When it comes time to quit your job for greener pastures, you want to do it in the most thoughtful, by-the-book way.
Leaving on great terms means the relationships you’ve formed at your current company will continue to help you in your career for years to come — so it’s important stuff.
Because of some more stale advice out there, I find people with the best intentions are going about the resignation process in the wrong way – or at least an unnecessarily formal way.
In most companies, a more human approach to giving notice is the right approach.
Here are 5 steps to resigning and leaving your job catered to today’s norms and work environments.
Skip the resignation letter (at least at first)
After working with people for a long period of time, typing a resignation email/letter and just hitting send or handing it over seems really cold and impersonal. Yes, in the past this might have been the proper protocol but in today’s work world, it’s overboard and underboard all at the same time.
Even if you end up needing to write one to make things official, that shouldn’t be your first move – it should be a follow-up after an in-person conversation.
Give notice face-to-face (to your direct boss)
…which brings me to my next point. What your first move should be is scheduling a face-to-face (or phone/video if you have a remote work situation) meeting with your direct boss.
Yes, this is harder than firing off an email – but it’s the right thing to do. Also, I promise your boss’s reaction will be better than you think — this is business and it’s not the first time someone has decided to leave a company.
In this meeting, you should let them know:
- While you’ve really enjoyed your role and working with them, you’ve decided it’s the right time in your career to move onto a new opportunity
- Add high-level (this is key, don’t go on a long or detailed rant here) info about the move and reasons behind it
- Let them know your transition plan and timeline, offering at least 2 weeks notice if not more
- (Assuming it is) share that you’ve thought through this a ton and you’ve made your decision – you don’t want your team fighting to keep you if you know there is no way you’re going to stay
- Ask them how and when they would like you to communicate to the rest of the team – sometimes they will want to come up with a plan of action before doing that which should be respected
- Ask if they need a formal letter or anything else from you (I’d bet they won’t)
Follow up with an email recap
After the meeting send a recap email to your boss thanking them for their time, everything they’ve done for you while you’ve been with the company (yes, even if they’re a shitty boss), and confirm the resignation details.
This ensures everyone is on the same page and you have something in writing, which can come in handy later on.
Make a transition plan
This part is important because if you leave people hanging (your boss, direct reports, peers) it’s going to leave a bad taste. Just because you’re out, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the impact on others.
A transition plan is really important and is basically an outline of anything you’re working on, the status, and the information people need to pick it up where you left off. A few tips on this front:
- If you have projects that you can wrap up, wrap them up and finish them off before you go
- If you’re leaving certain things or projects mid-way, explain this to your manager and ask who you should hand the project off to
- Create a master doc with all of your responsibilities, how you approach them, any routines that you have, and where people can find files they need
- Share your personal info in case anyone needs to contact you in an emergency after you’re gone
Say your thank yous and goodbyes
Even if there were ups and downs, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thank your team for all they’ve done for you during your time at the company.
Whether it’s writing a thank you note, an email, making a personal visit, or a phone call, thank the people you’ve worked closely with and plan to stay in touch.
Observe the proper protocols
First off, return any company property such as your company phone, laptop, access card, and desk materials etc. to the right person.
Also, clean out your desk! There’s nothing more annoying than someone having to go through all your stuff and clean up after you’ve left.
Finally, touch base with your HR team so you know how leaving your job affects your health benefits, 401k, etc. In some cases, they may also want to conduct an exit interview where you can give feedback on the company. While you never want to trash the company or specific people, don’t be afraid to be constructive in an exit interview.
This can actually enable the company to know about certain issues and potentially make changes.
Last but not least, be diplomatic!
Many people are going to ask you why you’re leaving after you share the news. It is SO important to be diplomatic when having these conversations and resist the temptation to say negative things about your current job, manager, or company.
I recommend focusing on the future, why you’re excited about the new opportunity, and why you think it’s a good next step to take in your career. Save your constructive feedback for your exit interview.
Even with close friends, be careful. If it gets back to people that you were talking shit on your way out, it will burn bridges for good.
Best of luck with your transition and your new job!