How to resign with diplomacy and grace!

"Well done, you've got the job!" Now you need to exit from your current job without tarnishing your reputation

When you get a new job it's easy to get excited and forget about the role you're still in, but try to remember that you once felt excited about your current role as well! Your behaviour when leaving this role may ultimately affect your brand, references and potential future employment.

As it sometimes happens, once you resign you can be shown the door. Don’t take this personally as it's often due to confidentiality, and no matter how awful you may feel about this treatment, be the better person by leaving your work completed and desk tidy to not only help make the transition for your replacement easier but enable you to depart feeling good about the work you have done and the people you have met.

Some tips for resigning with diplomacy and grace:

  1. Give a reasonable amount of notice. Regardless of the period of notice in your letter of offer, so you can depart without leaving too many unfinished tasks or projects (and your colleagues or team to do your work), we recommend you negotiate the best time to wrap up your role with your employer (you would not like one of your colleagues to leave before complete unfinished work). For example, your original letter of offer states that you are required to give two weeks’ notice however that was when you started as a junior and now as Team Leader you're responsible for larger projects, which take longer thn two weeks to complete. Giving your employer a reasonble amount of notice also gives them more time to find the right person to replace you; they will appreciate your consideration.
  2. Resign calmly and professionally. Plan ahead how you will resign. Request an appointment with your employer and during your exit discussion be calm, clear and respectful, accentuate the positives and express your appreciation for the opportunity to have worked with them: remember, they will be your latest referee.
  3. Tell your manager or the person you report to as soon as you have 'officially' informed your employer of your departure. Put yourself in their shoes: would you like to hear second hand that a member of your immediate team has resigned?
  4. Don’t tell your colleagues too soon. Wait until you have spoken to your employer and have agreed on a communication plan before telling them. Most people can't wait to tell everyone about their “awesome new job” however if you want to leave on good terms, you need to consider your colleagues' feelings. While some may be happy for you, others can focus on how your departure affects them or feel disappointed, resentful or jealous. It's therefore best to tell them about your new role in the right way, at the right time, being mindful of what this means to everyone you work with (clients too).
  5. Offer to do a handover. If your employer accepts your offer, handover your role to your replacement in the manner you would like to be shown your new role - and don't forget to provide computer tips, passwords and logins and any 'inside' information that will help make their transition smoother.
  6. Do not disparage or bad mouth the company, bosses or colleagues, as tempting as it might be sometimes to vent and criticise to a new set of ears. Criticising and complaining about your old employer is unprofessional and reflects badly on you plus your new employer may think you will do the same to them one day. Choose to start on a positive note, and who knows? You may work again with an ex-manager or colleague in the future and you'll be glad you behaved professionally.
  7. To further help you leave a good lasting impression, don't get lazy or lose interest your work and continue to go about your tasks as you normally would until you walk out the door for the final time.
  8. Be professional, calm, respectful and honest in your exit interview. While it can be tempting to complain about the role or colleagues or criticise the company, it will only leave a bad lasting impression.
  9. If you are offered a counter offer and don’t plan on considering it, be honest and don’t 'flirt' with the offer. Not only does this waste your employer's time and delay finding your replacement, it is inconsiderate and just plain rude.
  10. Tie up all possible loose ends. Leave with your head held high and be proud to leave your work to the next person. Thank everyone who helped you along your way face to face, it will mean much to them and leave a lasting good impression.

"With the above in mind, consider this wonderful piece of advice I was given when I was a girl: "If  you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all," says Lisa Bousfield. "If you live by old saying both professionally and personally, it will help keep your reputation in tact at all times."