Resignation - How to leave your job on a positive note

Resignation - How to leave your job on a positive note

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9 months ago

by Russell Adams

Resignation - How to leave your job on a positive note

​Resignation – How to leave your job on a positive note

When looking for a new position much thought and energy is devoted to finding and securing the right role but having achieved that goal there is also much to think about when it comes to your resignation. More specifically in this blog I have focused on how to make sure you leave your current employer on a positive note. This is to both maintain your professional reputation but also to leave the door open should you wish to return in the future.


Although you may be tempted to resign the as soon as you have been made an offer, you do need to consider the timing of your resignation. Clearly from your perspective you need to make sure you have the full offer in writing and that you are happy with the details but you also need to think about the timing from your Line Manager’s perspective. You may not have a huge amount of flexibility here as your new employer may want you to resign as quickly as possible so you can start. But sometimes waiting 24 hours to do it in the right way is probably the right thing to do.

Notice Period

First things first, check your notice period in your contract. Your next thought should be around whether you think they will expect you to work some or all of your notice period. Employers will often take differing views on notice periods but this may be contingent upon the company you are going to join and the level at which you operate. If you are in middle to senior position and joining a direct competitor then it is more than likely you will be asked to leave straight away and may be put on gardening lave. If you suspect this may be the case, you should clear personal details/contacts from phones and e-mail and discretely clear your desk of essential items before you resign. Other employers may be willing to negotiate down your notice period but they are able to hold you to your contractual period.

Talk to your Line Manager first

Wherever possible, your resignation should be done to your line manager. This will ensure your notice period begins immediately and will sit more comfortably with your line manager. You should be very careful about who is aware of your intention to resign. A sense of betrayal will be felt in any case but for your boss to hear on the grapevine is likely to make things particularly difficult. You should prepare yourself for a difficult conversation as your departure is going to have a direct and negative impact on your line manager. Do not rise to the bait and try and keep your emotions in check, maintain composure and be professional at all times even if your line manager is not.

Be modest

Although you will hopefully be overjoyed about your new role you need to cautious about how this comes across to both your line manager and co-workers. Bragging about your new job or pay rise to everyone you talk is unlikely to sit comfortably with anyone. Having hopeful done a great job during your tenure it would be foolish to undermine this by inappropriate and boastful behaviour. Showing gratitude, manners and professionalism will make sure they’ll remember you fondly.

Negotiation – holiday entitlement

With notice period and holidays there is probably some negotiation to be done around when they will release you. Make sure you are aware of all of the information before entering into these discussions and be realistic about what may work for the employer. Making sure you are on top of your workload and have prepared a handover as this will help assist your release date.

Workload and handover

Although it may mean extra hours that you would prefer not to spend, making sure that you have completed as much work as possible will sit well with both your line manager and co-workers. This will not only help you line manager and the person who takes over your responsibilities but also will ensure that your professional reputation remains intact. If due to the nature of the work it is impossible to get all projects completed then you must make sure you complete a detailed handover to try and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Working your notice

For many people this can be one of the most challenging times during the resignation process. You have mentally disengaged and to a degree just going through the motions. However, it is a time where people can really make a strong and lasting impression. Your behaviour and attitude if poor can have a very negative impact on those around you and your line manager and so keeping focused and motivated at this time is really important. It will never be easy but it is only for a limited time and will be the lasting impression that you leave people with.

Exit Interview

Although the temptation may be high you really need to consider what you personally have to gain from being negative in an exit interview. It is ok to give feedback but make sure it is done in a balanced and measure manner. It is also worth using the time to show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience.

Say your goodbyes

Do remember that ultimately it is for your boss and employer to decide how and when your departure is announced to the business. Once it has been announced there is no harm in a goodbye e-mail but again just be careful with the tone that you take.

At times the resignation process can be difficult but handled correctly and with the appropriate focus and effort your departure should be smooth and with your reputation intact. Trying to take the emotion out of it can be difficult but there is often little to be gained and although in the short term you think it may feel good the long-term damage and risks are too high. So be mature and professional at all times and in the long term it will pay off.

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