“When leaving a job, it’s essential to do so in a respectful way to ensure you maintain your professional reputation and integrity, and leave a positive final impression with your employee,” says Steven Fulop, Director of u&u Greater Western Sydney.
Steven gives his advice on how to properly and professionally handle an often-unpleasant experience.
Tip 1: Make sure you have signed paperwork with your new employer before you resign. Don’t quit your job until everything is negotiated and signed.
Tip 2: The way you resign reinforces your professional brand and, let me tell you, last impressions count just as much as first impressions. You must resign with professionalism and courtesy. Do it in person if you can. If your boss is overseas, do it via video-conference or if you must, via phone call. Don’t hide behind an email.
Tip 3: Tell your boss first, then your co-workers.
Tip 4: Give appropriate notice. If your contract says one month, give one month!
Tip 5: Thank your boss for their support and make positive statements about your experience with the company, what you have learned, the relationships and skills you have developed, and the opportunities that your job has provided.
Tip 6: Write a positive resignation letter/email after you’ve informed your boss in person. This formalises the resignation and should clearly explain your reasons for leaving.
Tip 7: Keep your story consistent. You have definitive reasons for leaving; don’t fuel the gossip machine by giving different reasons to different people.
Tip 8: Don’t be negative to co-workers about your current employer once you resign. Don’t get involved in gossip or hearsay.
Tip 9: Offer your help during your notice period (i.e. train your successor, write up procedures that will help them with areas of your job, or introduce them to vendors or customers). Offer to help your current employer find your replacement – try to tap into your network to help them out with referrals.
Tip 10: Organise your desk to leave things tidy and in order. Return all company property promptly – such as keys, ID, mobile phones, laptops and corporate cards. Provide passwords to laptops, etc. Clean up your workspace (computer, desk drawers, etc.) before you leave.
Tip 11: Participate in exit interviews. However, keep note – the exit interview is not the place to vent grudges or anger; it’s not the time to give the feedback you wished you had given while you were a full-time employee. Be honest and gracious; don’t burn bridges because you have nothing to gain.
Tip 12: Ask for a written reference or letter of recommendation. Don’t limit yourself to your manager; you could ask clients, colleagues or even suppliers.
Tip 13: Work as hard as you can, all the way up to the final minute of your last day. Be a good team member until the very end. Good things happen to good people and doing the right thing is paramount.
Tip 14: Send a handwritten thank you note to colleagues. Include your personal email and phone number so people can keep in touch. It’s a very small market and you never know when and where your colleagues will reappear in your professional trajectory. Wish the company well for the future and mean it!
Tip 15: Honour your contractual arrangements (i.e. non-compete arrangements, restraint, confidentiality, etc.).
Resignations should be short and direct. Be confident about your future, but appreciative of the opportunities you’ve been given. Critically, you will always be remembered by how you exit a business. Do the right thing and people will do the same to you in return. I’m also a big believer that the way you leave a business is how you will join your new employer, so it will send a great message to your new employer about your ethics and how you do the right thing.