How to resign effectively

Handing in your notice, quitting, leaving, bailing out, or resigning… whatever you call it, deciding to move on from your current employer can be a stressful experience. So check out our guide on how to resign effectively, to ensure you do it right.

Before resigning
It’s essential to make sure your new job offer is definitely a firm one before you resign from your current role, so we advise waiting to review a written job offer and not relying on just verbal confirmations. It’s also important that when you accept the job offer that you do this in writing too, and confirm your new employer has received your acceptance too.

Before you actually resign we also recommend you clean your computer. Not with a duster… but more to tidy up your files and folders and remove any personal information. Some companies will insist on immediate departure once someone resigns, so you don’t want any personal documents, financial info, or photos that you don’t want others to see, being left on your computer. The same goes for any company mobiles or other devices.

When you’re drafting your resignation letter we suggest it’s best to keep it short and sweet. Focus on the facts. Don’t be negative. Tell your current employer simply that you’re tendering your resignation and according to the terms in your contract, intend on leaving the business at a specific date. You can thank them for your time as an employee and wish your manager, the team and the business all the best for the future.

You don’t have to tell an employer where you’re going if you don’t want to, or what the role or package is either… but if you’re going to want a reference from them, it may be better to keep on their good side by sharing some information like this. However, details about your new employer, package information or your reason for leaving would typically be conversation points in your resignation meeting, rather than items in your resignation letter.

After resigning
After you’ve handed in your resignation letter, you may be asked to leave the business straight away and be put on ‘gardening leave’ for the duration of your notice period. You may also face restrictive covenants in your current contract that limits where and with whom you can trade in your new role for a certain period of time. You should take legal advice regarding such restrictions if you think these may affect you, and your new employer will likely want to help you understand the situation clearly here.

If you are asked to stay and work your notice period or carry out a handover, then make sure you remain professional throughout. It’s natural that you’ll ‘switch off’ a little, but don’t burn bridges… you never know whether you’ll want to re-join your existing employer at a future date, or even work with some of your current colleagues in future roles.

Increasingly, we’re seeing more employers carrying out exit interviews with leavers too. As the cost of recruiting increases, the time and money invested in upskilling workers is an investment that employers are reluctant to see walking out the door without understanding the reasons why they’re leaving. So be prepared to answer some questions about your current employer and what was good/bad about your time at the company.

And when it comes to your actual leaving date, don’t forget to say goodbye. Some people send emails to their teams, or the wider business. Others have leaving parties, or a quiet meal or drinks with the immediate team. Whatever you choose, we think it’s important to share your contact details if you want people to keep in touch, or let them know that you’re happy for them to contact you.

Checklists and guides are all well and good, but a couple of the challenges we’ve seen with some recruiters aren’t always covered in guides, so here’s our take on how best to handle the following situations.

1. How to ask for a meeting to resign face to face

There are a couple of approaches that can work in this scenario and a lot will depend on your relationship with your manager or the size of the company that you work for.

Many recruiters will have regular meetings with their managers, whether that’s performance meetings, one-to-ones, or sales meetings… and there’s often a regular slot where you’ll get together with your manager. So in any AOB (any other business) discussion, you can then share your resignation letter. It’s probably best to only do this in one-to-one scenarios with your manager though, rather than in front of the whole team.

If you don’t have regular meetings with your manager, the best approach we’ve found is to choose a quiet part of the day, possibly before or after the rest of the team are in the office, and ask for a quick word in a meeting room.

We’d suggest you don’t send a meeting request with a subject line “resigning” though. It can just come across as a little impersonal in our opinion. If you must book a meeting and you need to choose a topic, we’d suggest just calling it something like “HR update”.

2. What to do when your manager isn’t there but you have to start in 4 weeks

If you’re faced with this scenario, what you do depends on a number of factors. The size of organisation you’re working for will dictate the reporting lines and structure that you’ll have been exposed to. There’ll also more likely be established HR functions in larger businesses.

So if your manager isn’t around and you need to hand in your notice because your new employer wants you to start in four weeks, we suggest that you try and speak to either your manager’s manager, or an HR manager (or equivalent). Request a meeting (you can just say it’s about some HR update), have your resignation letter drafted and be clear on the dates that you’ll be leaving.

Whilst your employer can’t physically stop you leaving, they may want you to complete a handover, vary your planned leave date, or (see below), make a counter offer. How you deal with these is up to you.

3. Dealing with counter offers

You’re in luck, we’ve already covered counter offers in our popular advice article “Why counter offers rarely work“.

There are plenty of reasons that someone can choose to resign from a job, including pay and remuneration, a challenging commute, lack of career progression, problem colleagues, inflexible hours, unrealistic targets, etc. But if you follow our ‘how to resign effectively’ guide, at least you’ll be quitting in the best way possible.

If you need any further assistance with your career planning or job search, then do contact us at Harrison Sands for a confidential discussion.