When you’re ready to resign from a job, you might be feeling any number of ways. Perhaps you’re on good terms with your team but are simply ready for a new challenge. Or maybe you’re at odds with the company culture and are seeking a work culture that better fits what you’re looking for.
Worse are those instances where you don’t get along with your boss, or you’re bored by the work you do, and you have to resign for your own sanity.
No matter the reason for your resignation, however, you should aim to avoid burning bridges. You never know when you’ll need one of your colleagues for networking or serving as a reference for another position.
But as we know, resignations can be tricky. Even if you’re on the best of terms with coworkers, their hurt feelings or misunderstandings can sometimes ruin your reputation. To avoid those issues, here are the top tips for resigning with your character intact.
☑️ Schedule a synchronous meeting with your boss.
If you’re nervous about resigning, you may be tempted to put off telling your boss about your plans. But the sooner you can tell management about your intentions, the less likely they will be to view you unfavorably.
“The minimum amount of notice that is considered professional when resigning from a role is two weeks. Providing an employer with a three to four-week notice allows your employer time to find a replacement, but you are certainly not required to stay until they find one,” Bridge Personnel Services noted.
At the same time, some workers have recently been resigning over email, which certainly isn’t a good way to keep your connections intact. Rather, you should set up a time to meet with your manager, either in person or on a video call, letting them know that you’re interested in having an important conversation.
☑️ Talk to your colleagues in person – and after your boss – so you don’t amp up the rumor mill.
One of the biggest mistakes individuals make is telling colleagues before they officially resign. This is a bad idea; if word got back to your boss that you were telling your colleagues first, your reputation could be tarnished.
At the same time, it can be tempting to simply tell your favorite coworkers about your plans and let the word spread. This isn’t a great idea either because we all know that word of mouth can get distorted.
So, make every effort to tell your coworkers of your plans one-on-one or in small groups.
☑️ Write a resignation letter or email that describes what you learned at the organization.
If you have an in-person meeting with your boss, bring a typed and printed resignation letter stating your intention to quit, the most significant lessons you’ve learned at the company, and your willingness to make your transition as seamless as possible.
“Keep the email fairly brief: Start with notification that you are resigning, effective what date, then express some gratitude for all the experiences you had in your previous role,” said organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz.
☑️ Even if you were unhappy at the organization, don’t mention your dissatisfaction.
If you did enjoy your experience at the company and simply need a new challenge, it might be easier to express your satisfaction during the resignation process. But if you don’t want to ruin your reputation, then don’t express your frustration with your experience. This won’t do any good now that you’re leaving.
Instead, in both your resignation letter and meeting with your boss, focus on the aspects of the job you did appreciate.
“You want to appear gracious. Telling your manager how thankful you are for the opportunities you’ve had during your time in the role will make the bittersweet feeling of resigning a little sweeter,” said career coach Letisha Bereola.
☑️ Express your interest in making a seamless transition and your willingness to help your predecessor.
After expressing your willingness to help your predecessor fill your role, you want to follow through with your promises. What kind of training will the person who fills your position need to be successful? What loose ends do you need to tie up to make sure your team members can follow up with your incomplete projects?
You’ve already built a strong reputation at the company, so don’t waste what you’ve achieved in your last few weeks on the job. Rather, you don’t want to make your colleagues or manager pick up your slack. If they’re left with pieces of your projects they can’t put together after you’ve left for good, your reputation might be ruined, even after you no longer work at the company.
“Using your last two weeks to assist in training helps your team find new day-to-day processes for when you leave. It shows you care about your professional legacy as well as the future success of your former team,” said Bridge Personnel Services.
How to Resign Without Ruining Your Reputation
There are many legitimate reasons to resign, and no matter what yours is, you should avoid burning bridges, even with coworkers with whom you didn’t get along. The best way to quit without ruining your reputation is to talk to your boss early, share your gratitude for the experience, and help your team transition to your replacement.
These tactics are helpful for anyone interested in resigning from a job. But what if you’re the boss? Read our guide on “The Best Way to Quit When You Lead a Team.”