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How to resign

Whether you’re dissatisfied with your current position, have found something better or are simply ready for a change, resigning can be stressful.

First you need to think about whether you’re actually ready to resign. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you happy with your level of pay?
  • Do you like and get on well with your colleagues?
  • Is the culture supportive?
  • Is the training effective?
  • Would you prefer to develop your role or be promoted instead of resigning?

If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may wish to pursue other alternatives, such as asking for further training or support. If, however, you’ve decided that resignation is definitely for you, it’s important to do so civilly and graciously in order to maintain your professional reputation; and keeping positive relationships with former colleagues can also come in useful later down the line if you need references or want to network within your industry.

Before you resign, check your contract or your employee manual for the expected notice period. No matter how keen your new employer is for you to start, you have a commitment to your current company to see out your contracted notice period unless your current employer is willing to waive it. If your new job is with a competitor, make sure you are not breaking your contract by accepting the position, and do be prepared to be asked to leave the premises of your current job immediately.

It is often considered more polite to resign face to face, but as you may be asked to write an official resignation letter for your file, you may prefer to do this in advance and take it with you to your meeting. The letter should let your employer know that you’re leaving and when your last day of work will be. You may wish to take the opportunity to thank your employer for the experience that they’ve given you in your current role; avoid the temptation to use your resignation letter to complain or air grievances. Make sure that you resign to your boss or line manager, not via a colleague or a manager in a different department.

If your employer makes a counter offer, think carefully and avoid making a knee jerk decision: will a pay rise or promotion make you happy? Don’t forget that you’ll be working in the same organisation, with the same people and probably under the same boss, and don’t be persuaded into staying simply because you’re scared of change. It can be tempting to accept the counter offer because you’re comfortable where you are, but is this a good enough reason for you to stay?

Remain positive and polite for your remaining time at your current company. Even if you don’t feel positive about your employer or your current job, by remaining upbeat you are more likely to leave on good terms. Be cooperative and do all you can to make sure the handover is dealt with smoothly: being seen to make the effort right up until your last day will ensure your reputation as a professional and reliable employee remains intact.

Remember that your final salary should include an adjustment for your annual leave entitlement and any performance-related pay owed, but this will depend on the exact nature of your contract.

Finally, don’t feel guilty about resigning if it’s right for you. You’re the one in control of your career, and if resigning from your job will bring you closer to meeting your career goals, it’s a step worth taking.

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