Maybe you hate your boss, or you just received a better offer from a competitor. Perhaps you’re moving out of state, or you feel you’ve outgrown your role.
Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to quit your job. And now you have to do one of the most difficult things: tell your employer.
Once you know you’re leaving a company, you need to think carefully about how you want to break the news, says job coach Lea McLeod. “When you’re in the professional world, everything you do from writing a memo to writing a resignation letter tells people what to think about you,” she says. And it’s imperative that you leave your job on a high note as to avoid burning bridges, which could negatively impact the future of your career.
Here are six tips to help you formally resign with class, rather than a tarnished reputation:
Tell your boss in person.
While HR will require a formal letter of resignation for their files, it’s important to actually make the announcement to your employer in person. “Try to get 15 minutes on your boss’s calendar right at the beginning of the day to have a personal conversation,” McLeod suggests.
Keep the conversation positive, professional, and constructive. Refrain from being rude or insulting, no matter how horrible your manager was. “You never know where people are going to end up,” warns McLeod. You might need a recommendation from her or find yourselves working together again one day.
Keep your letter simple.
Resignation letters don’t need to include a drawn-out narrative of your time at the company or why you decided to leave. “It needs to be simple, straightforward, and to the point,” McLeod says. Your name and position, a statement that you’re resigning, and the date you’re leaving are the only things that absolutely need to be written — but you can add a sentiment such as, “I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work here,” if you wish.
Telling your boss in person will be the hardest part of the process, McLeod says. The actual letter of resignation serves more as a paper trail to document that you initiated the decision to leave, rather than an announcement of your decision.
According to Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach with SixFigureStart, resigning in a mean-spirited way is the biggest mistake professionals make. You don’t need to give a reason for leaving, but if you wish to include a bit more context, your formal letter isn’t the place to air your grievances or call out colleagues. While you might be tempted to give your boss the proverbial middle finger — especially if you’re leaving on unfavorable terms — the feeling of satisfaction it gives you will be fleeting (and never worth it).
Not only will acting childish scorn your reputation in the eyes of higher-ups who you might need to later rely on for references, it can burn bridges with coworkers you do intend to keep in touch with. “Even colleagues who don’t have a stake in it are going to see that and think, ‘Wow, that’s really unprofessional, that person is so immature,'” Ceniza-Levine says.
Don’t get too personal.
There will be people you want to thank, commend, and say goodbye to when you decide to leave. But, Ceniza-Levine suggests you forgo including anything overly personal in your resignation letter. “Instead, send personal thank-yous to individual people,” she says.
Sending individual notes will allow you to personalise each one for the recipient, making them much more meaningful.
Time it right.
There’s no magic number for how far in advance to announce your departure, but you should aim to give your employer as much time as possible to hire and train a replacement. “Some companies ask for minimum of two weeks, or longer, especially the more senior you are and the bigger projects you’re working on,” Ceniza-Levine says.
However, it’s important to review your company’s policy before resigning, as some offices force you to evacuate immediately. You don’t want to go in thinking you’re giving two weeks notice, only to be told you have 20 minutes.
Arrange an exit interview.
Many companies will ask to sit down with you before you leave to discuss your experiences in your current position. This allows HR to figure out why they’re losing talent and where they can improve, McLeod says. This is your last opportunity to give your employer feedback. But, if you choose to air any grievances you couldn’t (and shouldn’t) write in your resignation letter, make sure you do so in a constructive manner.
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