5 Tips for Resigning Without Burning Bridges
Make a graceful exit.
Quitting your job and moving on to your next opportunity is exciting, intimidating—and awkward, especially if you've never had a tough conversation like this with your boss. We consulted an expert on the topic to get her advice on resigning and leaving your company on good terms.
The Skill Set: How to Resign
1. Understand your employer’s policies
You saw the terms of your current role when you signed on the dotted line, but a refresh won’t hurt. “Look at the housekeeping notes, like when your benefits expire and make a plan of action before you leave," says Nicole Williams, founder and CEO of WORKS, a career brand dedicated to empowering professional women toward success. "Find out if you are supposed to be paid for unused vacation days and have a tally of them tracked so you know what you will earn." This way, there will be no surprises for either you or the company.
2. Tell your manager and write a resignation letter
Remember that a resignation letter is often more than just a courtesy. “Most companies state in their bylaws that employees need to have a formal resignation letter,” says Nicole. “I’d advise you to have one typed up in addition to sitting down with your manager to let them know you’ll be moving on,” she adds. This way, you’re providing HR with proof of your resignation but still respecting your manager.
3. Reach out to your team
Make time to tell the people you work closely with in person (after you've told your manager, of course), and send a note to your co-workers on your last day. This isn’t the time for generic statements about your departure, Nicole warns. “Sending out a more personalized email or LinkedIn message will do a whole lot more for your career in the long run. Relationships are the true strength of your career longevity. Don’t burn any bridges.”
4. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s
Nicole emphasizes the importance of doing what you can to make the transition seamless. “First and foremost, clean out your files. Next, create a step-by-step guide for everything you do, including any login information. Remember, the more you do before you leave, the less emails and calls you’ll be getting from your replacement once you’re gone,” she says. "If possible, walk your replacement through the processes, introduce them to clients and have them sit in on your meetings. If not, at least verbally go over everything with someone on your team so it is clear.”
4. Nail your exit interview
The exit interview can make or break the impression you leave on the company. “You always want to leave a job on a positive note, especially when you are working in a small industry and your paths will cross with your former coworkers," Nicole says. She warns against giving any criticism that may harm your reputation, even if you’re unhappy in your job. “Instead, say you are looking for new challenges, which, more often than not, is the reason for finding a new job.”