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So, you’ve landed a new job – congratulations. Now, you need to resign from your current position. Perhaps this is something you have yet to give much thought to. However, resigning professionally is critical to maintaining a good reputation in professional services.

Interviewing for a new job is typically considered nerve-wracking but resigning too can be stressful. It’s misguided to believe that resigning boils down to handing in your notice and packing your belongings. Developing good working relationships took considerable time on your part and now you don’t want to tarnish these relationships. Indeed, you may rely on some of the connections you have made later in your career when you require positive references or guidance. Knowing how to resign gracefully and elegantly will leave a favourable impression of you on those you leave behind. Below are some steps on how to resign professionally.

  1.  Know Why You’re Going

Your current employer will want to know why you’re leaving so be prepared to answer this question. There may be a multitude of factors that have influenced your decision but try your best to make it less about what you didn’t like in your current job and focus instead on the opportunity that has presented itself. Even if you haven’t received a contract offer when you’re handing in your notice, you still need to be conscientious with your answer. You’re looking for a new challenge or are hoping for a career change gives a more favourable impression than announcing your disdain for your colleagues.

Don’t complain to your peers about the company. Don’t criticise your current boss during interviews with prospective employers. How can they be sure you won’t criticise their organisation in the future given you are so liberally denouncing previous employers? Furthermore, avoid at all costs making disparaging comments about your current job on social media. When you start a new role you may be tempted to announce this move on LinkedIn. If you decide to make such a post be certain to refrain from making any inflammatory remarks about your previous job.

Your resignation ought to be concise and forthright. Be confident in your decision and in your reason for leaving.

  1.  Don’t Disturb the Balance

Both when you’re searching for a new job and when you have a new job lined up avoid disturbing the balance as you plan your exit. Organise hand-offs to ensure that your colleagues are prepared for your departure. If you’re client-facing ensure that they too are prepared and have been introduced to the team member who will be their new point of contact. Write down the most important procedures you perform in as much detail as possible, provide status updates for any outstanding items and do your best to resolve these items before you leave. Your co-workers and employer will be more supportive of your career move if you ensure that your exit doesn’t disrupt the status quo any more than necessary.

  1.  Resign in Person (if possible)

Notwithstanding that it can be stressful and tense, resigning in person where possible is preferable. It shows character and depicts confidence in your decision. Your employer has spent time and effort in training you and a resignation email without the opportunity for an open dialogue is rubbing salt in the wound. This small act may be critical to leaving on good terms.  If working remotely or if COVID-19 makes resigning in person impossible be sure to organise a video call. Be confident about your decision to leave but be appreciative of the experience your current job has afforded to you. Lastly, keep tight-lipped about your impending resignation so that news doesn’t reach your boss before you have the chance to speak to him or her.

  1.  Adhere to your Company’s Resignation Procedures

Your employment contract or company handbook should outline the required notice period. Typically, this will be anywhere from two weeks to two months. It’s customary to abide by these rules and in some instances, termination benefits may necessitate adherence. Regardless of your new employer’s insistence for you to begin as soon as possible, you have a contractual commitment to see out your notice period.

If you intend on working for a direct competitor, be certain to confirm if there are any contractual restrictions that inhibit your ability to do so without a period of gardening leave.

  1.  Attend an Exit Interview

Exit interviews are typically a component of resignation procedures. Ordinarily, these interviews are conducted by your direct manager or by someone from the HR department. Treat this as you would any other interview – with diligent preparation. Dress appropriately, arrive in a timely fashion and leave a favourable impression. The purpose of this interview is not to convince you to stay but rather to understand what factors influenced your decision to leave and how the company could improve. It may be enticing to use this opportunity to air your grievances but try to remain professional and reflect on what you’ve learned during your time with the company.

  1.  Obtain Positive Recommendations

Before you leave, consider soliciting a reference particularly if you have yet to secure your next role. Doing so before you hand in your notice will be perceived as a signal that you’re planning on leaving – so once you have handed in your notice, there is no better time to ask. Oftentimes it can be daunting to ask for a recommendation but given you’re leaving it should reduce some of these nerves.

  1.  Don’t Lose Contact

Irrespective of whether you receive a positive recommendation or not, it’s always preferable to keep in contact with your colleagues and friends you have made. Having a larger network should be seen as advantageous and not burdensome. Indeed, in the future, if you ever return to your former employer you’ll be glad that you made the time to maintain these relationships. Moreover, former colleagues may end up becoming future employers or present you with enticing opportunities years down the line.

If you’re looking for a new role or are curious about what opportunities are available, consider reaching out to the HireForce team.