Resigning with Professionalism

Resignation. It’s a word that doesn’t have the greatest dictionary definition. “The act of retiring or giving up a position” is one such definition. “The acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable” is another one. Likewise, it’s a word that doesn’t evoke the greatest feelings in employees (or managers). Although there are certain emotions that can accompany resigning from one’s job, those feelings don’t have to be all negative. With a little thought and planning, you can resign with clarity and confidence (even if you do so with a little sadness!).

Here at Amtec, we’ve seen all kinds of anxieties and confusions work themselves out. We’ve had people get scared and fail to turn in a resignation. We’ve watched people accept a new job and merely take a long vacation from their current job because they had a hard time resigning. We’ve shaken our heads as counter-offers were accepted that shouldn’t have been accepted. We’ve looked on as bridges were burned.

But we’ve also seen clean, courteous, and professional resignations. We’ve seen bridges remain intact and avoid the flames. What are the keys to resigning with professionalism and confidence? A recruiter can help you walk through these things well, but if you’re doing it on your own, here’s the best advice:

First, tell the company that you are leaving and when you are leaving. You don’t need to tell them where you are going or why you are going. Let me elaborate here. Many times, a nervous employee who is resigning–especially from a good company they have been at for awhile–feels the need to justify their actions to their respected boss. They feel the need to explain themselves and receive some sort of personal approval or vindication. But none of that is necessary. If co-workers or managers have become friends, there will be a time and place to discuss or to catch up on career moves. But don’t feel the need to do so the moment you are resigning. (For a true story about someone who made a strategic exit plan, click here.)

Second, never burn a bridge. Ever. Even if your current employer is not a desirable place to work for you, you never know when you’ll need their reference, or even their business. If you stay in a similar industry, a current employer can become a vendor or a customer at some point; therefore, you always want to leave the best impression possible.

Third, don’t accept a counter-offer. Andy Price, Managing Partner of SPMB, warns that once you’ve given your resignation, even if your boss counter-offers, your level of trust will never be the same between you both. Plus, if you accept a counter-offer, you’ll likely be viewed as weak and lacking conviction, and your coworkers may ultimately resent you for what they might regard as your manipulative tactics.

Fourth, always express gratitude. You are leaving a company that has paid you to do a task and use your gifts for a season of life. Whether it was amazing or a struggle, everyone can find room and reason to thank someone for their employment and opportunity for a period of time. Lessons have been learned and skills have been honed, and everyone can be grateful for that.

Whether you are resigning to take an expanded role at a new company, to move across country closer to family, or to find employment in an organization that’s a better fit for you, a resignation doesn’t have to be a nervous ending or abandoning. It can be hard and even a little awkward…but it’s the start of a new season, so approach it with confidence!

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Latest Posts

View all posts