A guide to keeping it professional
Congratulations! If you've got this far you've obviously found yourself a role you want to accept. Before going any further you need to re-visit your reasons for leaving. Re-affirm that they are unchanged and that the role you have found is definitely for you. Once you have made the decision to move jobs and resigned, changing your mind could be a costly career mistake.
For most people the resignation is actually the most difficult stage of the entire process. You are severing links with a job that you are comfortable with and people that you have built up a bond of trust, comradeship and in many cases friendship with. This takes serious willpower – and is something your employer will use to try and make you change your mind.
Resigning from the company should be done in a professional and courteous manner. You should type a letter to your direct manager containing the date (for the point of resignation), the fact that you are resigning and your understanding of your notice period. Be sure to thank the company and your manager for the time and effort they have made for you personally, for your time at the company and if appropriate, offer them some sincere good wishes for the future.
Make sure you request a face to face meeting, in private to deliver the letter of resignation and have prepared what you are going to say. You must be professional and courteous at all times. It is best to say something like "An opportunity has come up that I cannot turn down".
Inevitably you will be asked why you are leaving. Do not be drawn into any kind of argument – no matter what your view of the firm, management or staff is. Stay professional at all times, regardless of how tempted you are to tell them what you really think! Nothing is wrong – just a great opportunity has come along.
Your manager will probably have been the person that hired you, trained you, supported and mentored you for your time at the firm. They will take your resignation personally, no matter what your actual reason for leaving is. Be prepared for any kind of reaction from a congratulatory handshake to outright anger, or worse – a guilt trip. Regardless of their reaction you must stay calm. You haven't done anything wrong and if they were in your shoes they would probably be doing the same thing! As satisfying as you might find it to really fight back, this won't do you any favours – in fact it will make things worse.
Having got through the initial stages your employer will almost certainly position a "counter-offer". This is an effort through increased salary or revised role duties to make you re-consider and stay. Rejecting a counter-offer will make your relations even more strained and it is important not to draw your employer towards thinking you will accept a counter-offer. You must be clear from the outset that you are leaving, tell them your decision is final. Remember your employer knows you and will be figuring out which buttons they need to press to get you to stay. This is not for your benefit and no matter how tempting it might seem, statistics prove time and again that people who accept counter offers are only deferring their problems – they end up leaving within a year to six months anyway.
See our important information here on Counter Offers
Remember that your time in the company during your notice period is vital. Do not bad mouth the company to anyone, many of your colleagues will want to use you or what you say as a message to the management – do not be drawn into any conversations. Keep your head down and your nose clean! You never know when you may cross paths with the management or co-workers again.
Stick to your line, be professional and courteous throughout your notice period, offer help with training – be a model employee. That way you will leave a good and lasting impression and will not be burning any bridges!