How To Resign Without Burning Bridges

Sep 9, 2017

Resigning positively is a skill worth learning. In some cases it can be a challenge making it through without ‘letting loose’ about the actual reasons.

Here are some thoughts to consider when you are about to resign from your job.

You should never:

  • Make it personal. A resignation usually occurs because of a career move or perhaps because you no longer share the values of your current employer. Or maybe you have decided to start your own business. Whatever the reason, it should never be personal; it is a professional decision and should be treated as such. This is not your chance to vent.
  • Use your resignation as a threat. Nobody is indispensible. Never hold a company to ransom in order to get what you want, by serving an ultimatum in the form of a resignation. In most cases this won’t work. If you threaten to resign you better be ready to actually leave.
  • Assume your resignation is confidential. Most industries are incestuous communities, everyone knows everyone. So letting loose and telling people what you really think about your former employer (and specific ex-collegues) may be cathartic, but it will most likely damage your reputation and career prospects far more than your ex-employers reputation, so keep your issues to yourself.

You should instead:

  • Use fact-based professional language in both written and verbal communication.
  • Have an informal chat about your upcoming resignation with your superior before you actually resign. Treat them and the company with the same respect with which you wish to be treated.
  • Prepare your reasons for leaving before you go in for the chat. Whilst you legally don’t have to provide reasons, you can expect your reasons to be part of the conversation.
  • After the personal chat, present a written letter of resignation covering the great opportunity and positives of your role, confirmation of your notice period and cover any contractual points that may have been in your contract or agreement, such as return of company property and confidentiality.
  • Give the company the required notice and offer an exit strategy that assists the company to transition you out and your replacement in.

Leave a positive last impression as that might be the first thing a potential new employer will hear about you.