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Leaving Your Job


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Leaving Your Job

A modern career typically involves several changes of employer and a few completely different occupations. When it’s time to move on from your current job, do so in a manner that enhances your personal reputation.

How to give your manager your resignation

  • Provide at least the minimum required notice. If you are unsure how much notice you must give, check your contract or employment conditions.
  • Do it face-to-face. Ask for a meeting with your manager. Ideally, book an appointment in advance so you can talk without interruption.
  • Put it in writing. Address a short, polite resignation letter to your manager and take it to the meeting. All you need say is that you wish to resign, effective at close of business on a particular day. Make sure you date and sign the letter.
  • Be polite. Resist the temptation to vent your frustrations or speak your mind to the boss. Stay calm and remember the reference you might need.

Telling people about your decision

  • Your manager. Always tell your manager before anyone else. This shows that you respect his or her responsibility for informing other staff and arranging your replacement. It’s good manners too.
  • Colleagues. You manager may wish to make a formal announcement about your departure, so clarify this before you tell colleagues. There could be sensitive issues related to your resignation, such as choosing your successor or allocating your duties to other people.
  • Subordinates. If you have people reporting to you, the best way to tell them is by calling a team meeting so they all hear the news at the same time.
  • Clients and other external parties. Your resignation might impact on relationships with clients, contractors or others outside your company. Discuss with your manager when you should tell them, and how.

Three things that might happen when you resign

  • Calm acceptance. This is the usual response, in which your boss expresses disappointment about your departure and allows you to work out your notice.
  • Enticements to stay. Your employer might respond by offering more pay, a promotion or better conditions. If they think you’re really so valuable, they should have done something sooner. Also, if you decide to stay, you risk burning bridges with the prospective employer you turn down.
  • Instructions to leave immediately. On the other hand, you employer might want you off the premises right away. Expect this if your job involves highly confidential information, especially if you are leaving to work for a competitor.

Working out your notice

  • Work as hard as ever. It usually takes some self-discipline to stay motivated after you’ve decided to leave. How you conduct yourself in the last days or weeks is important because it leaves a lasting impression and affects your personal reputation.
  • Finish off and hand over. Tidy up outstanding tasks, get your files in order and leave written instructions about anything that needs doing. Spend as much time as possible conducting a thorough hand-over with your successor.

Finishing up

  • The exit interview. If your employer offers one, accept. The feedback you provide could help both the company and other employees who follow you. Be moderate with your comments, otherwise you might create the perception that you are simply a disgruntled ex-employee.
  • Returning company property. Make a list of any company property in your possession and have it ready to return on or before your last day. If you have a company car, make sure it’s clean and shiny.
  • Saying goodbye. Make a point of saying goodbye to your colleagues, your staff and your boss. Thank them all for everything they’ve done to help you.
  • Surviving your farewell party. If there’s a farewell gathering, be a gracious guest of honour. Some farewells are coffee and cake in the office. Then again, yours might be an event for which you should prepare by reading about the work party.
Visit our Careers Advice section for related articles.
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