You’ve decided to leave your job. Go you! The road to resignation is littered with potholes and obstacles, so for a smooth ride to Quitsville take on our tips on how to resign gracefully. 

Sure, telling your employer to get stuffed in no uncertain terms might be satisfying, but the consequences are fairly far-reaching and industries can be small, particularly in New Zealand. People talk. You might become a legend down at the pub for doing so, but if you take this path you’re most certainly burning that bridge for future references and useful contacts. Local industry experts tell me how you exit a role has such an important bearing on how you move forward professionally, so proceed mindfully.

Firstly, you need to announce the news to your boss. No matter your feelings about them or the company they deserve this courtesy, and it will leave a much better taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s completely up to you whether you tell them where you’re moving on to, but they’ll find out eventually, and it’s probably better that it comes from you. If it’s a personal reason you’d rather wasn’t shared – say, family or health problems – discretion will be key and together you can work out an approach of what to tell your co-workers.

Definitely don’t wuss out and do it by text. Yes, the thought of telling your manager you are leaving can be intimidating, but pull up your big kid pants and get it done in person. It can be nerve-wracking, but it’s necessary. And you’re not the first person to have ever resigned, so rest assured it’s not their first ride at this particular rodeo.

Your only excuse not to get it done face to face is geographical distance, and even then a phone call should be your first port of call. 

Although you’re breaking the news face to face, a resignation letter is still an integral part of the process. How to write a resignation letter? Put it this way, waffles are best left for Sundays. Keep it succinct. Explain why you’re leaving, express appreciation for the opportunity, and state the date on which you’ll finish up work. It doesn’t have to be any more than that.

It’s important to give a notice period as agreed to in your employment contract, the rest can be by negotiation. You can imagine employers don’t care for someone leaving a note on their desk and never coming back, slinking off like a thief in the night.

Part of the importance of this notice period is keeping yourself available for a comprehensive handover. Leaving someone in the lurch is never appreciated, no matter how big your team is. Make yourself available to tie off loose ends, let clients and contacts know what’s happening, and onboard your replacement if required.

You may or may not get walked off the job the day you announce your news if you’re moving on to work with a direct competitor. This is at the discretion of your manager, so if you’re expecting a paid month off and you don’t get it, don’t sulk. People notice. And yes, you still have to work in the time you have left.

If walking from the premises you may immediately be cut off from all work emails and your mobile phone number, and be forced to return all company property – phones, cars and computers. It shouldn’t need saying that you need to return company property in good condition and without a fight.

If you don’t want anyone within your organisation looking through your personal emails, photos or music files delete them before handing back any device.

Remember: taking intellectual property or confidential company information without permission is not only seriously frowned upon, but it can also land you in a whole lot of hot water legally. Plus, anything you access or download from company servers is traceable. 

Every day at this place of work may have been a journey into the pits of hellish tedium for you, but try not to slag the place off before or after you’ve gone. Your soon to be former co-workers are staying there, so they won’t appreciate it. If it gets back to your former employer, even after you’ve left, there could be serious repercussions. Stay professional. Sure, it’s boring advice, but it’s good advice for a reason. 

Future employers may informally approach past ones and can also search for you on social media. If you appear obviously disgruntled, aggressive, ready to point the finger or full of complaints that will be the impression of you people will be left with and be ready to pass on. First impressions count, but so do final ones. If you feel underappreciated or in the midst of a hostile work environment just attempt to keep it professional and interaction to the bare minimum.

If you hold your head up, keep things amicable and don’t lie resignation should be a breeze. Then before you know it you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy that staff farewell party with everything you’ve got!

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