The Dos and Don’ts of Resigning: How to Leave Graciously

There are no right or wrong reasons to resign. You can leave because you do not like what you are doing, another company offered you a better salary, or you do not see yourself growing in your current job, among others. But whatever it may be that is pushing you to quit, there are proper ways to go about it.

Resigning graciously needs guts, preparation, and professionalism, and any respectable person must aim to leave on good terms with their former employer. To help you, here are some dos and don’ts of resigning to help you move on on a good note.

Do: Think about it.

Resigning is a big step; it should be something that is done with much consideration. Ask yourself, “Am I sure about this decision?” “Is this what is right for me right now?” “Do I have a plan?” Do not begin the resignation process without being 100% sure that you will follow through with leaving.

Weigh the pros and cons of leaving your current job. Then gauge how ready or willing you are to make the sacrifices that come with it. If you are leaving because you have another job offer, make sure that you want to take it on—and that it is not something that only looks promising at face value (i.e., it is something that you would want to pursue, not just because it seems like there is a lot of money involved).

Don’t: Leave on a whim.

As much as possible, do not leave abruptly. You should follow all the proper protocols in your company before leaving. Even more importantly, you must make sure that you are secured in whatever decision you make. Do not resign without an offer or assurance that something is waiting for you when you leave your current job.

Do: Send a formal resignation.

Once you are set in your decision, take the time to know the company’s resignation process or the conditions stated on your employment contract. Then, send a formal resignation—either through print or e-mail—to your employer. This does not need to be long (i.e., you do not need to give the full explanation of your decision), but it would be best to include a clear statement of your intention to quit, a notice of your remaining duration at work (including a specific date of your last workday), a short explanation of why you are leaving, and a polite thank you at the end.

Don’t: Just get up and go.

Even if you are resigning out of anger or dissatisfaction, do not just pack up your belongings and leave. It would be unprofessional and impolite, and it will give any future employer a bad impression. No matter how negative you may be feeling towards your company, remember that the right thing to do is follow protocols and make sure that everything is transitioned correctly to whoever is taking your place once you leave.

Do: Talk to your employer face-to-face.

A step as serious as a resignation deserves to be discussed face-to-face. Set up a meeting with your employer so you can formally inform them of your decision. This time is equally essential for you because it allows you to iron out the details of your resignation. Go over your pay, benefits, and remaining tasks, as well as anything, needed to help ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. 

Don’t: Do anything over text.

Keep all forms of communication professional. That goes beyond just speaking in formal language; you should also keep your correspondence via e-mail, on-paper, or in-person. This also helps in ensuring proper documentation should you need to refer to previous conversations.

Do: Ensure a smooth transition.

Once your employer knows of your resignation, they will likely begin to search for a person to fill your place as soon as possible. This is not an affront to you; it is just necessary to ensure that the company runs as usual.

During this time, try to assist in whatever way you can to help your employer ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. This may range from being present at job interviews of potential replacements, creating guidelines for the job, or training the new hire after being hired. 

Don’t: Slack off before leaving.

Resigning does not give you a pass to do poorly at work before your last day. Although you are already preparing to leave, you must be professional and continue doing your job as expected until the very end. Think of it as if you are still part of the company, then fulfill your responsibilities as usual—even if you are yearning to get to the end as soon as possible.

Do: Say goodbye to your co-workers.

Even if we have only known our co-workers a few years, it is polite and courteous to say goodbye to them before resigning (that is—after you have informed your employer). Some companies offer goodbye parties to good employees, and this is an opportunity for you and your co-workers to have closure. You may also want to show a bit of gratitude towards your mentors or office friends for all the experiences and memories that you have shared throughout the year.

In the event that you are resigning without a job offer yet, your co-workers may be able to help you by recommending your skills or volunteering as a job reference.

Don’t: Boast about your new job.

If you do have another job lined up after resigning, do not brag about it with your soon-to-be former co-workers—or anyone in your current company, for that matter. It is distasteful, giving others a wrong impression of you. Furthermore, do not sway your co-workers into following your same path (i.e., looking for other jobs). This is entirely unprofessional; you should leave your co-workers to form their opinions about the company and decide their career paths themselves. 

Do: Keep in touch.

Burning bridges is the last thing you would want to do when resigning. Connections are essential in the professional world, and it is helpful to maintain good relationships even with your co-workers and bosses from the past. This is helpful, especially if you find yourselves in better positions in the future. You do not need to constantly be in touch with them. But at least leave on good terms so that you do not need to hesitate should you need to reach out to them later on.

Don’t: Bad-mouth, the company.

Whether you are fulfilling your last few responsibilities or are already beginning in your new job, do not bad-mouth your former company—even if you have had negative experiences with them. Doing so not only puts your company in a bad light, but it also puts you under a lousy impression. Be professional, and when asked about your former company, focus on the good things; if somebody asks you about unfortunate events, mention it in a neutral tone.

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Jica Simpas is a writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She has over two years of writing experience in producing travel and food-related content. She is currently exploring new writing ventures to expand her practice.