How To Resign – Your Ultimate Guide To A Professional Breakup

Posted August 14, 2019, by Elesha

How exactly should you resign? There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about ending your professional relationship.

We’ve put together these 5 steps for resigning so you can leave your job like a pro and keep your references and reputation intact. 

When it comes to resigning, you probably fall into one of two groups –  

Group #1 – You actually like the place you work but you’re resigning for a personal reason like relocating or you don’t see many career advancement opportunities.

Group #2– You’re a disgruntled employee who can’t wait to resign. You dislike your role or your boss…..or find the work culture toxic. 

Whatever camp you fall into these steps will help you resign with graceful professionalism!

Step #1 – Confirm How Much Notice To Give Before You Resign

How much notice are you legally obliged to give the organisation?

It’s a good idea to know this before you actually resign. If you’re looking to secure another job before you leave, it’s information you’ll want to share with your potential new employer too. They’ll need to know exactly when they can get you on board.

Check your employment contract or enterprise agreement, it will tell you how long you’re legally obliged to stay after you officially resign. 

Step #2 – Meet With Your Boss In Person

When your boss hears the words ‘Can I speak to you privately for a moment?’ he/she will probably know something is up. It might feel awkward to resign in person but its definitely the most professional way to do it.

Remember: Even if you do resign in person it’s important to still put your resignation in writing too.

Keep your written resignation letter simple. It doesn’t need to go into all sorts of explanations and it’s never a good idea to vent any frustrations on paper in an emotional way.

Dear boss,

This is THE WORST job I’ve ever had. After 2 years in this hell and putting up with your rubbish, I’m leaving! Ps – I’ve hidden a prawn somewhere in your office, so yeh, good luck with that smell. PPS My last day will be next Friday 16th. 

Nope. That’s absolutely not what you should say when you resign. 

You’ll be much better off using our professional sample resignation letter templates instead!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give feedback, but keep it constructive, not personal and save it for the formal exit interview or a chat with your boss on the last day. 

Is your reason for leaving is a lack of progression opportunities – not because you necessarily dislike the role?  Have a think about how you might be persuaded to stay before this chat with your boss. 

If you’re a great employee, your boss might be open to making some changes in your favour. Recruiting and training is an expensive process and most organisations prefer to hang on to a talented employee!

Step #3 – Let Your Team Members Know

Don’t breathe a word of your resignation to anyone until you’ve officially resigned. It’s super unprofessional to be blabbing around the team about your impending departure before your boss knows.

When you resign, ask your boss when they’d like you to let members of your team know – oftentimes your boss or manager will tell your team on your behalf with an email or general announcement.

Larger organisations usually have a standard procedure to follow when communicating the resignation of a staff member. 

Get clear on the process before you skip out of your boss’s office and tell everyone within a 3km radius you’ve quit the job. 

Step #4 –  Let Your Suppliers And Clients Know 

How should you tell suppliers and clients know you’ve resigned? Again, there might be a professional procedure to follow or it could be left up to you to manage the communication.

Depending on your relationship with the clients or supplier, you’ll want to let them know the following points:

  • You’ve resigned and your final working date
  • The name and contact details of the person they’ll be working with when you’ve gone
  • The status of any outstanding projects 
  • Let them know you’ve enjoyed working together (if you have!)

Even if you speak with them in person or over the phone, communicate these points with them over email and cc in your colleague who’ll be the new contact. 

Step #5 – Keep It Professional During Your Final Weeks And Maintain Your Responsibilities

If you want to leave the job with positive professional relationships, this is a crucial step.

Remember, some of your team’s workloads and projects will be affected by your departure. Sit down with the relevant colleagues and discuss the status of your workload.

Manage expectations – decide what is reasonable for you to complete or carry on with before your last day. Don’t dump them with a whole list of unfinished tasks at 4pm on the day you leave. 

Once you’ve resigned, it can be tempting to slack off and spend more time on social media or on long lunch breaks than doing your work. 

The professional thing to do, however, is keeping up your usual pace of work. Doing otherwise can come back and haunt you down the track when you find yourself working with that same boss or colleague again, or you need that all-important reference. 

For more tips on how to resign like a pro, check out these 9 Dos And Don’ts When Resigning



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