Whether you’ve found your next dream job or are just ready to jump from your current position, moving on to new jobs is a natural part of our careers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.1 years in January 2020, little changed from 4.2 years in January 2018.” It is highly unlikely a person would work at the same company their entire career.
Resigning unprofessionally tarnishes the years of hard work put into the company. Because of this, it’s important to make an effort to leave a company with a positive last impression.
Being an HR leader, I have years of experience guiding many people through the resignation process. Here are a few suggested tips for making it professional.
Do the right thing and respect your manager by breaking the news in a neutral conversation. The surprise resignation letter sent via email is cold and lacks a proper tone. Resigning will always be uncomfortable, especially if you have built an open relationship with your manager. Summon the courage to break the news in real-time. They will appreciate the demonstration of respect.
Once you have spoken to your manager, concisely put it in writing. Email your resignation letter to your direct manager and copy HR. This helps the HR department start the offboarding process. Here is an example resignation letter:
Unless your company has a unique exit policy, it’s best practice to give at least a 2 weeks notice. If you are in a senior position like a people manager and above, a 3 weeks notice is more appropriate. The shock and surprise of your resignation is hard enough. Allow your company the opportunity to process the news and start the transition process while you are still available to them.
Just because you have put in your resignation doesn’t mean you can check out. As long as you are still being paid, be a team player and set up your successor for success.
Document processes that are in your head, share documents and files and offer your time to train anyone that needs to know what you dedicated 40 hours a week to doing. Finish up your work and avoid leaving projects up in the air without a new owner. Wouldn’t you want to see your initiatives continue to live on and succeed?
Exit interviews are meant to give you the opportunity to share feedback that helps the HR and leadership teams improve the culture and work environment continuously. Offer advice on what you’d like to see changed, so your peers can continue to grow and thrive even after your departure. Without feedback, improvements can’t be made.
Be honest, action-oriented, and objective during this meeting. Stray away from negative and toxic feedback. Any feedback that is not tied to an action item is often thrown out as gossip. If you truly want to be helpful, take time to be thoughtful about your feedback.
Despite a world of 7+ billion people, our work circles are small. Even if you have built up anger and resentment towards the company you are leaving, it is not worth your energy to seek revenge.
Our business networks are much smaller than we think, and you never know when you’ll run into past colleagues again. You may need to leverage them for future professional references or even use them as a connection for a future job opportunity you are looking to snag. Your colleagues will remember your exit on a high note, so when you cross paths again, it will be welcomed.
Given your company allows people to say farewell, tell your colleagues about your departure and if comfortable, offer a way to stay in touch. It’s unsettling to work for companies where people seem to simply disappear. Our colleagues are important to us and a proper, polite goodbye is earned. Express gratitude where you feel it’s deserved. Thank them for the time and support over your tenure.
Add anyone you’d like to stay in touch with on Linkedin. This way they will be just one click away.
Last piece of advice, take as much time as you can afford between jobs. Ending a job is like closing a chapter in your career. It is emotional and draining. As excited as you might be to start your new job, take a few days or even a couple of weeks to rest, recharge and rejuvenate. Clear your mind and put your old job to rest. Starting a new job is exciting. Go in with a fresh perspective.