How To Resign

June 9, 2024

After the excitement of accepting a new job offer, the next part of the process is often a lot less fun!

Resignation does not have to be stressful and if you prepare properly, the common hiccups and stresses can be avoided.

Most of us have experienced the nerves which preclude meeting with your manager to announce that you are leaving. The process usually involves varying amounts of doubt, questioning your decision, revaluating the issues which led you to decide to look for a new job in the first place and trying to convince yourself that things are not really that bad. Some people over-compensate for these doubts and fears by being very bullish and bold, almost aggressive with their manager to make the parting less stressful. The human psyche is a powerful and mysterious thing and when it comes to leaving a job, it makes us do some very strange things. Some managers also exacerbate the stress of the resignation experience by playing on these doubts and fears and it takes a lot of strength, composure and courage to make the resignation process go smoothly. But it can, and usually, does pass without major problems.

It is important to remember is that resigning from your job is rarely as bad as you imagine and once it is done, the sense of relief and excitement about what is ahead makes it all worthwhile.

Keep it simple

As with many decisions in life, the best advice for resigning is to keep it simple. Often, people succumb to the temptation to over-explain the decision to their manager or try to soften the blow by underplaying their excitement about moving on to the new job. However, all this does is give your current employer the impression that you are not sure about leaving. If you are a good employee (which of course you are!) and will be a loss to the team, leading your manager to believe that either you are not wholly convinced about moving, or not very excited about the new job will make them think that they can persuade you to stay and a counter-offercan be very hard to turn down. (see the Counter-offers article).

Prepare your resignation

Don't be afraid to write down your resignation speech to avoid letting those last-minute nerves (when you are face to face with your manager), to get in the way of a concise resignation. 

You do not have to explain all (or any) of your reasons for moving on, and usually it is easier not to: The more reasons you give, the more opportunities there are for your manager to open a discussion about how these can be resolved and why you should stay. Often, using the cliches of wanting a ‘fresh start’, a ‘change of scenery’ or honestly admitting you are attracted by the pay rise and title of the new role can be the best option. (However, be aware that if you cite money and title as your main drivers, these are prime triggers for the current employer to launch a counter offer.) Giving a simple and vague announcement of your reason for moving on will make it harder for the Manager to pick apart those reasons. Alternatively, if you are then pushed for more specific reasons, resist the temptation to get into too much detail as this only serves to give more ammunition to the Manager in trying to overturn your decision.

Be strong - Managers will want to change your mind. Replacing people is hard, especially good people. It takes time and money to recruit, train and settle-in new staff and if your manager can convince you to stay, it will be better for them. So be ready for counter-offers or requests for you to delay / think about / reconsider your decision. When you announce your resignation, be clear that you have already made up your mind and that you are definitely leaving. Writing a signed and dated resignation letter and giving this to your manager at the start of this conversation is usually a good start.

I hope this helps. Resigning from a job and company you have enjoyed working in is hard but remember that your next step will be even better and try to be excited about what is ahead.