Not a time to vent: how to resign from a job

Congratulations, you’ve been hired in a new position and it’s now time to tell your current boss. But how should you do it?

If you’ve had a hard time at work and the only option you had was to find a new job, it may seem natural to want to vent your anger and frustration. But this is definitely not the way to do it, nor is it a good idea to simply hand in your notice without saying anything else.

So if you find yourself in this awkward position of having to resign, make sure you do it professionally. Here’s how to resign from a job gracefully.

Wait for a written job offer

Before you hand your notice in and quit you need to wait for confirmation in writing of a job offer from the new employer. An over the phone job offer isn’t set in stone, and although it’s quite unlikely to backfire you should still wait for an actual confirmation email or letter.

If there is some confusion with the hiring process and you are offered the job over the phone by mistake, then you would be in a very awkward position if you’ve already told your current boss. So after you’ve received a verbal offer ask the manager or HR to send you something in writing. An email is absolutely fine, and will allow you to write draft your resignation letter.

However, there is one more thing you should do before you resign. Read on to find out.

Check the details

Before you officially quit your current job you should check the details of your job offer. You should ensure that the agreed salary, benefits, holidays and anything else is correct. If not, then it could mean that your soon to be new employer has made an error, or there is some confusion.

If there is a discrepancy between what you believe was agreed and what you are now reading, then take this up with the new employer quickly before you resign your current position. It could be that they made an error and confirm the amended details via email or letter. Or, it may be that there is some confusion on your part but you are still happy to proceed. Again, check everything you are not sure about with the new employer before you do anything else.

On rare occasions you could find that the new employer is trying to break the verbal agreement and is attempting to offer you something less or different to what was initially advertised and discussed in the interview. If this is the case and they are unwilling to change the job offer details, then you have the chance to decline and you are still in your current position and able to pay the bills.

Write your resignation letter

Now that you have a job offer in writing and have agreed the terms of employment, it’s now time to write your letter of resignation. You should approach this in a very positive, friendly and professional manner. Choosing to go with the blunt option is not a good idea, and you should always thank them for the opportunity.

Hand the letter in person to your manager and don’t avoid them. This could be a very difficult and awkward period for the both of you, which is why it’s important to do it in person and not hide away from the situation. It may seem like the easier option to email it or post it to your boss, but they would appreciate you more if it was done in person. This will give them the opportunity to discuss it with you as they may want to try and convince you to stay. Always remain professional and avoid having an argument. If things get heated then simply walk away and remain calm throughout

Confirm the last day of your employment within the letter, and check your agreed notice period which should be detailed in your contract. Finally, discuss with your manager how you would like everyone else to find out – if this is important to you. Telling everyone yourself could be your preferred method, which should be okay with your boss. However, if you are a little nervous about doing this then the manager may happily do it for you. In any case, have a little discussion about this to ensure it goes smoothly. The manager may say they are going to email the team to let them know, but this may not be the right choice for you.

“Even after speaking to your boss about quitting your job, it’s wise to send the information in writing as well (email is fine, but hard copy is better). A resignation letter ensures there will be no confusion about the date you gave notice and the timing of your departure.” – Robert Half

Tell your manager first

Always go directly to your manager first and hand in your notice. Try to avoid telling anyone else in the company before your manager as this could go drastically wrong. Whoever you tell first could inform your boss before you’ve even had the chance to agree terms with the new company, and if anything goes wrong and you decide not to leave you will be left with egg on your face – or face the sack!

Once your boss finds out you want to leave or have received a job offer before you hand in your notice, this could cause all sorts of issues. So keep it completely under wraps and avoid giving any indications or subtle hints to your co-workers about wanting to leave. Word can spread very quickly and people can make all sorts of assumptions even if they are not true.

Create a training manual

Now that you’ve handed in your notice you should consider how the next person will fill your shoes. If you’ve been in the job for a long time and have created lots of your own processes, solutions, filing systems, strategies, techniques and so on – then pass this valuable information on to the new employee or the company

Consider creating some kind of training manual that can be passed on to the next employee, or can be used by the company to help train new recruits. You may be reading this and thinking ‘what’s the point?’, but you’d be surprised at how your reputation can be increased with these acts of kindness.

You never know when you may get asked to return to the same company and even in the same or similar position. A pay increase could be offered a few years down the line to draw you back in, or you may just decide you’d like to go back because you realised the grass wasn’t greener. However, if you burn this bridge then you have cut off all hope of ever being asked to return, even if it seems unlikely at the time.

