Talent & Technology

How To Resign

Resignation Do's

Do Give Ample and Proper Resignation Notice
The minimum resignation notice that U.S. employers typically require is two weeks, and they usually want it in writing. Check your company’s policy manual to be sure. If you don't follow company policy, not only might you burn a bridge, but you might also deprive yourself of termination benefits, such as pay for unused vacation. If you’re leaving at a particularly vulnerable time for your company, consider giving up to double the minimum notice. But if you've got to go, that's certainly generous enough. Don't jeopardize your new job or let your current employer exploit you.

Do Offer to Help
Consider offering to:

•   Assist in finding and interviewing your replacement
•   Help out until your replacement is on board
•   Break in your replacement

But don't make promises you can't keep. 

Do Ask for Recommendation Letters
If they're not too upset that you quit, ask bosses, coworkers and direct-reports for recommendation (reference) letters, while they can still recall your finer points. Even if you've already landed a new job, look further down the road. It doesn't hurt to keep recommendation letters on file for later use.

Do Say Good-Bye
Take the time to talk with each of your bosses, coworkers and direct-reports. This is especially important to help squelch nasty watercooler rumors, such as you hated your job or were pressured to resign. But keep it positive and light, while choosing your words carefully. If asked why you're leaving, make general statements such as, "It's a career opportunity I just can't pass up." Avoid expressing too much regret, as it probably won't appear to be sincere. Instead, express your appreciation and say that you’ll miss working with them. If appropriate, distribute simple thank-you cards, notes or emails.

Don't Jump the Gun
Never submit your resignation letter until after you have a solid job offer in writing. There are countless stories of employees who've resigned based on verbal job offers that later fell through.

Don't Display a Short-Timer's Attitude
Before handing in your resignation letter, make sure your work area and projects are in order and try to clear up unfinished business. Leave things in the same condition you'd like to see them if you were your boss or replacement. If you have to stay through your resignation notice period, conduct business as usual and give a little extra effort to wrap things up. It's not a good time to exhaust your unused vacation or sick leave days.

Don't Criticize
Your management or HR department might ask you for "constructive criticism" during your exit interview. But they might be trying to find out the "real" reason you've submitted your resignation. Never criticize the company or its employees. If they ask why you're resigning, make simple, noncommittal statements such as, "It's a career move." Avoid statements that can be misinterpreted, such as "It's a more challenging career opportunity.

Don't Accept a Counteroffer
Of course, this is your decision. But, despite how flattering it might be, many career advisors agree that it's not a good idea to accept a counteroffer. Once you've made it perfectly clear that you want to jump ship, your loyalty will be in question. Your employer might be making a counteroffer only to take advantage of you until they find a "more dedicated" or cheaper replacement. Try not to encourage a counteroffer by making statements such as, "I'm resigning because I need more money." Of course, decline a counteroffer tactfully to avoid bad feelings. But, again, avoid expressing too much regret, as that might help them pressure you to stay.

Don't Feel Guilty
Employees quit all the time. No matter how guilty they try to make you feel, the company will survive without you. If you feel a guilt trip coming on, think about how the company would likely have axed you in a heartbeat without an once of guilt, if it was to its advantage. That happens all the time, too.

Don't Take Anything the Company Owns
Don't innocently overlook even simple things, like pens, calculators, manuals, CD ROMS, and other company-owned thingies you might carry in your briefcase to do your job. When compiling a portfolio of your work, make sure you're not taking proprietary information either. Just because you created it, doesn't mean that you own it. A company policy or your non-compete, non-disclosure or separation agreement might say who owns what, typically to the company's advantage. So, it's a good idea to be extra careful about what you take.

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