Leaving well

When handing in their resignation letter, many people are tempted to tell their boss exactly what they think of them, now that they are leaving the company. However, there is a real "art" to resigning well, ensuring your long-term career does not suffer for some personal short-term gain.

Don't burn bridges

If you have decided to resign from your job, it's important to craft a professional and friendly resignation letter. When I left a major corporate to found my own consultancy in a different industry, my boss was so impressed with my resignation letter, she gave me six months of part-time contract work while I got my new business up and running. Therefore, ensure your resignation letter has the following key points highlighted:


The first paragraph should point out the reason you are leaving (be as positive as possible) and the official leaving date, as per your contract.

Paragraph two should thank the company for any learning opportunities you have been given, as well as highlighting areas where you have grown, both personally and professionally.

The third paragraph communicates you are keen to assist in the smooth transition between staff members in any way you can. If you are able, create a hand-over sheet, ensuring critical job-related information is communicated clearly, and can be used by the new team member as a reference tool as they start in your old role.

No (or at least limited) negativity

Try not to be negative in your letter, however if you feel there are some key points that need to be bought up about leadership styles or other team members, its best to have a professional and direct discussion with the HR department during your exit interview, rather than leave a scathing personal attack that only your manager will read and then bin.

The last month

As an employer, I had a terrible experience many years ago, where a very good and highly competent team member handed in his resignation letter, then proceeded to turn up late and was disengaged for the rest of the month. The problem for him was that when, a few of years later, his verbal referees came calling me a few years later for his next job, my enthusiasm was severely tainted by the behaviour over those last four weeks when he no longer felt any obligation towards me.

Once you have handed in your resignation, try to follow up in the spirit of the letter by offering further reasonable support to the new team member as and where you can. This is a critical time for the employer, as the employer/employee relationship is coming to an end, and many staff fall off the boil.


The art of the resignation

This is arguably one of the most critical career related moments you will ever have. Do it professionally, and you will improve the chances of being remembered well, ensuring positive verbal referees.

Contact Tom for a free LinkedIn or CV review, or to be your personal career coach. Visit www.CareerCoach.nz or www.CV.co.nz to find out more.