Quitting Your Job - How to Resign the Best Way

Resigning can be intimidating, but it's important to do it the right way.

Whether you've been happy in your job or not, however feelings are between you and your employers, leaving on amicable terms is advisable.

Even if you are tempted to give one or more people a piece of your mind, the dramatic exit lines we've all seen in films are best left to the imagination. Even if you don't require a reference, leaving bad feelings behind can come back to haunt you.

Let Them Know You're Quitting in Person First...

Even if you feel you've been treated unfairly, letting your employers know in person is only courteous. They may be surprised; they may offer you more money; they may tell you they are disappointed, or get angry and shout at you. Whatever happens, remember that you've already made your decision to quit. Remain calm and polite. Don't get drawn into an argument; if things start to get heated, just say something like "I don't want to argue with you, so I'm going to leave the room now."

... then Follow It Up With a Resignation Letter

Your current employers need something they can keep on file, and you need to have a record too, so always follow up the verbal notification with a written resignation. We recommend that you do this via email and - if you're going to send it from your work address - send yourself a copy at a non-work email address. It will probably never be needed, but it's better to have it and not need it than the other way round!

Why Are You Leaving?

Whatever your reason for resigning, make sure that you tell everyone the same thing. Telling your boss one thing and your colleagues another is not a good idea. Even if you confide in one person it's very likely that the word will get around and your boss will get to know the truth. Don't take the risk of appearing to be two-faced.

You Can Be Honest Without Being Rude

If you've not been happy with decisions taken, or feel you were unfairly overlooked for a raise or promotion, or don't like the management style or culture at work then it's OK to say so! Whether they agree or not, your reasons for leaving should be of interest to your employers. If you have been unhappy, then being honest about it might make life easier for the people you're leaving behind - or your replacement. However, if you don't feel you can do this without it becoming a long drawn out rant, or getting personal, then it's probably best to say nothing. If you want to explain exactly why you're leaving, then always do so calmly. Don't get drawn into an argument or slanging match.

What Should My Resignation Letter Say?

Whatever you decide to tell your employer face to face, we would recommend that the written notice you give is as simple and positive as possible.

  • First, state that you are giving notice as agreed in your contract (check how much notice you are required to give, bearing in mind any holiday entitlement etc).
  • Next, thank them for the opportunity to work with them, and assure them that you will do your best to ensure that your duties are smoothly transferred to whoever will be taking them over.
  • Finally, wish them success in the future.

A Warning

Be careful to apply yourself properly for your notice period. You may well be watched more closely than normally so be careful not to do anything that would give the impression that you are slacking off because you're leaving.

And Finally...

Remember that resigning is not wrong. Stay positive, be polite, be professional, but be assertive too. Always aim to leave on good terms, but don't forget that it's your life and your career, and you are entitled to the job you want.