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Time to move on…but nicely

Journey 1

Resigning your post is never easy and it can be quite daunting. There is wide-ranging advice on the subject, but the key is to identify each step of the process, from the initial discussion with your boss, right through to working your notice in the most effective and jointly valuable way. Throughout, you must keep the mood positive, and then leave on a ‘high’. 

When people decide to move job, very often they worry about how to quit gracefully and avoid hurting anyone in the process. If your manager is about to lose their star performer and your colleagues a great team member then, yes, they may be a little ‘concerned’; but you can make it so much easier for everyone by applying a few basic rules.

It may seem obvious that the first person you should speak to is your boss, but sometimes, especially if you’re excited about the move, there’s a temptation to tell close colleagues. If your boss is already aware of the ‘rumours’, it may seem that they’ve been sidelined and your conversation with them could start on the wrong foot. However, if it’s clear that you’ve approached them first, privately, then they’ll be much more likely to offer a sympathetic ear and possibly even some friendly help and advice. Using expressions such as “moving on” rather than “leaving” can also be helpful and your reasons for doing so should always be linked to your career development – despite any ‘underlying issues’. So, offering a positive reason for moving, you should take care to avoid any negative comments about the organisation or anyone within it; it’s counter-productive - and you never know when, in future, their opinion about you might count.

What might also concern your manager is any unfinished business, particularly where key clients or stakeholders are concerned. So make sure that all loose ends are tied up, or that work has been transferred to a responsible colleague and that your handover is effectively complete. If others can pick up where the join is essentially seamless, it can be of huge benefit – to you both. Asking how you can most effectively fill your notice period will also go down well and is one more thing likely to lead to a good reference.

Writing a resignation letter is not always necessary because most of the story will have been discussed with your manager but, if it’s an essential part of the process, make it short and to the point. You may want to explain, briefly, your reasons for moving on, but then your proposed leaving date is all that’s required. 

Finally, we move to ‘working your notice.’ Of course, there’s a temptation to take your foot off the accelerator a bit and relax. After all, you have no-one to impress, and you’re merely treading water until your new job starts. Well, for several reasons, that would be wrong. For a start it would be discourteous not only to your employer, but to your colleagues and those who, until now, have depended upon you. Why should they suffer? The best testimonial you can get will include “…and he/she worked flat out throughout their notice period – never missed a beat!” Ultimately, you want everyone to speak highly of you long after you’ve left the building. So give them a reason to do so.

We’ve examined the main aspects of how to resign graciously from your job and there are some key points we need to bear in mind. Who you speak to first is important, mainly because it will form the basis of what follows in a structured and controlled fashion. You must remain positive, both in your references to colleagues and work, and in your reasons for leaving. Your resignation letter should be concise and just as positive in summarising the situation, and ensure that you leave with a great impression.

Key Points

  • Pick your moment to deliver how to resign from a job
  • Discuss the matter first with your boss
  • Inform your colleagues
  • Tie up any loose ends
  • Write a letter if necessary
  • Plan your notice period
  • Leave a great last impression