Business woman has a brown cardboard box next to her and hands a letter of resignation to a seated businessman sitting at his desk.

Resigning

remain respectful and professional; leave your reputation intact

Tendering your resignation can be the most challenging aspect of the job changing process; especially where strong connections have been forged with your employer and colleagues.

Mixed emotions
    • There are a number of things to bear in mind to make resigning a little easier.

    • Don't be surprised if temporarily, the elation of securing your new job turns into an anti-climax.

    • You may feel a little flat at the prospect of resigning / after resigning.

    • The thought of leaving colleagues, friends and familiar surroundings behind can be a little daunting.

    • Remember the valid reasons you started to look for another job in the first instance; it's unlikely that these reasons have changed, so don't feel guilty about resigning.

When to tender your resignation
    • Make sure you are absolutely certain that leaving your current employer is what you want to do as the option to change your mind may not exist.

    • Once you have decided to leave and have accepted your new offer of employment, it's best to tackle the resignation process as quickly as possible - the more you let it drag, the harder it will be.

How to resign
    • Prepare a short, polite letter of resignation, if possible outlining your understanding of your notice period and any sums due to you under company bonus schemes or holiday accrued.

    • Then arrange a meeting with your line manager or HR officer as soon as possible.

    • Be ready to discuss your reasons for wanting to leave, but avoid making these personal – after all, you will still require a reference.

    • Remain composed if you are interrogated and do not become emotional, defensive or confrontational.

    • Remember, your employer may be absorbing the impact of this unexpected announcement and will be considering the impact it would make to the business. Stress that you will help with any handover requirements to lessen the effects.

    • Finally, remember to thank the employer for the opportunities they presented to you.

The exit interview
    • During your exit interview, there is a good chance that your resignation will have been a surprise to your employer who may react in a variety of different ways.

    • If you are calm but firm in the delivery of your resignation, the process should go smoothly, and it is likely that you will be able to leave on good terms with a good reference, which you ought to ask for during the meeting.

Techniques designed to prevent you from leaving
    • Your employer may attempt to counter your resignation and persuade you to stay using a number of retention techniques:

    • Offering you a promotion
      • You may be promised a promotion within the next 2 – 6 months to entice you to stay.

      • What you need to consider is that if it takes your resignation to win the promotion, then can you really view it as a promotion on merit?

      • Will you have to resign again to get your next promotion?

      • This is very flattering to your ego but very rarely changes the reasons why you may have wanted to leave.

    • The counter-offer
      • Your current employer may offer you more money in an effort to entice you to stay - sometimes more than you are offered by the prospective employer.

      • It’s necessary to realise that people very rarely leave a job because of poor pay alone.

      • It is usually because of a number of factors, and getting an instant pay rise will not change the other reasons you wanted to leave.

      • If you accept and stay, your employer is unlikely to maintain the level of trust or respect they had for you, and it may be a long time before your next pay rise or promotion.

      • Please refer to our in-depth guide to counter-offers.

    • Questioning your choice of employer
      • Your current employer may attempt to cast aspersions on your prospective employer by bringing into question aspects such as integrity, business model, management style, market potential, your career prospects with them etc.

      • The likelihood is that casting such aspersions is just an attempt to put doubt in your mind.

      • If this tactic appears to work and you do have any doubts at all then speak to us, and we can answer your reservations or put you in touch with your new employer to answer them directly.

      • Remember that you liked the new company enough to accept their offer, so it is unlikely that there will be any genuine major issues to be addressed.

    • Emotional pressure
      • Some employers may be so keen to keep you that they may even apply emotional pressure in an attempt to persuade you to stay.

      • Examples include such things as pointing out how difficult, expensive or time consuming it will be to replace you.

      • Just remember that if they had looked after you in the first instance, you wouldn't find yourself in this situation.

      • They may also try to threaten you with non-payment of bonus, salary or other benefits.

      • In this case, the threats are likely to be in contravention of employment law which is there to protect you.

      • If in doubt, seek legal advice and, in any case, do you want to continue working for a company that takes such an approach?

    • Immediate dismissal
      • In some instances, perhaps when you are joining a competitor, you will be asked to leave immediately.

      • Some employers have even been known to escort employees off-premises.

      • Often such tactics are more for the benefit of other employees, in an attempt to dissuade them from doing similar, and at times we have come across candidates that have a real fear for this.

      • Don't be fearful or even dejected at this prospect.

      • If it were to come to this, then this is probably the best all-round result.

      • Remember to ensure that you agree your severance terms before leaving.

    • Garden leave
      • Garden (or gardening) leave is the term given to a situation where you are required to serve out a period of notice at home.

      • During this period you will continue to receive all salary and benefits but are prohibited from commencing employment with your new employer until the gardening leave period has expired.

      • It is a practice which employers often adopt if you have a certain status within the company, particularly when you have access to confidential information or customers and where you are leaving to join a competitor.

      • During the gardening leave period, your access to such information or customers will either be restricted or denied.

    • Succumbing to techniques designed to prevent you from leaving
      • Overall, our experience shows us that people succumbing to any of the above techniques and staying with their current employer have a likelihood as high as 72% of voluntarily leaving within six months of agreeing to stay because of unfulfilled promises.

      • A high proportion of the remainder of employees subsequently have their contracts terminated within six months thereafter.

      • This means that you will find yourself in a situation where you have missed out on the golden opportunity in front of you and have to start your search all over again.

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Next: Counter-offer guide