Resignation Do’s and Don’ts

Leaving a job can be trickier than landing one in the first place. Even if it’s on the best of terms, you’re still closing the book on an entire chapter of your life, and that kind of emotion can lead messy negotiations and complicated departures.

There are ways, however, to soften the blow. With the right attitude and a little bit of planning, you can ease the transition of any resignation.

Whether you’re moving, changing jobs or simply seeking new opportunities, here are a few tips for resigning gracefully.

Do

Write a resignation letter. It’s the polite thing to do, and better still, if anything goes wrong later you’ll have physical document of what was said and how you left the company. Get in contact with your HR department if you aren’t sure where the paperwork should go.

Don’t

Negotiate terms or make any verbal agreements without writing them down. That’s just asking for trouble.

Do

Give notice. Two weeks is only the standard practice; if you’re able and willing to stay longer, to finish projects or train your replacement, then make sure your bosses know that’s an option. You’ll want to be as helpful and accommodating as possible so they’ll remember you fondly. You may need them as a professional reference someday.

Don’t

Linger. Even if you’re willing to stay longer than two weeks, don’t let yourself get caught in a cycle of “one more thing” or “might as well finish this too.” Have an exit strategy and stick to it. If possible, set a definite date for your last day of employment.

Do

Keep the terms of your resignation to yourself.

Don’t

Tell everyone around you as soon as you quit, especially if you’re in a position where your exit means someone else will be promoted. Let your supervisors decide how they want to handle it. Remember, they just lost an employee. They already have a headache. Don’t leave another mess for them to clean up after you’re gone, too.

Do

Stay professional all the way through the door and beyond. The way you act after giving notice can still have far-reaching consequences for your future, especially if you’re switching companies but staying in the same industry. People talk. They network. You don’t want a reputation as a bad seed.

Don’t

Make it personal. It may be tempting to unload on your boss or finally tell your co-workers what you really think of them, but every bridge you burn now is one that can never be repaired. You won’t get the chance to apologize or make amends once you’re not working with them everyday. Stay cordial and give them a real reason to miss you after you’re gone.

Do

Spend your last two weeks like you aren’t going anywhere. Keep working until the end. Fill the water cooler when it’s your turn. The best way to leave a company is by acting like you aren’t leaving at all.

Don’t

Gossip. Slack off. Make a nuisance of yourself just because you’ve quit. Again, this is all about leaving a good impression, not only for your coworkers but for your future.

Do

Make a clean break. Stick to the terms of your resignation letter and don’t let yourself be swayed into anything else. If you still have friends at the company, meet them for lunch off the premises so you won’t have to look at what you left. Once you’ve quit, the key is not to look back.

Don’t

Accept any counter-offers. For one, you’ll seem disloyal and easily swayed by money/position/circumstance. Even if they seem pleased by your change of heart, your bosses will always remember that you were once willing to cut your losses and run.

More importantly, however, there’s a reason you’re quitting. If a raise or better benefits could’ve solved your problems, you would’ve asked for them in the first place instead of turning in a resignation letter. Your gut instinct knows when it’s time to move on.

Do

Realize that quitting your job isn’t the end of the world. It may be tough to keep things in perspective when you’re in the middle of resignation drama, but the truth is that both you and the company will survive this change. They’ll get over it. You’ll find something new. Life will go on, and soon you’ll be transitioning to the next stage in your life. Stay positive, and good luck in your future endeavors!

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