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When to resign & how to do it

Many people will have at least once considered the aspect of leaving a company that they are working at, but everyone’s reasons are different; maybe it is just not the job for you, maybe you want more of a challenge, better remuneration and greater progression opportunities or maybe you even want to leave to pursue your own start up business dreams.

Before you are certain you want to leave, considering your future prospects is essential:

  • Compile a list of reasons why you really want to resign and stick with them; e.g. do you want more money, a better location, better career progression.

  • Would those reasons still stand if your current company offered you a promotion/pay rise?

  • Will your family and the people you live with agree with your decision?

  • Will a new career path guarantee you things that your old job did not?

Thinking about leaving is the easy part; the tougher part is “how do you leave?” Once you have carefully considered these points, there are two options to begin the resignation process; to resign by a face-to-face meeting with your boss/HR Manager or via a letter or Email written to the relevant person:

Resigning via Meeting

With resigning face-to-face, you need to ensure you know what you are going to say and be confident when you do so, do not be blunt but instead be honest with them, you never know when you may end up needing their help in the future.

Be aware that your boss may question you for information or may even get confrontational, stay calm, be polite and co-operate as much as you feel comfortable.

Express how much you are willing to help the handover period to a new member of staff and how you are going to cooperate to make it easier for them.

Resignation via Letter or Email

Resigning face to face can be a stressful ordeal and can occasionally be confrontational; a letter on the other hand can give both you and your boss time to plan out what you are going to say which could give you both a greater grasp of getting your messages across.

Resignation letters can be simple and although you may feel you want to express your reasons for leaving, it can be sharper compared to a face-to-face discussion.

If you are leaving and there are no hard feelings, feel free to generally express your reasons for leaving and mention how grateful you are for the opportunities etc. (remember, you may need them for help in the future or maybe even references).

However, if you are leaving under less positive circumstances then hold back on writing negatives and getting too personal, it may come back to haunt you.

Once you have made the first step along the resignation path, you have will have to consider what is going to happen next. Is your boss going to let you go as easy as that or are they likely to counter offer? Counter offers should be handled with care as a rushed choice can make things harder than they already are:

The Counter-Offer

Review your list of reasons of why you want to leave and consider what you would do if your employer was to offer these things, would you stay? If a counter offer is expected, make sure you think carefully about whether these things make you want to stay in the long term or will you just be temporarily papering over the cracks?

Depending on your reasons, you may find the counter offer a better deal than accepting the new job but remember that, in the end, it may not solve other underlying issues you have previously addressed. Will your boss treat you differently now you have expressed your reasons to leave? Will anything change? If you decide to stay, will your colleagues treat you differently now you have a promotion/pay rise?

If you have made up your mind on leaving and believe that your reasons are genuine then it is time to move on and politely decline the counter offer as, invariably the issues creep back in over the next few months, and when the new opportunity you had secured (and turned down) has long gone, along with any chance of another option with them if they feel you had acted poorly.

Leaving with integrity

Now you are approaching the end of the resignation journey, it is important to leave with your head held high and with integrity, not just for your boss, but for your colleagues too and here are some things you can do to make it an easy finish:

  • Make sure you have met the notice period that you agreed upon in your contract when you joined the company, which is usually between one and three months but can differ between employers.

  • Speak to your boss about any unclaimed holiday and salary and make sure this is clear and signed for, as it is a harder process once your notice period is over.

  • Make sure any you have completed your tasks and responsibilities so you have made it as easy as possible for your replacement to achieve a smooth transition into the company.

  • Be positive to all your co-workers and thank them where necessary. Do the same with your boss and remember that you may end up needing their help in the future.

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