People Who Quit Their Jobs Gracefully Make Sure They Do These 6 Things


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Maddie McElhenny via SharpHeels
Maddie McElhenny via SharpHeels
June 23, 2024 at 11:19AM UTC
I recently resigned from my job of two and a half years at a Fortune 50 company. Every day for two and a half years, I struggled to feel motivated and engaged in my work. It was simply not the right fit for me. In my position, I had spent a lot of my nights and weekends networking and searching for other positions, but I didn’t have a clear direction or vision. I realized that I needed to take some time for myself to discover what I really wanted to do instead, and that is exactly what I did – I resigned without having another opportunity. It was my first time leaving a job in this way, but I knew that I wanted to maintain my positive reputation, leave on my own terms, and not sever any relationships I had built. In the end, I succeeded.
Here is how to resign the right way and walk out the door for the very last time on a positive, liberating, empowering note.

1. Plan it out.

Put some thought into when and how you are going to resign. Draft a script of what you’re going to say and recite it as many times as it takes to get comfortable. Anticipate any questions you may get ahead of time, such as “Where are going next?” and “Why did you decide to resign now?” Draft your resignation letter if your employer requires one. Prepare a response in the event that your boss counteroffers your resignation with a promotion or another perk to get you to stay. Above all, make sure that you know what will be best for you in this transition.

2. Notify your boss in person.

Resigning is not an easy thing to do, but doing so over a face-to-face conversation shows boldness, respectfulness and maturity. We all know how many misunderstandings and miscommunications can occur over email or the phone, and being there in person is the best way to ensure that the conversation goes as planned. Go into your supervisor’s office and tell him or her in person. You will feel so much better for having done it this way, and your boss will be that much more appreciative of the way you went about doing it. Of course, in some work environments a face-to-face meeting cannot happen, in which case a video or phone call is the next best thing.

3. Give appropriate notice. 

As soon as you feel ready, communicate your decision to your supervisor. While giving two weeks’ notice is the standard, propose an end date to your boss that you think will meet both of your needs. If you’re resigning during a busy period, and you have time on your side, offer to stay on longer than two weeks in order to ease the transition. For example, when I told my boss I was resigning and presented my last day to be four weeks out, she asked me to stay on one more week, which I agreed to do. Not only was I happy to work with her timeline, but I also felt valued that she wanted me to stay longer. However, when some employers learn about your decision to leave the company, they may ask you leave immediately. You will need to be prepared to leave sooner than you expected — even that day. It’s important to know and gauge your company/organization policies, and make your decision about communicating your departure when it feels right to you.

4. Determine a transition plan together.

In addition to giving early notice, and without compromising your terms and conditions, make your transition as seamless as possible for your supervisor. One idea is to present your boss with a detailed timing and action plan of how you would prioritize and complete the necessary work until your last day. It shows your thoughtfulness, allows you to set the expectations of your last weeks, and gives your boss a chance to respond to something. If your boss plans to backfill your position, you can also offer to onboard your replacement if someone is hired prior to your departure. However, if the fate of your position is unknown, include a proposed transition plan for the bodies of work you own when you present it to your boss. 

5. Flatter and avoid blame. 

Keep your reasons for leaving positive and brief, and make sure that you don’t blame your experience on any one thing or person in particular. Emphasize that your reason for leaving is all about you — that the position was not the right fit for you and your career aspirations. If you would like to provide either positive or negative feedback, ask to have an exit interview with Human Resources. Be complimentary and express gratitude to your boss and your colleagues for having had the opportunity to work with them and learn from them. Remaining professional during your last weeks at work will help secure your positive reputation and future references for employment. 

6. Stay committed until the end. 

It’s easy to check out during a transition, but such behavior will not go unnoticed by your colleagues and could impact your ability to get positive references for future employment. It’s important to remain an active team player until you walk out of the office on your last day. Stick to the plan you agreed upon with your boss. Make time to appropriately say goodbye to colleagues and write handwritten notes or send out emails expressing gratitude and your desire to keep in touch. Don’t forget to include your contact information for future references and connections.
Resigning is not an easy thing to do. Be proud of yourself after you’ve done it. Walk out the door and own your future. Find what makes your heart tick and chase it.
This article originally was published on SharpHeels.

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