Resigning is an inevitable part of employment especially for Millennials, who on average change jobs 3 times more than other generations according to a recent Gallup report . Having said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states Baby Boomers did just as much job-hopping in their respective 20s as Millennials do these days (so no generational hateration here!)
Anywho, there are major benefits to job hopping including increasing your pay, speeding up career advancement, better work/life balance as well as influencing work culture in general. However, resigning correctly is critical to your continued career success so without further delay here are 6 steps to do just that!
1. Overcome the anxiety of resigning
Acknowledge and adjust your professional conditioning. It’s totally acceptable for a company to fire you on the spot but it’s considered unprofessional for you to quit without giving two weeks notice. That’s because it’s in the best interest of companies for it to work that way.
Companies put themselves first and want you to do the same so they create a professional culture that values what’s in their interests and vilifies what’s in yours. Thus, before resigning it’s natural to feel guilty about ‘abandoning,’ your team or responsibilities.
But please understand these emotions are generally conditioned responses to what you’ve been told is or is not professional. They are the result of society conditioning you to put the needs of your company before your own. But just like a company doesn’t feel bad about firing an employee that no longer meets their needs don’t you shed a tear about ‘firing,’ a company that no longer meets yours.
Write down EXACTLY what you feel anxious and/or guilty about. Writing your feelings down is a great way to see how irrational your fears or guilt can be. After you write them down respond to each with what you’re going to do about it.
- What if my boss flips out on me? It will be uncomfortable for a minute but I can handle it. After she yells, I’ll just report her to HR, and I’m quitting anyway so who cares what she thinks.
- I feel guilty about abandoning my team with my work. That’s a natural part of the job, people quit all the time but I’ll work to complete my projects, train my colleagues on what I do and refer someone who’ll be a great replacement for me.
Learn to accept what you can’t change or control. You can’t control everything, including your bosses/colleagues reaction to your resignation. And you might not have a perfect resignation but if you can learn to do your best and ACCEPT the rest you’ll be way more comfortable throughout this process. Checkout this great video on Acceptance for more info.
2. Prepare for the worst case scenario
No plan survives contact with reality so it’s essential to have flexibility built into any approach you decide on. In reference to resigning, employers have been known to dismiss employees who resign immediately upon receiving their resignation. Meaning you’re out of a job now rather than having those last two weeks at your job. This is relatively uncommon in my experience but it does happen for a plethora of reasons including security, policy or just for spite but you’re still out of a job two weeks earlier than you expected.
- Make sure you have enough money saved to carry you through those two weeks before resigning
- Make sure you delete, copy or transfer anything you need from your work computer before resigning
- Collect any work samples you need before resigning
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3. Prepare BEFORE announcing your resignation
- Don’t announce your resignation on any social media platforms until after you officially leave your job. Things change and you want to have all your options open
- Do research on the resignation process within your company (your rights, their policies, things you need to complete)
- Research about transferring your 401k, company stocks, or benefits and if possible start the transfer process before announcing your resignation
- Determine if you need employment verification letters and learn what the process is
- Update your Resume with your achievements (it can be hard to remember what you did after leaving the job so do this asap
4. Prepare what you’re going to say
Resigning can be an anxiety inducing feat, especially if you’re young and haven’t done it before, this is normal. You can reduce your anxiety by writing down what you’re going to say to your manager and practicing it (even take your notes with you to the resignation meeting). You want this conversation to be face to face with your manager out of professional courtesy and maturity.
Overall you may want to cover the below in your conversation:
- Thank your manager for the opportunity to work there
- Say how you’ve learned a lot
- Give a high level reason for leaving
- Be clear so nothing can be misinterpreted
Ask to speak with your manager alone (I prefer to have this conversations after lunch because it enables me to go home in a few hours in case anybody doesn’t take it well)
Typical pleasantries (how are you, how was your weekend, etc.)
“So [Manager name], [reason] you know the commute to and from work has really gotten stressful for me, I’ve tried to adjust what I could but I’m pretty exhausted and I don’t think it’s health for me anymore. It’s primarily for that reason that I’ll be resigning from [Company Name].
[Thanks and platitudes] I want to sincerely thank you for the opportunity for work with you and learn from you. I’ve learned and grown a lot here. [Reinforce reason] But I’ve decided it would be best for me to work a little closer to home. I’m more than willing to help train other employees on my role and/or write a procedure document with my job responsibilities to smooth out the transition but this is my official two weeks notice. So couple quick questions; who else should I notify? And what are the next steps?”
5. Prepare yourself for their response
Resigning, just like relationship break ups differ drastically in intensity. Some are clean cut and relatively painless while others are… shall we say more involved. Either way you should prepare yourself for an atypical response.
- Decide ahead of time what you’ll do if your employer flips out, yells, or gets aggressive. Contacting HR? Stale face, walking out, going to their superior? Make sure to have a plan to address inappropriate behavior from management.
- Resigning can offer you a good bit of leverage for negotiating if you so desire. So determine if you’re flexible in your resignation if you’re offered some form of incentive.
- Determine what incentive you’ll ask for (if any) in order for you to stay (a raise, remote work, changing positions, etc.)
6. Add the MOST value you’ve ever added in your last 2 weeks
A GREAT movie can be RUINED if it has a shitty ending. Likewise, a stellar career/job performance can be ruined if the final two weeks are trash. Conversely, a shitty career/job performance can be bolstered significantly with a great ending as well.
So be sure to plan out how you can make your last two weeks phenomenal for your employer. This is critical as you have no idea when you’ll need a referral or reference, if you’ll need to come back or if a current manager will go to another company you’re interested in.
Here are some ways to do that
- Help prepare your employer for your transition by offering to train people on your role
- Refer a good replacement if you know one
- Write our detailed instructions for your role including where all your files are located
- Solidify your important/key relationships (final happy hours, lunches or meetings)
- Send a memorable final goodbye email
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What else would you add to this list?
- Need help with your Resume? Download my free Resume Review Checklist here.
- Grab my resignation letter template here