How to resign professionally whilst maintaining a good relationship

How to resign professionally whilst maintaining a good relationship

At some point in your career, you are likely to have to resign. For many, this can seem like a daunting task, but it is just a natural step in anyone's professional journey.

With careful planning, it does not have to be a negative experience, but just another business transaction.

1/ Be professional.

For most of us, the reason for resigning will be for a more desirable role. Regardless of the situation, be sure to remain professional at all times. This is not an opportunity to air grievances. You never know who knows who in the industry and it is recommended to maintain an 'open door' policy as you will inevitably need a reference and you never know what might happen in the future.

2/ Check your contract.

Sounds obvious, but check your contract. Contingent workers (contractors) will have different terms and conditions to permanent. Permanent workers might usually be on 1 to 3 months' notice (or more for more senior roles), so be sure you know your position. You might want to time your resignation to coincide with the end of a month, to optimise your exit.

3/ Be personal.

It is always recommended to resign in person. Resigning truly face to face might be difficult at the moment, but at least offer your resignation via a video call or phone call, not solely via email. Pre-book a meeting with your manager and naturally, keep your resignation confidential beforehand (or at least be very careful whom you tell). This makes the process much more personal and will come across as more authentic and considered. Also, be prepared for the situation that they offer you an enhanced package or promotion with additional responsibilities to keep you. It might be tempting to stay but think about the bigger picture and why you want to move in the first place. A tactical short term acceptance might not be the best for your career in the long run - so be strong!

4/ Be positive.

Thank them for the opportunities and experience you gained whilst working with them. Also, position the new role as a new opportunity for you to grow and develop, with these factors being the main motivation for your move.

5/ Commit to a successful notice period and handover.

Your employer will need to fill your vacancy and will inevitably suffer some upheaval. To make it as easy as possible for them, offer your full commitment up to your last day and to a full and successful handover, to minimise the disruption your departure will cause.

Existing work obligations should be honoured and a good idea is to create a handover document, outlining the main tasks that have to be accomplished and useful related information such as network access, log in details etc.