By Marga Salvador on June 6, 2016
Everyone seeks a greener pasture and if that pasture happens to be a new job, then by all means walk towards it. If that pasture means taking a break from work and figuring things out, again, walk on. But if that pasture is currently blockaded by a fence a.k.a. your current job then we have some work to do first.
No one looks forward to writing and submitting a resignation letter, it puts an invisible weight on your shoulders that stays there until your two weeks notice is up. Handing the letter in and packing up your space is awkward and sometimes painful but the process shouldn't be like ripping off a bandaid. Slow and steady wins the race, or in this case, quits with grace. This is how you resign from your job with finesse:
1. Make sure your new job is locked and loaded
Before you even think about how to send your letter, be sure that you've already received a letter and formal offer from the company you are moving to. No, a verbal offer is not enough. Whether you realize it or not, your resignation is going to affect more than just your manager and you don't want to shake the boat unless you know for sure that you are jumping ship. Once the new company makes an offer, take time to negotiate your salary and benefit package, get your contract, and sign it. This is the first step in moving out.
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2. Take initiative to start the transition process
Now that your space and responsibilities will be vacated, you need to help your soon-to-be previous company ease into the hole you're about to leave. Make a list of your tasks and responsibilities and think about who and how they can be taken over after you leave. Do not delegate tasks. This is a suggestion list for you to give to your manager. It's also a peace offering.
3. Tell your manager before anyone else
Even if you have a best friend at the office, you owe your manager this one. S/he deserves to be the first one to know because the decision as to how to tell the rest of the department or company has to involve him. You might also want to think about what you will do if your manager responds with a counter offer to make you stay. If your new job is locked in, this shouldn't be a problem but there's always that possibility that your manager offers you more...
4. Do it in person and bring ammunition
Tell your manager first but also do it face to face. You owe them this one. Of course, you can send an email but we're talking about resigning with finesse here. Courtesy is key. Set a meeting with your manager in a private space and don't come empty handed. You should have prepared your resignation letter beforehand and have it in hand when you finally tell your manager.
5. Make time for this
Most people will worry and flail over what a horrible employee they are for abandoning the company to the point that they run out of time to be polite about it. Stop wasting time on that. Regardless of whether the company norm is two weeks or 30 days notice, as soon as you have the security of Step 1, you have to plan the rest of your resignation. If you have a complex and interdependent job, the transition will be more arduous. You need to be considerate of the situation and have ample time to leave as little disarray as possible.
6. Work as hard as you can until your last day
After you have a solid date to be known as "your last day", get as much as you can done until then. It will help with the transition and it shows your soon-to-be previous company that you still care and that just because you're really leaving, it doesn't mean you want to leave them hanging. You don't have to do the double time at this point, it's not required of you but we're going for finesse here, remember. Even if you are leaving, you want to soften the blow while you still can.
7. Keep in touch
Let's keep the bad blood to a minimum, yes? Of course, not everyone is going to be happy about you leaving but the greener pastures await. Even though you'll be looking across the other side of the fence now, be a good sport and say hey once in a while. It's the polite and humanly decent thing to do. As much as possible, you want to leave on good terms in case you want a reference or the safety net of future re-employment with them. You never know when you'll need them again.
Now, you've got your new job, your old one is taken care of, and you have a new beginning to look forward to. Good luck, soldier!