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How to Resign Professionally

When resigning, it’s human nature to start thinking about what you will be doing for your next company and to stop thinking about what you have been doing for your current employer. It’s important though, that you remain cognizant of the collateral damage that can occur if you resign poorly. Be respectful of your employer, your supervisor, your colleagues and your reputation by leaving in a way that serves them all well.

Give Professional Notice
When you leave your company, chances are you are leaving a big hole that your co-workers are going to have to fill.  The best practice, of course, is to give two weeks’ notice. There is a chance the company will want you to leave sooner, but it’s always best to give them enough time to craft a transition plan. If they choose not to accept it, you still did the right thing. You may be asked to give more than two weeks. If so, decline. Any more than two weeks sends the wrong message to your new employer.

Offer to Help
There should be a sincere offer to assist with the transition by sharing knowledge, contacts, files and anything else that will make things easier on your employer and your colleagues. Even if you are leaving because the job is no longer making you feel professionally happy, leave as if the glass were half full – appreciate what you have gained from your time with the company and show your gratitude by being helpful, cooperative and positive.

Don’t go for the Counter Offer
When valuable employees leave, they should be prepared for the company to play on their heartstrings. In addition to appreciating your work and contributions, your company needs to take on the task of finding and training someone new. So while it’s flattering to get the positive attention and accolades of a counter offer, remember you are leaving for many reasons and your departure is a bigger headache for the company than it is for you. Let them know you appreciate the thought, but you have made up your mind to move on. If you allow the company to talk about possibilities there for your future, you are leading them on. Counter offers rarely work for the employees or employers, so it’s best to show your appreciation, but kindly let your manager know your decision is final.

Always Take the High Road
As you transition out of your job, remember that the world you work in is a very small one – everyone knows everyone else. If you are negative on the way out, your words could get around both inside and outside your company – and could haunt you later on in your professional life. Show that you value your relationship and your experiences at your company, even if there were some rough patches, by staying positive and professional and choosing your words carefully on the way out.

Solidify Your Relationships
There are likely people in your company you want to stay in close contact with. Before you walk out the door, have a conversation with these special colleagues; make sure things are still good between you. Help them to understand – without badmouthing the company – that you have positive and valid reasons for leaving. Relationships are among the most valuable things you can take away from a job, so nurture them and keep them strong; don’t burn bridges on the way out.

Save the Bragging
There is a tendency when leaving a company to embellish, pump up, brag and boast about your new job, the company, the money, your responsibilities, your new title, etc. While it’s natural to be excited about your new role, temper it with hubris. While your friends and close colleagues will be happy for you, most won’t want to hear too much about how wonderful your new world is going to be. Exercise restraint when talking about your next move.

Craft a Thoughtful Message
How you communicate your departure should be a mutual conversation and decision between you and your supervisor. Your boss may want to manage the message and take-on how the communication is distributed. If that’s the case, respect her wishes. If you are given freedom in sharing the news, forgo the awkward and passive aggressive company-wide email in favor of a gracious, thankful and brief correspondence individually with the people you care about.

As you are walking out the door, remember to do no harm. Conduct yourself at the highest level and don’t burn bridges – regardless of how you feel about the company, your boss or your colleagues. When you leave in a professional and gracious way, you will leave a positive lasting impression that will follow you to your next job and beyond.