How to Resign Efficiently and Remain Professional

Career Management

When you’re exiting a role or a workplace entirely, thinking about how to resign efficiently and professionally from the current job may not be top of mind. With the excitement of the new digs, especially if you despised the last situation, it’s easy to get caught up in packing up office supplies, sharing the good news with friends and family, and wrapping up minor tasks.

But it’s important to still consider the way you exit your current role/company. Even if you never intend to come back, be professional and courteous. Even if you can’t stand your boss, he or she may have professional contacts that you’ll run into over the years. You don’t want poor professionalism to follow you.

As tempting as it can be…don’t be this guy:

 

Instead, use these tips to make the resignation process as smooth as possible.

Inform them Early

It’s hard to give people bad news. It’s even harder to continue to work with them when they ask you why you’re leaving, stare at you while you’re packing, and say they’re going to miss you. But to leave the best impression behind you as you exit stage right, you should put in your official notice as soon as you have signed and submitted the acceptance letter for the new job. Resign early to show you respect the opportunity you were given, the time you spent at the company, and your manager/teammates. The early notice also helps to provide enough time for them to start load balancing and creating a job requisition for your replacement.

Best practice: Try to give at least 2 weeks’ notice. (In some industries and countries, as many as 4 weeks might be appropriate.)

Provide official (but short) documentation

Even if you have a conversation with your manager, it’s still best to provide a formal resignation letter. The design and content for this letter is similar to how you create formal resumes and letters as part of your job application/search process. But keep this letter short…this keeps the resignation efficient. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail. Be courteous. Write in a professional tone. But don’t use the resignation letter as the place to air grievances or go into a long apology for leaving.

FYI, the resignation letter is a good “CYA” for HR purposes. If your manager causes any issue, such as saying you never discussed your resignation, but you have handed over and emailed a copy of the resignation letter, you have a record of the exact dates and messaging you used.

Best practice: Discuss your resignation with your manager first, but then submit an official resignation letter.

Download our template as a handy starting point for creating your own resignation letter. Please note that the template is free to download and customize for your own use. However, DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE OR REBRAND AS YOUR OWN ORIGINAL DESIGN for posting to online sources or for business profit.

Share some insight on how to backfill and replace you.

If it seems appropriate, put in a little effort to prep some ideas on how the company can handle the workload once you leave. This exit strategy can include transitioning tasks to others, and even guiding the process of replacing you. This effort again shows that you appreciated the opportunity you had and reminds them you’re a strategic thinker. You can share these ideas in an email message, verbal conversation, or even a more formal document.

What should you include?

  • List of file names and where they’re located
  • What’s in the hopper – what critical tasks you need to and will complete before you leave and some of the things you’ve been assigned that aren’t mission-critical
  • Due dates that have already been agreed upon
  • Who you have worked with to handle specific tasks during the handoff
  • Recommendations (if you have any) for team members or others who might be a good fit for your role

Best practice: Create an exit strategy resignation message or short document for your manager and/or co-workers.

 

Resigning is never the easiest moment in your career, but you can make it go smoothly and transition into a new opportunity while maintaining your integrity and professionalism.

-Jill