How to Resign From Your Role, Without Burning Bridges

Leaving a job can be an exciting and often daunting step in your career.

On average, most people will have at least 12 different jobs throughout their lives.

This means there’s a good chance you’ll need to deal with the complexity of a resignation meeting at some point. Whether you’re going back to school or moving onto new pastures, it’s important to approach this conversation with the right mindset.

Preparing for your resignation meeting correctly ensures you retain crucial professional relationships, preserve your professional brand and avoid missing out on new opportunities.

Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your resignation meeting.

Understand the Importance of the Resignation Meeting

A resignation meeting is important to both you and your employer.

This conversation allows you to end your relationship with your manager and the company on good terms. It’s also a chance for your employer to collect useful feedback from you.

During a resignation meeting, you may be asked about your reasons for leaving, which could help improve the company culture for future employees.

A resignation meeting can be difficult and nerve-wracking, but it’s crucial to preserving your reputation. Approach the conversation with gratitude and positivity and your old employer is more likely to vouch for you in the future.

Plan Your Timing and Approach

The first step in preparing for an effective resignation meeting is planning your timing and approach. The right time to speak to your employer can vary depending on the business structure. It’s worth checking your contract or employee manual for insights into a notice period.

Most employers will request you work your notice, depending on your role, before you resign, but if you have a complex role, which requires you to train or support a replacement employee, you may need to give it more time.

Once you’ve chosen the right timing, craft your resignation letter. This should outline all the information your employer needs, such as when your last day will be, how you’ll contribute to the transition process and what holidays you have remaining.

It should also thank your employer for the experience they’ve given you. Show gratitude even if you’re leaving a workplace due to a poor company culture or problematic management.

Next, decide how you’re going to handle the meeting. A face-to-face interaction is best, as it shows respect for your leader.

However, if you can’t find an appropriate time for an in-person meeting, a video meeting or call is an alternative. Avoid resigning by email; it really is poor form and might even get missed.

Gather the Necessary Information

Once you’ve written your resignation letter and arranged a meeting with your first-line manager, the next step is gathering the right documents and information you’ll need to leave your job. Depending on your role, this could involve:

  • Filling out forms: Many employers will require you to fill out forms outlining the details of your contract’s end. You may also need to request forms to roll your health insurance or pension plan over to your new employer.
  • Passing over work: If you’ve been working on an incomplete project or have access to crucial business documents, you’ll need to pass these to a new staff member before you leave to ensure the business doesn’t suffer.
  • Following policies: Depending on your company, you may need to adhere to specific legal obligations, like signing a non-disclosure agreement before you leave. Check your employee contract or handbook for extra guidance.

It’s also worth collecting any information that might be useful to your employer. For instance, if you’ve been asked to participate in an “exit interview”, ensure you’re prepared to share insights on the positive and negative aspects of being part of the team.

Anticipate Reactions and Prepare Responses

Your decision to resign could hit your manager harder than you’d think. Losing your expertise and talent can stir up emotions even if you don’t believe you’ve developed much of a personal relationship with your business leaders.

There’s a good chance your boss will have questions about why you’re leaving, what might have convinced you to stay and even what you’re going to do next. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to provide information about your next employer.

However, preparing to respond to the questions your manager might ask during the resignation meeting is helpful. Be ready to explain why you’re leaving and share constructive criticism if asked for it. For instance, you might note that your new job gives you more opportunities to work flexibly or that it’s better aligned with your career goals.

Avoid using the resignation meeting to highlight everything wrong with your old employer’s company. Don’t tell them the work environment is toxic or that you have a terrible relationship with your manager unless it’s absolutely necessary to the discussion.

Be Prepared for a Counteroffer

Sometimes, if your employer is keen to keep you on the team, they might propose a counteroffer during your resignation meeting. They could promise extra benefits, a higher salary, or even more flexibility with your working hours and location.

It’s important to plan how you will respond to a counteroffer. Before you go into the meeting, decide whether you’re committed to leaving the business, regardless of what your old employer promises to give you.

Think about your career goals and motivations for leaving the role in the first place and ask yourself whether the benefits provided by the counteroffer address all the problems you’re facing. If you’re committed to leaving, politely decline the offer and thank your boss.

Discuss Transition and Handover Plans

Your team members and your replacement in the business will need to absorb the work you’re leaving behind when you go. That’s why ensuring you have a plan to make the transition as simple as possible is important.

Ensuring your team members have everything they need to thrive in your absence will ensure your resignation doesn’t majorly impact business performance. It can also help you to maintain stronger relationships with your professional network.

Decide how to transfer knowledge, documents, accounts and projects to other team members. Consider acting as a mentor to your replacement for the last couple of weeks and ensure your employer can reach you if they encounter problems.

During the transitional period preserve positive relationships with your team and set up strategies for keeping in touch. Maintaining these professional connections will help you to grow in the future.

Take the Right Approach to the Resignation Meeting

A resignation meeting can be a daunting experience. However, it’s important to approach it with the right mindset. Maintain a constant air of professionalism and gratitude when speaking to your managers and team members. Tell them you’ve appreciated their support and guidance over the years and preserve those essential relationships.

Maintaining the right attitude and following the steps in this guide will ensure you can confidently approach your resignation meeting and start the next stage of your life on good terms.

Remember, a good resignation meeting reflects well on you as an employee and leaves a positive lasting impression that helps enhance your professional reputation.

Neil Scarborough

Managing Director

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition, and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for almost a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top tier candidates.

If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email neil@therecruitingoffice.co.uk

Further reading:

 Why Your Personal Appearance Can Power Up Your Career

Using Morning Routines to Set Yourself Up For Career Success