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How to resign with class

1. Check your employment contract

Before you resign, take note of your notice period and any obligations you might have. Make sure you are aware of what’s in your contract when it comes to notice period / gardening leave.

2. Note down your reasons for leaving before resigning

This will help you to be clear if asked why you are leaving. Don’t get personal with these reasons – keep it professional. These notes will also help if you receive a counter offer (beware of this!).

If you’re leaving because the situation has become untenable and you want a quick exit – ask for the best way to do this without causing disruption. Be prepared to work your full notice, you are contractually bound to.

3. Pick the best time

Pick the best time to book a meeting with your manager. Don’t do this before a big pitch / client meeting etc. Sometimes first thing in the morning or at the end of the day is best.

Don’t leave it until the last minute or before you are going away on holiday. Don’t do this before your manager is going away on leave / holiday either.

Be fair about the situation.

4. Keep your news to yourself until you have told your manager

Show your manager some respect and make sure they are the first to know. They will appreciate it and you can work out an exit strategy together.

5. Calm your nerves

Make sure you feel ready by printing out a resignation letter the night before so you can mentally prepare. 

Then book a time in with your manager to get the job done. Especially if you are feeling anxious about delivering the news. Email them to schedule in a chat or for a ‘quick catch up’; have your resignation letter to hand. 

Don’t let the process become emotional. Be matter of fact especially if you are met with a negative reaction. Remember your professional reasons for moving on. 

6. Sharing the news

Ask your boss how they would like to tell the rest of the team and clients. Wait until you’ve had this conversation before telling people. 

Once you have resigned, don’t go around the office bragging about your new job. It’s distracting, annoying and there will be people sad to see you go, be sensitive to that. 

7. Do a good handover

Be as thorough as you can with your handover. Leave things in a good state for your replacement to pick up.

8. Make sure you do what you can to help

Offer help or assistance to your manager to find your replacement. 

9. Be respectful

Don’t bad mouth the company, your manager or your clients, ever! You never know what will happen in the future or who you might be working with.

You will most likely need to ask your manager for a reference. Bear this in mind always. You may have done a fabulous job – but if you leave them in the lurch this may have a negative impact on your relationship.

10. Beware of counter offers…

Remember your reasons for resigning and stick to them. Don’t get blinded if you are offered more money to stay. Counter offers are usually a bad idea! 

Of candidates who accept a counter offer: 80% leave within six months and 90% leave within twelve months.

And finally, be thankful and leave with your head held high knowing you did a great job. This will ensure you get a brilliant reference and you can leave knowing you did all you could to ensure a smooth departure. Don’t burn any bridges – it’s a small industry!

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