There are right and wrong ways of resigning from your job. Get it wrong and there could be negative feelings between you and your employer, repercussions and a bad reference. Get it right, and you could actively enhance both your personal and career development.
Consider your options
Judging the right time to quit involves a variety of considerations. To begin with, why do you think you want to leave? Is it money, opportunity, the scope of your job, a missed promotion, location, or something more personal? If you have a workable relationship, always talk these things through with your boss or the HR head before making a final decision.
Discuss your situation and feelings with friends and family, or anyone in a professional role that you can trust. Most of all, listen to your own feelings. In the end, it's your life and you're the one who will have to live with the consequences of your decision.
Letting them know
When you've made your mind up, take a look through your contract and company handbook to see what specific procedures your employer has in place. Make sure you're aware of the length of the notice period you are required to work. If you don't have a formal period of notice in your contract, try to allow at least two weeks for the handover period as a sign of good will.
As well as having an official resignation letter, it's common courtesy to speak to your boss in person about your intentions to leave. Work out what you're going to say and stick to it. They may try to dig for more information, so be certain what information you're willing to divulge. There are many impulsive reactions that you could face, so be prepared.
There's a possibility your boss may try to make you stay – finding a replacement will be a hassle – so be clear of your position and present rational responses. If you would consider sticking around, give them a deadline of when you would need their counter-offer by.
Consider this carefully, and think what it involves. It may be a salary hike, a promotion, or a move to another location. Does any of this change anything? Will you retain or enhance your standing in the company, or will there always be a shadow hanging over you?
On the other hand, your boss could take your exit as a personal insult. Unless you've made your intentions obvious, it's likely to come as a surprise and you may find them getting confrontational or even aggressive. Retain your composure and diffuse the situation by offering to help in the handover process and reassure your boss that you will leave any loose ends tied up before you go.
Always be as positive as you can about your time at the company. You never know when your paths might cross again so there's no point making unnecessary enemies or burn any bridges.
Telling your colleagues
You may initially be put in a situation where you're asked not to disclose your desire to leave from your colleagues, clients and suppliers. This is done to limit the potential impact it might have on the company both internally and externally. They can't expect it to stay a secret forever though, and if you've already told a few close comrades, it's likely to spread on the office grapevine anyway.
When you do tell them, it's a chance to state your reasons clearly before it gets mangled up in the gossip factory. Again, avoid saying anything negative about the company or anyone within it. Always leave on an up-beat note, you may come across your colleagues at an industry event, at a future employer or even as a future client and you want them to remember you favourably.
Get what you're owed
Ensure that you get any outstanding bonuses, commission, holiday pay, time off in lieu, or any other benefits you're due. Your HR department should be able to pull all this information together for you so make sure you request it as soon as possible so any discrepancies can be disputed.