Exit Stage Left: How to Resign with Your Head Held High

January 25, 2017

So you’ve decided it’s time to move on from your current job. No matter the reason, sharing your resignation with your boss and co-workers can be thrilling, stressful, and even sad.

It’s important to remember that planning your exit strategy in a calm, diplomatic manner can only work in your favour. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider this transition step in your career.


1. Tell your direct manager first. Don’t let your boss find out through the company grapevine. He or she may feel blind-sided that you didn’t trust him or her, as the typical protocol is for the boss to announce your departure first. Be complimentary and appreciative — there is always something positive you can say about him, her, the company, what you learned, etc. If your experience wasn’t 100% positive, there were likely key learnings that you’re able to take away.

2. Don’t burn bridges. Share your news with your boss and colleagues in a quiet, positive, and humble way. While it is perfectly acceptable for you to be excited about what lies ahead, your team may not appreciate bragging about the future. You don’t want to give them the impression that you’re off to greener pastures while they are left behind.

3. Give ample notice. While two weeks is the norm and legal requirement in most jobs (review your employment contract and Alberta Employment Standards), offer more, if you can, as a sign of good faith and character. Try and negotiate this with your new employer — most will appreciate and respect your consideration.

4. Stay present until the end. Once you have made the decision to resign and everyone knows you are leaving, it can be easy to check out, but resist! Collaborate with your boss and team to determine the best way to tie up loose ends and help with the transition. Finish current projects, reply to correspondence promptly, and maintain your same level of engagement with your co-workers. Your team is relying on you — don’t let them down.

5. Offer to help train your replacement. While this may not always be possible, offering your assistance is another sign of good faith. This will help ease the transition and allow you to maintain a positive reputation. If training isn’t possible, keep detailed progress reports and notes so that the new hire isn’t in the dark on his or her first day.

6. Express gratitude. Even if you are happy to be leaving, show you are grateful for the things that went well. Expressing gratitude, such as a farewell card or thank you note, goes a long way and leaves a great impression. This goes hand-in-hand with not burning bridges and keeping doors open.

7. Keep the doors open and stay in touch. You have likely developed some strong friendships and business relationships in your role. Stay in touch with colleagues — you never know when you may run into them, work with them in the future, or need to rely on them for networking opportunities.

8. Prepare for an exit interview. Be positive, open, and honest about your role and how the company can help your replacement be successful. BUT, this isn’t the time to vent, be negative, or offer too many details about how the company can do better. Follow your interviewer’s lead and don’t dwell on negatives unless you’re able to offer practical and beneficial comments. Leave on a high note — remember your last impression will be the lasting one.


Post by Michelle Cook
Job Search Strategist
Calgary Career Counselling


Image from https://pextels.com


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