How To Resign On Good Terms

There are right and wrong ways of resigning from your job. Doing it the wrong way can lead to bad feelings between you and your employer resulting in a bad reference. On the other hand, the correct resignation etiquette will contribute to continued success in both your personal and career development. So, here is Freedom’s step by step guide to a graceful departure; avoiding that dreaded poor reference.

Before you quit:

1. Be certain of your decision
Think very carefully about the decision you are about to make. After you have handed your letter of resignation in, there is no turning back. Write down a list of reason to stay and reason to leave. The main question you want to ask yourself is whether you will prosper from a change. A new role could potentially offer new career opportunities, higher pay, more attractive benefits and/or greater job satisfaction - but you have to be happy with your choice.

During your resignation:

2. Tell your boss
Once you’ve landed your ‘perfect’ role, the first thing you should do is tell your line manager. Handing in your notice can sometimes be very hard, which is why we suggest doing it on a Friday afternoon - this will put distance between you and your employer over the weekend and allow the dust to settle.
Prepare what you are going to say in advance and then stick to it - particularly if you are asked to provide information you'd rather not disclose. It's important to leave this initial meeting on good terms, if possible. This means retaining your composure - even if your boss takes the news badly - and trying to focus on the positives of your time with the organisation.

3. Write a resignation letter
Although you will verbally inform your boss of your departure, it is imperative to hand in a resignation letter as well. Addressed to your immediate superior, it should include your name, notice to leave, when this is effective from and also your signature. A more in-depth template can be found here -
Hand your letter in when you verbally tell your manager. Obviously the above are the simple essentials needed in your letter; however, it is very important to resist the temptation to air your grievances. Your resignation letter will be kept on file, so it could be a mistake to criticise the company, senior members of staff or your colleagues. If you really want to get this off your chest, save it for the exit interview.

4. Think about accepting a counteroffer
You may be offered a counteroffer, in a bid to dissuade you from leaving. Try to remember the underlying reasons behind your decision to leave. If your sole concern was your current salary, it would have been far simpler to negotiate a pay rise with your employer weeks or months ago. By staying put, you might miss a huge opportunity to advance and develop as a professional. Another 12 months down the line, you may be in the exact same situation, writing yet another resignation letter.

5. Work your notice
It goes without saying that you need to work your notice period, as stated in the terms of your employment contract. The only exception would be if it is mutually beneficial for you and your existing employer to bring your departure date forward. This could be because they would like to get your replacement in as soon as possible or they may look for you to take a small pay cut. The organisation you are joining may even agree some form of financial settlement with your current employer to secure an early release. These are all things that will be unique to your agreement with your company. However, the most important function to working your notice is to ensure the smooth handover of clients, accounts and uncompleted work to your colleagues, or the person taking over your role. Unless the transition is seamless, you're in danger of leaving a negative last impression - one which will stay with your former managers and colleagues. Although you may not need a reference now, you may need one in the future, so it’s very important maintain good working connections and relationships.

6. Attend an exit interview
You may be invited to an exit interview towards the end of your notice period. Make sure you attend this, and try to be as cooperative as possible during the Q&A session. Your employer will want to know more about your decision to leave, and your perceptions of their organisation as a whole. By all means offer constructive suggestions as to how things could work better, but resist the urge to be overtly critical if you can.