As a worker bee, have you ever thought about what a scenario of your resignation would be like? Quietly packing up your things the night before and leaving a note on your desk that reads “I QUIT” for your boss to find the next morning? Recording a song and sending your direct manager the YouTube link as a symbolic final use of your corporate email account?
Plan for a singing telegram? Or yours could just be uttering those satisfying two words right in your boss’ face after which you catwalk out of the office (or run if you’d like), the wind in your hair and motivational music (Gonna Fly Now/Theme from Rocky comes to mind) playing in the background.
Although things like that rarely happen in real life, we’ve all come across some pretty outrageous resignation attempts. But there’s a case to be made for those who do it with grace – no matter how bad things get.
This brings us to the question of how. How would you approach quitting your job when the best course of action is resisting the urge to burn all the bridges behind you?
Give ample notice
While you may be tempted to, especially if the situation warrants it, give 24-hours notice for your resignation, don’t do it. Take your cue from the terms outlined in your employment contract. If you are currently higher up on the corporate ladder, you want to consider giving the company more lead time to find a replacement. Doing this shows your responsibility and that you still value your work.
You’re a professional, so at the very least – give them four weeks notice.
We’ve also found that the best way to give resignation is to do it in person. If this is not possible (say your boss is out of the country or you’re working remotely), consider having this conversation over the phone or over email if that’s your preferred form of communication.
Look on the bright side
Keep your focus on the positives. Every job comes with an opportunity to learn so take the time to think about what you’ve gained during your employment. Determine and craft how you want to explain your departure to your boss. At this point, resist the urge to bare all and go on a rant. In fact, pick your battles and think hard about the issues you would like to highlight.
Bonus Tip: Don’t put negative reasons as to why you’re leaving in writing. Keep in mind that your resignation letter will be kept in your employment file.
This is not an Instagrammable moment
Even if you had an absolutely horrifying time at your company – resist the urge to bad mouth your soon to be or former employer. This means no posts about it on social media. If there’s one thing true professionals can’t afford – it’s being petty.
Especially not when there’s always someone watching. Going down this route can also hinder your chances of getting hired by the potential employers in the future. You can be sure that the hiring manager is going to do a background check on you.
Bonus Tip: Got a sweet new gig lined up? Even if you’ve already signed your new employment offer letter, resist the urge to brag about it at your current office or on social media. Something about counting chickens before they hatch comes to mind.
Consider: Asking for an exit interview
If there’s currently no policy in place for an exit interview. Think about requesting for one. This is to give yourself the opportunity to thank your employer for the working experience in person. It also gives you the opportunity to explain the reason behind your leaving in further detail (if you chose to do so).
During the exit interview, you should be able to gauge if you can approach/count on your boss for a good reference in the future. If you are asked, consider providing some constructive criticism in person. Do not put it in writing.
Plan how to transfer responsibilities
To make sure there’s no chaos as a direct result of your resignation, offer to train your replacement. Better still, create a manual. This will help make the transition as smooth as possible and leave a good impression. In the manual, record how you accomplish your job responsibilities, the people you work with and for what purpose and include any necessary login details to corporate accounts (like social media for example).
Remain a stellar employee
Once you’ve handed in your resignation letter, spoken to your boss and shared the news, you may be tempted to take a more laid-back approach to your work. Don’t. It’s important that you maintain your professionalism up until the last day of your employment.
Tie up any task related loose ends, maintain your professionalism and finish all your work. If you’re unable to finish certain projects, keep your teammates and your manager up to speed on your progress so they can take the necessary next steps. You don’t want to cause a bottleneck and have people badmouthing you for an avoidable reason after you leave.
Documents to go?
Refrain from taking back or copying any documents you aren’t allowed to. However, prior to quitting, you may want to consider saving a copy of some non-proprietary examples of your work that can come in handy for future jobs. While it’s never a good idea to take what doesn’t belong to you, this suggestion is made keeping in mind that some companies may freeze your access or escort you out of the building immediately after you resign.
Before you leave, return all company property as well. We’re talking access cards, confidential documents, and your computer/laptop.
Bonus Tip: Remove all traces of personal correspondence or files in your company laptop/desktop.
Let them (clients and coworkers) know
Take some time to inform your coworkers and clients about your resignation (don’t get into the details). You can do this over the phone or via email. It’s also a good time for you to thank everyone and extend an invitation to stay connected via LinkedIn. It may also be helpful to include the email of the new contact person in your emails. Alternatively, set a vacation responder for your email account on your last day with the relevant contact information.
Prepare yourself mentally
Sometimes you can prepare yourself for all possible outcomes. But more often than not, when dealing with people – you can’t know for sure how things are going to go down. In light of this, you’ll definitely want to prepare yourself for the worst case scenarios, mentally.
Think about the worse reaction your boss could possibly have to the news. Then, work out your polite response accordingly. There’s no need to match your boss’s reaction or to justify your actions. Even if your boss goes on the defensive or decides to guilt trip you into divulging more details.
Do keep in mind that your boss doesn’t have to accept the notice period you mention in your letter. This means, your termination could be effective immediately. Are your finances in order? Do you think you’ll be able to process the situation and react calmly?