Your reputation in the industry could easily get passed around from one company to the next, and when you are up for discussion you want to be safe in the knowledge that everybody would always have positive things to say about you. Creating a positive and professional reputation requires you to help anyone you can, even if it seems pointless at the time. So leave the company with every piece of information you’ve gathered during your time so they can use that to help the future of the business and everyone else within it thrive.

Support and train the new guy/gal

Make it your priority to train and support the new employee, even if you haven’t been asked by your boss. If the manager does ask you to do this then you are still employed and must adhere to their request. Any kind of obstruction or stubbornness when passing over your duties will damage your reputation and cause lots of avoidable arguments and problems.

Think about how the new employee would feel if you refuse to train and help them, or you purposely do a bad job. Who is this going to benefit? Would you feel better because you think you’ve gotten one over your boss?

It isn’t fair to subject the new employee to your own problems with the employer, and your views and opinions are yours and yours alone. The new employee should be allowed to make their own mind up about the company or your boss, and shouldn’t be subjected to your negative opinions which may or may not sway their opinions.

Create a training manual and go through it with the new employee. Provide them with every opportunity to succeed in the role as you would hope to receive from whoever may be leaving and training you. Give it your all and make the new recruit and your boss impressed with your professionalism. It’s the right thing to do and will benefit you in the long run.

Be positive and constructive about your reasons

If your boss and/or co-workers ask why you’re leaving, always provide a constructive response and remain positive and professional. You may feel like venting your anger and frustrations, but it would be far better to hold back and keep calm.

Focus on all the positive reasons and consider completely removing any negative thoughts you may have about the company. If the new job is closer to home and more convenient, then go with that rather than telling your boss you think he’s the worst manager you’ve ever had. If you do that you can kiss goodbye a decent reference!

If you do have some feedback you’d like to give, then make sure it’s constructive and not derogatory. We would however warn you that this could still go against you, no matter how constructive and professional you are with your delivery. Your boss could take it the wrong way and react badly, which would only make the whole situation awkward until the day you leave. So evaluate the situation and use your own knowledge of your boss or the company to decide on what’s best.

Your manager will probably have experience with hiring, firing and resignations, so it could be all part of the job for them. But there will be times when you come across a manager or co-worker who reacts very badly to your resignation, so it’s always better to rise above it and stay professional.

Stay professional

We cannot stress enough how important it is to remain professional at all times. This could be a very awkward and difficult period for you and your co-workers, so it’s important to try and keep things as normal as possible.

By following the tips we’ve provided you should be able to make your transition go as smooth as possible. But things could be out of your control and when tempers flare it’s easy to forget yourself. No matter how hard you may try to do the right thing you could still be left feeling like you’ve done something wrong. But don’t forget that your reputation and professionalism will constantly be tested throughout your career, and this is one of those times when you should remain calm and stay positive.

Do everything in your power to show those around you that you will and have continued to work hard right up until the very last minute of your shift. Even if that means you stay a little past 5pm to finish a report. Be a role model for those around you and keep all doors open for future opportunities.

Reach agreement with your boss on how others will be told. Ask your manager how he or she would like others to be told. Suggest that you tell coworkers individually and volunteer to write a short email your boss can then distribute within the department. – Lisa Quast, Forbes

Prepare for the exit interview

Some employers like to conduct an exit interview on or near the last day of your employment. This is so they can gain valuable feedback for future hires and to ensure they did everything possible to make your employment a happy and satisfying one. This is the perfect time to air any grievances and offer constructive feedback on your time with the company.

If you are aware that this interview will take place it will allow you to hold back on any feelings or thoughts you have about the company. There is no need to get drawn into or raise a discussion with co-workers or your boss about any problems you’ve had when you know there is an exit interview to attend.

Again, remain professional throughout and consider writing down a few notes to take in with you. Try not to get caught off guard and even ask your manager if this will happen once you’ve officially resigned. They may forget to tell you about the standard exit interview, so better to be prepared in advance than to blurt out something you may regret.

What you decide to speak about in this interview is of course completely up to you. But always remember that your reputation is far more important than venting your frustrations. It may feel better afterwards but you could have just cut all ties with someone who may have a say in your future through their connections. You may never know how many opportunities pass you by because of how angry and negative you were in that exit interview.

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