March 22, 2024

How To Resign

Resignations can be difficult and a little awkward, but—like growing pains—they are the necessary first step toward beginning a better opportunity. As you prepare to resign, here are a few steps to follow. 

Gather your thoughts and remember your ‘why’: 

Take some time to reflect. Write down your reasons for leaving your current job and for taking a new job. What opportunities are you most excited for? What are the deep frustrations of your current role? Having these thoughts on paper will help give you clarity as you prepare to write your resignation letter and face difficult conversations. 

Write your resignation letter. 

This should be brief and to the point, as it is meant to serve as formal notice to your company and manager(s) of your voluntary decision to resign. This is not the same as your written reflection in the first step—that is for your use only. Your letter of resignation does not need to explain your reasons for leaving and should absolutely avoid speaking negatively of the company in your letter.  

Help create a smooth transition. 

After you have written your letter of resignation, write down a list of open items and try to complete as many as possible before initiating a conversation with your manager. Some ways to approach this may be: 

  • Write a list of all your open projects, their status, and anyone who has worked on them with you. 
  • Detail your open items and separate them into two categories: items you believe you can complete during your wind-down phase (2-week notice period) and those that most likely cannot be completed during your wind-down phase. 
  • Provide recommendations as to who should be assigned responsibility to follow through and complete the open items once you depart.  
  • List compensation that is owed to you (i.e. 401 K contributions, vacation pay, bonus). 

Prepare to talk to your manager.  

This is possibly the most uncomfortable part of the resignation process, but collecting yourself before the meeting will help. Here are somethings to help you be ready for the conversation:

  1. Remain committed to leaving. Right before you meet with your manager, review both your letter of resignation and your written list of reasons for your departure. Re-reading this will help you remember why you are having a difficult conversation.  
  2. Prepare for a counteroffer. It’s unusual for an organization not to make a counteroffer. Organizations will often use the information you provide about your new opportunity to create a counteroffer for you. We strongly suggest you avoid giving extensive details about your move. If anything, reiterate your macro (not micro) reasons for why you believe this new opportunity is a better fit for you personally and professionally. Let them know you will be happy to provide them with more details once you’ve had a little time to settle into your new position. 
  3. Prepare for your own reactions. You are likely going to feel a vast mix of emotions during and after your resignation conversation. Have a plan for how you will decompress afterward. If you can, call a close friend or family member and have them reiterate your reasons for the transition. If you are working with a recruiter, plan to call them right after as well. 

Meet with your manager. 

You have done all your preparation, and now it is time to meet with your manager. As the person calling the meeting, it is your responsibility to keep the focus on creating a smooth transition for yourself and your current organization, to the best of your ability. To help do this: 

  1. Send the resignation letter just before the meeting and ask that your manager read it through just before you begin. 
  2. Come with an agenda. This is when you should present the list of open items you created before your meeting. 
  3. Defer questions about your plans to later. This is partially so your conversation does not get off-topic, but also so that you do not set yourself up to receive a counteroffer. Wait until you have made your transition to talk to your former manager about your new situation. 

Resignations are a difficult process, as they are full of change and endings. But on the other side of a resignation is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your career.  

Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller is the Marketing & Media Specialist at ThinkingAhead. She supports the recruiting team in a variety of ways including managing social media, generating...

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