Congratulations! You just got an offer for a wonderful new job. There’s just one problem: how do you resign from your present job with dignity and professionalism, so you can get a decent reference (even if you do want to stick two fingers up at your boss from hell!)? 

Whether you used to love your job and are facing an emotional farewell or you hate every minute of working with your current employer and can’t wait to jump ship, there is a way to resign so you don’t burn any bridges – you never know when you’ll need a reference. Also, some industries are very incestious – you may meet the same people you are rude and unprofessional to again, and that could hamper your progression.
It’s also quite natural to feel nervous about making the departure. You may even be afraid about how your boss will react and feel guilty about the work you’re leaving behind. However you feel, you still need to bite the bullet and resign, once your offer letter for the new job has arrived. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Give the right amount of notice required in your contract of employment

It may be that you have some unused annual leave that your employer will either take off your annual leave of pay you for – these are all finer details you can discuss and negotiate with your line manager or HR.

It’s not uncommon to feel that you need to hang on for an extra week or so to help out former colleagues – this is a nice gesture if it fits in with the dates your new employer wants you to start, but don’t feel obligated to. Notice periods are set for a reason: to protect both your employer and your interests.

2. Cut the calls and emails

After you leave, you do not need to take any job-related calls or emails from your previous employe unless you have it written in your contract and a detailed handover to the colleague taking over your role or a handover document should do the trick.
Your employer made a business decision to require a certain amount of weeks as notice when your contract was drawn up. If this is a miscalculation, you don’t have to feel obligated to jeopardise the start of your new job to compensate. 

If there will be outstanding work that will need your attention after you leave, you can offer to work as a paid consultant with a contract for a short time. This can be done in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on your new job – or tire you out. But get everything in writing and make sure your new job becomes your number one priority.

3. Work out your pay cut-off dates

Your payday and you pay cutoff date are two different things. While you might be paid on the 28th of every month, you need to know if you’re paid a month in arrears or in advance, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise when you leave. Your company may be paying you a month ahead, with a pay cutoff date of the 15th. So, if you give a month’s notice and happen to finish with your employer on say, the 15th of the next month, you may find that you won’t get paid anything at all. If you don’t have any savings, this could leave you in quite a pickle. 

The best way to check is to make a call in to your company’s payroll or HR department and see what the pay cutoff schedule looks like, and try to work around it, so you don’t go out of pocket.

4. Resign to your boss in person, if at all possible

Nothing beats resigning in person. We’ve all read stories about people who have been dumped by phone, email or text, right? What did you think about the dumper? A coward, heartless, wicked, careless… And that’s just the clean adjectives. It’s not much different when it comes to resigning from your job. Remember, doing it via phone is second best. The most professional way to resign is to ask to meet your line manager, explain verbally that you are resigning, explaining your reasons (without slating them or the company) and then hand in the resignation letter. 

As much as you’d like to stick two fingers up at them if they’ve been a boss from hell, remember that you need a letter of reference from them at some point. So, try to find a lie if you can’t think of anything nice to say, “I’ve really enjoyed working here, but I’ve always been interested in x type of work or x type of projects, which we just don’t cover here…” Look for wa reason that your line manager can’t try to convince you on, otherwise you’ll look like a liar, which can create resentment. Remember, you’ll be working your notice period, so the nicer you can keep the atmosphere, the better.

5. Expect your boss to be professional

Don’t feel shocked if your line manager doesn’t seem upset about you wanting to leave, or seems happy to start the ball rolling. Remember, this is business and an experienced manager will be used to seeing people come and go – bosses rarely are caught by surprise by resignations. Good bosses are happy to see their employees move ahead, and may seem more positive about your impending departure than you’d expect. 

6. Thank your boss and your coworkers, even if you hate them all and can’t wait to leave

Remember to thank him or her for the opportunity to learn in the organisation and department, which has led to your newest and most wonderful career move.

You may regard your boss and coworkers more fondly through a haze of memories than a glare of office lighting. You may encounter them at conventions and networking groups within the same sector if your industry is a small one. And you’ll most likely benefit from strong references and goodwill for your next job and jobs to come. So, stay professional. While you may have had a tough time together, they’ll remember your departure more if you make it a nasty one.

7. Treat the exit interview as a business formality, not a therapy session

When a HR ask you to attend an exit interview, they’ll naturally ask you why you’re leaving. This is not the time to slate your line manager, criticise the directors and complain about how awful your experience has been. Not only will you look unprofessional, but you’ll also shoot yourself in your own foot where positive references are concerned…can you see a theme here? Instead, be upbeat and try to stay positive: talk about how much you’ve loved working for the company and your job. You never know where your comments will turn up – mangled and misinterpreted. Is it really worth the risk?

8. Resist the temptation to share the details of your future position with anyone

While it’s tempting to brag about what you new job will pay you, how much more senior you’ll be and the fact that they have a Costa or Starbucks in the building, don’t be a show off! Details of your future employment should remain confidential, even from your close friends in the company.

9. Focus on your new opportunity not your past expeience

Once you’ve gone, you’ll be history! The very same folks who loved meeting you for lunch will barely remember your name a week or so later. It sounds harsh when you’ve practically lived in each other’s pockets for so many hours, weeks, months and years, but that’s the reality of it. Yes, there are some people who you may stay in touch with forever more, but don’t hold your breath or feel abandoned if it doesn’t happen – it’s very normal.

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