How to Resign Like a True Professional

In tough economic times, pressures in the workplace squeeze the grip on morale, employee productivity and overall stress levels. Deadlines and quotas aren’t met, people get thrown under the bus, and stress wreaks havoc everywhere you look, placing a burden of pressure on individuals to reexamine where they fit in with this company, and the role it ultimately plays in their career development.

Even if this scenario isn’t the case, if it’s time to make a career shift and embrace a new opportunity, you never want to make an irrational decision with your current circumstances clouding your judgment. Before making a jump to a new role in a new environment, it is critical to take a thorough examination of where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you’re headed in your professional roadmap.

Here are 6 important elements to consider when wrapping up your current position and looking forward to the next endeavour. 

  1. Have a self-assured reason for leaving

Going with your gut doesn’t always fly in the workplace—if you don’t have a plan, don’t leave a stable position. Know your reason for leaving—another job offer, a side project that’s taking off, or personal reasons such as travel or family. Being confident in your reasons for resigning will not only help in an exit interview when explaining your basis for leaving to your employer, but also to ensure that you’ve meticulously thought the process all the way through.

  1. Exercise caution with your announcement 

Two week’s notice is the standard minimum amount of time to announce your resignation. If your position requires a specialized skill set, or if a project is in it’s critical stages, you may need to give more notice. It’s important to keep in mind that a resignation isn’t just an announcement: it’s an agreement between you and your employer. You owe it to them, regardless of any feelings of ill will, to offer some help during the transition.

Regardless if you feel you have the right amount of notice to make the announcement, be sure that you aren’t ambushing your team. Your resignation will ultimately create a laundry list of work for them, so find a time of day to sit down and speak to them about how you can help with a transition period.

  1. Never burn bridges

Your resignation isn’t an opportunity to pour out your frustrations to your employer. All this will do is leave a sour taste in their mouths, and potentially interfere with a future reference. Even if you aren’t happy with the history you have with your employer, you owe them some gratitude for the opportunity they gave you. You never know when you’ll cross paths both personally and professionally—and you never want to carry that kind of baggage around with you. Remember these 5 words that can help you in tough positions in life: Always take the high road!

  1. Reach out to co-workers

Networking is an obvious driving force to any career trajectory, but connecting with people on a personal level is what you want to take from it. You want everyone to be a positive reference. You should always be preparing for a future you can’t see, because you never know when an old colleague could become a useful connection in the future. Take the time to acknowledge what you gained from your working relationships with them and how you would like to continue this relationship moving forward. Remember, relationships of any kind are a two-way street.

  1. Make those two weeks count 

It’s easy to mentally disconnect as your last day approaches, but keep in mind that these are still peoples’ livelihoods on the line, and you never want to leave on a note that would jeopardize their work. Take the high road and make sure you are helping to create a manual or onboarding process for your successor, in order to make the transition easier. Seeing that you are committed to your job right until the end will leave a positive lasting impression on your personal brand.

  1. Be transparent in your exit interview

It is possible to leave a good impression on your employer while participating truthfully in an exit interview, albeit keeping it PG-13. An exit interview is typically when employees are asked to voice their opinions on how the company could improve. However, this is different from sharing your criticisms about the company or your superior as the primary reason for your resignation. The only thing these criticisms will affect in an exit interview is how you are perceived when you’re gone.

Ultimately, you should always prepare for the unknown future. Don’t think about what lies ahead without taking care of your present first—because it can come back to haunt you, or hopefully, support you. Taking the high road isn’t always the easy thing to do because pride sometimes gets in the way, but conducting yourself as the true professional that you are will be something your future self can thank you for.


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