Regardless of your reasons for leaving your job, it’s very important not to burn your bridges. Executive coach and psychologist Lindiwe Mkhondo says the job market might seem large, but you shouldn’t fool yourself.
“The world is circular. It’s very possible that you may need or encounter your previous employer in the future, so an amicable departure is important for securing a professional reputation,” she says.
Mkhondo adds that the most common mistakes people make when resigning is putting their feelings first and reacting impulsively. “Failure to think rationally, to reason, problem solve and plan will result in failing to explore your options systematically. Very often people consider the financial and career implications of resigning and fail to consider the emotional, social and physical impact.
Mkhondo offers the following tips for resigning gracefully:
Resign for the right reasons
If you are leaving for another job, ensure that you have finalised your contract, start date and offer letter before you resign. Never make the irrational decision to resign on the spot. First weigh up the pros and cons and consider your steps moving forward.
Write your resignation letter
Your resignation letter should be a succinct, professional letter that expresses your gratitude for the opportunities your company has provided you with. Include the date of your departure.
Resign in person
Don’t tell any of your colleagues, as your boss deserves to hear it from you first. If you can, it’s important to resign and present your resignation letter in person. If you can’t do it in person, a telephone call or an email would suffice. Consider what your response would be should your boss ask you why you are leaving and where you are headed next. Always keep your responses positive.
Break the news to your colleagues
Discuss with your manager how you will inform your co-workers. Suggest that you tell your colleagues individually in your own time. Ensure that your reasons for leaving, and your future plans are consistent and upbeat. Don’t complain about your current job or boss as this will make you look bitter and unprofessional.
Transfer your responsibilities
Ensure that you give adequate notice or stick to your prescribed notice period. Develop a strategy for handing over responsibilities and current work. It’s important to work with your colleagues to ensure that no work is left unfinished.
Don’t burn your bridges
Focus on the legacy you want to leave behind: how do you want to be remembered? Start acknowledging the positive experiences you have had and experience gratitude within. Focus on making your final weeks pleasant and professional.
Inform your customers, mentors and sponsors
It’s important to inform external parties when you will be leaving and who they can liaise with once you’ve left.
Clear your workspace
It’s unprofessional to expect others to remove your personal belongings or clean your workspace once you’ve left. Ensure that you leave your office or desk ready for the next person.
Give your best
Don’t slack off in your last days at the office. It’s important to give it your all, to remain professional and assist in a smooth transition. When you leave, do it in a way that will leave your boss happy to give you a positive reference or welcome you back.