company laptop.

That was until the cost of the laptop, a hefty administration fee and a fine reduced his final month’s salary to a big fat zero…

It’s worth staying in touch with your colleagues. LinkedIn is a good way of doing this if you can’t bear to meet up with them again!

You never know when former contacts might come in handy – especially if you are moving to another position in a similar industry.

Summing up – how to leave your job in style

Don’t let concerns about the process hold you back from switching jobs.

A 2012 survey by Net Impact found that 88 percent of workers considered “positive culture” important or essential to their dream job.

You owe it to yourself to try to find employment that you enjoy. However, whatever the signs, it’s hard to know how well you will fit into a new job until you actually begin.

Leaving your previous job on good terms – feeling happy and confident about the future – will give you momentum as you start the new role.

Hopefully this post can serve as a basic checklist if you’re thinking of leaving your current role.

If you need any more help – for example guidance on writing a letter of resignation – call us for a free, no-obligation chat.

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