Resignation Tips – Leaving Your Job Well

Written by Annette Sleep

Over the years it has been a source of wonderment to me how little employees understand the consequences of leaving a job badly.  Wherever you are in the chain of command, at management level or on the production line, the unwritten rules of how to leave your job well – are the same.

The most important thing to remember is:

The last memory your employer will have of you is how you behaved in the last days of your tenure.

Before handing in your notice, take time to think through your options. Here are some tips for you to help you leave well:

Make sure you have handed over all work in progress and any notes on upcoming tasks.

It is important to remain professional and leave your work up to date and ready for hand over.  Where ever possible, tie up those loose ends and transfer all information and contacts into the system for those who need it. Any skeletons you leave in the closet will come back to haunt you!

Leave a clean desk.

Dispose of – or hand on to the Manager – everything you are not taking with you. There is nothing more infuriating than having to clean up after an employee.  This includes clearing out your email inbox; be through and organised, leave important messages – delete personal ones.  Leave behind all company intellectual property.

Work hard up to the last minute you walk out the door.

I interviewed a candidate recently – he completed all his duties and tidied his desk, but did not bother to turn up to work for his final day he decided the day would be better spent volunteering at his church group, assuming his boss would accept this.  He assumed wrong.  When I completed the verbal reference with this previous employer, she commented how she felt disrespected by the this  action.  As a result she would not reemploy him in future.  To the credit of the candidate when I shared this feedback – he fell silent and listened. When I had finished speaking he quietly said “I will go and apologise immediately to my old Boss. I didn’t realise she took it that way.”

Be pleasant to everyone – even if you don’t like them – it is called “being professional”.

Regardless of what might have gone on before you decided to depart the organisation, when saying “goodbye”, keep it professional.   Refrain from laying blame or name calling.  Follow any set HR protocols and complete hand over actions as requested.  Want to start your new job ASAP?  That’s great!  But remember to give the minimum notice period as set in your employment contract and work to that.  If you finish up all your duties with days to spare, your current employer could be happy to release you from your notice period.  It is in no one’s interest to have you sitting around idle distracting others around you.

Resign in person.

Rather than just sending an email, or doing it over the phone, where ever possible, present your letter of resignation face to face with the appropriate manager.  It shows respect and gives you an opportunity to iron out any wrinkles in your exit strategy.

By remembering these simple pointers you will ensure the good will of your former employer which will make your life a whole lot easier when you need a reference in the future.

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