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You have reached a crossroads in your career, and you have begun researching how to tell your boss you want to resign.
Whether you are leaving for a new position, launching your own business in Singapore, or taking time off, you need to know what to say when you quit your job to end things on the best possible terms.
If there is one word to keep top of mind when quitting your job, it should be respect.
Just as it is common wisdom that you need to make a good impression during a job interview, it is an equally good idea on the other end to leave your current position on a high note.
How to tell your boss you want to resign
The way an employee quits can impact their future career opportunities.
So, we will start with some "do nots" when quitting your job:
- Do not make a rash decision
- Do not tell your boss last
- Do not leave others in the lurch
- Do not burn bridges
- Do not walk before you talk
While the emotions you experience about resigning may vary, from relief to dread to regret, there are standard procedures to follow.
As you think about how to quit a job — specifically, what to say — keep in mind that you should exit on the best possible terms.
Here are three things you will want to do in the event you decide to resign:
1. Speak with your manager
When it comes to delivering the news about quitting your job, do not let anyone get between you and your manager. You want to have control over that.
Letting the information reach them in any other way — through the department grapevine or office gossip, for instance — is unprofessional.
If a face-to-face meeting is not an option, set up a virtual meeting or call your manager on the phone. Email is a last resort but can be used when circumstances warrant.
If you are looking to quit your job, kick off your search for a new position with Robert Half. We can start your search for you as you prep for your last days.
2. Know what to say when resigning verbally
Be sure you know exactly what your message is before you approach your boss.
Even if you are leaving on good terms, the conversation could be awkward and difficult. You do not want to stumble over your words.
So, take the time to know what to say when resigning verbally to avoid any issues.
At the same time, you want to be firm in your decision and prepared for any potential questions or objections your manager brings up:
- Are you prepared to say no to a counteroffer?
- What if your manager asks you to reconsider and suggests picking up the conversation in a few days?
- What if they get emotional? (It could happen, especially if you are a key member of the team, or you have a close relationship with your boss.)
Keep the meeting professional and, above all, do not give in to the urge to vent any frustrations.
While it may be fun to fantasise about making a dramatic exit, getting creative when quitting your job is not recommended.
3. Put your resignation in writing
Even after speaking to your boss about leaving, it is wise to put it in writing as well (email is fine, but hard copy is better). A resignation letter ensures there will be no confusion about the date you gave notice and the timing of your departure. Many companies include a copy of your resignation letter in your HR folder as final documentation.
Your resignation letter should be brief and include the following information:
- The date of the last day you plan to work — The standard for advance notice is no less than two weeks. If you are in a senior position or special circumstances apply, such as a deadline for a major project, you may want to offer to stay longer.
- A short explanation of why you are resigning — When explaining why you are quitting your job, it is OK to keep things general and say something like, “I am leaving to accept a position at another company.” You do not have to go into more detail than you are comfortable with, even if your manager presses you for additional information. If you are leaving a job that does not suit you or because of issues you have had with the firm, keep your explanation vague rather than going negative. It is acceptable to say you are resigning “for personal reasons.”
- A few words of thanks — Even the most trying jobs have their bright spots. While gratitude is not mandatory, this is an excellent time to take the high road and extend a thank-you to the organisation. You might say, "Thank you for employing me and helping me along my career path."
Always leave on a professional note
Your final days at the company are no time to tune out.
Leave on a high note by sharing information with your colleagues about your projects and clients. Document any processes you have found useful for those who come after you.
Knowing how to tell your boss you want to resign and being respectful — even if your work experience has not been completely positive — allows you to maintain relationships and preserve professional references.
A good attitude will help leave the door open to returning to your current employer should an attractive position come up there in the future.
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