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How to resign from your job and leave on good terms.

Brenda Jameson


​Quitting from a job can be a somewhat stressful and daunting process. Emotions can be overwhelming and anxiety can be high, even if you are leaving for positive reasons! But whether you’ve been in the position for a long or short time, it’s important to try and leave on good terms!

Resign the right way and you have an opportunity to maintain positive professional relationships, that can be useful and important for the future. Leave on bad terms and it can have long-lasting negative consequences that follow you throughout your career.

Consequences of resigning the wrong way:

Ruin your professional reputation: Whether you are part of a small or large industry pond, people will talk! You will likely come across your past colleagues or employers in the future, and they’ll remember you based on your last interaction with them. Even if you move into a different industry, your reputation still follows you. The internet and LinkedIn make the industry pond and network even larger!

Burn the bridge: Leaving on bad terms likely means you have left a trail of ashes behind you and a bridge you can no longer go over. That means relationships you can no longer rely on in the future. Worst case scenario is if you don’t enjoy your new job and want
to return to your old one; it’ll be impossible for you to return if you have burnt your bridges.

Risk future employment: Leaving on bad terms will probably affect your references. Or even worse, your employer may refuse to give a reference, which speaks volumes to your new or future employer. You may have the right experience and skills for the job, but a bad reference (or no reference) could influence whether an employer hires you or not.

How do you resign properly?

Tell your boss in person: Telling your boss in person is the polite and professional thing to do, particularly if it’s a company you’ve been employed at for a while. It also gives you a chance to discuss your reasons for moving and thank your employer for the opportunity they have given you.

Give the right amount of notice: Give your employer the notice period you are contractually required to provide. There is a reason why a notice period exists – it gives the organisation time to find a suitable replacement, allows you to finish any outstanding work and you can assist with handovers. Most employers would appreciate assistance in any of the above and if your new employer had to conduct a reference during this time, then it is worth still being a positive and reliable employee.  

Have a resignation letter ready: A resignation letter makes your resignation formal and shows your professionalism. It should include a reason for your resignation, shows your gratitude for the opportunity, an offer to help with handovers/transitions and a confirmation of your end date.

Say goodbye to your co-workers: It is important to keep professional relationships positive, particularly if you are in a small market. You never know where your colleagues could end up – they could potentially be a future boss! Also, future employers could potentially call former colleagues for a “character reference”, this type of reference focuses a lot on your personality and ability to work with others, so it is important to depart on a positive note.  

As a business owner, resignations are a part of life! But I have maintained great relationships with employees you have left on great terms and I have enjoyed supporting them in their future endeavours and following their successes. So resign the right way and you can move to your next challenge with a positive mind-frame, and a professional network that supports you.