How to resign from your job without burning bridges | Main Region

How to resign from your job without burning bridges

Resign without burning bridges

Do you know how to quit your job the right way? In today's society, where a job is no longer guaranteed for life, handing in your notice is something many people become accustomed to. But like most things, there are right and wrong ways to approach the situation.

Once you’ve made the decision to resign from your job, consider the correct etiquette and know how to resign from work gracefully and professionally.

Some employees approach resigning from a job much more professionally than others. Either way, the implications are big.

So, how should you go about leaving your current job? Here, we share best practices to help ensure your resignation is a positive outcome for all.

Planning how to resign from a job

Whether you’re resigning from a job for the first time or intending to resign better this time, you’ll need to prepare.

We recommend you take the following actions to ensure you carry out a professional resignation:

  • Be aware of the correct resignation etiquette
  • Consider how you intend to communicate the news to your boss
  • Write your resignation letter
  • Decide which information to share with your colleagues
  • Ensure you are clear on the notice period you intend to give
  • Plan how to maximise the remaining time you have with the organisation
  • Prepare thorough handover notes
  • If your manager requires you to vacate the premises and leave your job as soon as you resign, be prepared to take those steps.

Correct resignation etiquette

How you handle your resignation and depart for another job has an impact on your career. Knowing how to resign from a job the right way means conforming to the correct etiquette. In contrast, approaching your resignation in the wrong way could be detrimental to your immediate future. Remember, a good reference is vital for your future job search success.

So, once you have made up your mind to resign, you must inform your manager.

Tell your manager in person that you are resigning

It’s true. It probably would be much easier to resign by — dare we say it — text message. But it isn’t advisable.

Generally, if you can resign in person, take the opportunity. At the very least, if you are working remotely you should resign to your boss over a video call.

Face-to-face communication is the preferred mode of communication for many staff meetings and employer announcements because it’s rich with non-verbal meaning. Vocal tone, facial expressions and body language is all lost over text, email or phone. In-person communication is associated with professional messages and importance, so meeting with your manager really is the preferred option.

Although you might find it easier to quit over SMS or email – these conversations are certainly difficult – it’s a big tick for your character when you make the effort to deliver a difficult message to your manager face-to-face.

Meeting with your manager to resign in person shows that you take your role, organisation and decision seriously. Your boss will thank you for it.

Write a resignation letter

After you tell your manager you intend to resign, make it official with a letter. To write a letter, and for more information about the main messages to include, read our tips on writing your resignation letter.

A well-written resignation letter will:

  • State your intention to resign
  • Outline key dates -- including the start and finish of your notice period
  • Express your willingness to assist in the handover
  • Show appreciation for the positive experiences you’ve had
  • Sign off appropriately

If you are particularly sorry to be leaving, you may want to add an extra sentence or two thanking your boss for the opportunities you have been given and expressing your regret.

Letter of resignation template

For more advice on how to write a resignation letter, you can download our resignation letter template. This will help you write a professional resignation letter.

Make your resignation as positive as possible

If you are resigning because you are unhappy with your job or as a result of unsatisfactory working conditions or circumstances in the workplace, think carefully about the benefits of airing your reasons for leaving.

You might feel differently after you have more time to cool off. Ultimately, you will regret anything you relay in the heat of the moment, so do not go into detail in your resignation letter. Instead, simply state your intention to resign. Keep it simple and to the point. There is no need to elaborate or commit bitterness to paper.

If you can, try to leave on a positive note. To do this, focus on the positive experiences you've had with the company. Chances are you met some great people, learned new skills, picked up valuable experience and had the opportunity to make a positive difference in your position with the company.

Make your resignation future-focused

One of the main reasons for leaving to accept a new job is to achieve career progression. This indicates that resignations are often related more to new opportunities than current workplace problems.

So, if you’d prefer not to dwell on the past, you can focus your resignation narrative heavily on your future career goals. This allows you to minimise negativity towards your current employer and show you are enthusiastic about advancing your career and achieving your goals.

You don't need to communicate, however, where your new job is. You can keep this confidential, if you prefer.

Give appropriate notice

If you’re wondering how much notice to give your employer for a resignation, look back at your contract. Usually, your contract will state your notice period, which could be anywhere from weeks (at least two weeks is common) to months, depending on the seniority of your role and industry.

Organisations set notice periods to ensure they are adequately resourced and prepared to replace exiting staff. It’s important you honour the notice period by giving as much notice as you are required in your employment contract to help your employer fill your shoes. So, before you quit your job, make sure you find out how much resignation notice you need to give your employer.

Offer to extend your notice period, if you can

If your employer is likely to have difficulties replacing you, and you are in a position to stay for an extended period while your employer finds your replacement, you’ll win extra favour before your departure.

Be willing to train your replacement or prepare thorough notes

Training your replacement or writing detailed handover notes will save your employer precious time and resources and aid the transition.

Don’t skimp on your notes. The more detailed, specific and meticulous you are, the better your guidance and the transition will be.

Information to include encompasses:

  • Descriptions of your daily tasks and processes
  • Locations of all relevant spreadsheets and files
  • A breakdown of key software applications and tools
  • Project deadlines and status updates
  • Key contact lists for colleagues, customers, stakeholders
  • Ongoing issues affecting projects
  • Login and password details
  • Locations of keys, stationery, and other office supplies and materials.

Remember that your notes serve as a detailed account of everything you do for your employer. So, make them helpful for the business and your successor, but keep in mind that they endorse your value, too.

Work hard right up until the last day

If you have earned a strong professional reputation at work, don’t do anything to jeopardise it in your final weeks. On the other hand, you can, in fact, use your final weeks to improve your professional reputation by giving your very best right up until your last day.

To ensure you remain as productive as possible, consider the following:

  • Plan your priority tasks with your manager and block out your schedule. 
  • Consider sending an apology for any meetings that are no longer a constructive use of your time. Instead use that time for more important priorities so you don’t leave any loose ends.
  • Try to retain the routines you follow in any other week at work to stay focused, particularly in your last two weeks when your mind starts to shift to your new position and company.

Your last few weeks at work are a lot like your first few. Both are big opportunities to cement your reputation.

Make the most of your exit interview

Giving an exit interview before your departure helps your employer in two ways. It helps them confirm what they already know or suspect, and it alerts them to important issues they weren’t aware of.

In your exit interview, avoid making complaints. Instead, be prepared to share constructive feedback and insightful information about your work experiences.

In the interview, expect your employer to ask if a particular event triggered your decision to quit, what they are doing well, what they can consider doing differently and if you feel your salary and benefits are appropriate for the role.

Part with your colleagues, both internal and external, on good terms

Your working relationships with your colleagues might be coming to an end when you leave, but your wider relationships with some might continue throughout your career.

Maybe you count some of these colleagues as friends. Or perhaps you work in a small industry where you’ll have professional relationships with some of your current colleagues in your next job.

In any event, it feels good to leave on good terms.

Send a group email message to say thank you to staff. Share what you liked about working with your colleagues, what you’re grateful for and contact details if you want your colleagues to have the option to get in touch after you leave.

For those you are closer with, perhaps catch-up face-to-face or phone them directly.

Leave on good terms

To wrap up, you might have various questions about how to quit your job the right way, but be assured that you can definitely part on good terms with a professional approach. We hope these tips help the next time you need to understand how to resign from work. Good luck.

How to write a resignation letter form main region NZ

Resignation letter template

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