How to resign and leave gracefully …. One day they might want to ask you back!

Congratulations, you have just secured a brand new job of your dreams, and now it is time to resign.


The way you resign, and the way you leave the Company is every bit as important as the first day/weeks you commenced with that Company. You need to resign in a graceful and elegant way.    A way that will ensure that if there is an new opportunity in the future, (perhaps at a much higher level,) you would be welcomed back with open arms.


The reasons you are resigning to take up a new position may be many. You may love your present role but dislike colleagues and management, and would happily impale them on the nearest stake!. You may feel you are not valued enough or have now secured a role with a much higher salary.  Perhaps there have been roadblocks to promotions.  However for whatever the reason – resign gracefully.

A simple letter or memo to the appropriate Manager or HR department, advising of the day you intend leaving, and always, (repeat always,) a short statement confirming you have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the company and wish them every success in the future.


Remember also when talking to colleagues or management after your resignation has been announced to be positive and upbeat. There is absolutely no need to be negative about the company.   You are leaving for a new and exciting opportunity and have enjoyed your time and their friendship.


Why be so nice you may ask?  Because you are a professional and that’s what professionals do.  Remember that. However there are other reasons, and let me explain with a little more detail.


Many large companies are now “swallowing up” similar smaller companies to gain more market share, and of course they swallow up the staff of those companies at the same time.


The Company you leave today, may well be your new employer next week!


 Now if your present role has sadly become redundant you have not actually resigned. However leaving the company still means leaving gracefully and in such a way that the door will never be closed.  Read my article on redundancy as it is important you understand that it is your role that has changed, it is not a reflection on your own skills.


In this situation again I would urge you not to vent any angry feelings in writing to friends and colleagues, (emails have a nasty habit of being recycled when you least want that to happen) Your HR department is where you go to tell share those feelings, and look for some advice and assistance, not your friend in the work station next to you!


Next we need to consider “The Exit Interview”. If your present company has this process in place, well done to them, if not, it may be something to suggest (again in a positive way – just call me Pollyanna!) as a process improvement project.


The Exit Interview is when you sit down one on one with the HR department, or, depending on the size of the Company, perhaps immediate management, certainly a neutral party. From the point of view of the employer, the aim is to learn the reasons for employees choosing to leave the company.


Usual questions revolve around the reason for resigning, job satisfaction, possibly reward and recognition, training and development, and feedback on the company Policy and Procedures.


From the point of view of the Employee, this is the chance to give constructive feedback, and to leave on a positive note and with mutual respect of both parties.


Be calm, fair, objective and offer solutions and ideas if appropriate. If you have real concerns and you feel Management have been less than fair, then this is the time to identify that and to give constructive feedback, not destructive feedback.


Again I would stress that being positive, being gracious is all about treating people well on your way up the ladder, because you may well meet them on the way down! Use the Exit Interview wisely, and leave friends, not enemies.


Asking for a reference.    For the purpose of this article it is assumed that you do indeed have a new position with a new company. No reference from your present company was needed – indeed it would be illegal (in Australia anyway) for a prospective employer to ring your present place of employment for a reference without your approval.


But let’s think ahead a little here – should you wish to resign from your new company in the future, you will need to tender a reference(s) from your previous employer.


Another very important reason to leave in the best way possible. If you “blot your copy book” (so to speak) and leave with all guns blazing, taking down colleagues and management, when the next opportunity arrives “who you gonna call??”


Simply ask your immediate manager(s) if you may use their names for any forward reference in the future. There is no need for them to write detailed letters, you are simply asking if you may use their names and contact number if required.


In summing up:

  • Make an appointment with your Manager in order to resign privately, don’t send an email, and don’t leave a voice mail message.
  • Rehearse your resignation speech and possible points to discuss.
  • Have resignation letter ready and carry with you.
  • Emphasise the positive, not the negative.
  • Shake hands, smile and say “thank you” at the end of the meeting.”


As they used to say in old Vaudeville days .. “Leave them Laughing!”

But what if you have been fired?  Is it the end of the world?  No absolutely not, and next month we will discuss what to do next and how to handle the situation for the best result.

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