In today’s society, where a job is no longer guaranteed for life, handing in your notice is something many
people become accustomed to. But like most things, there are right and wrong ways to approach the
situation. When it comes to resigning consider the correct etiquette, how you will inform your employer
and dealing with second thoughts.
• In an ideal world, resigning from your job would be pleasant and straightforward. Your boss would
be understanding and supportive of your needs and no bad feelings would arise. The fact is, too
few employees experience such an easy ride.
• How you handle your resignation has an impact on your career. Conforming to the correct
etiquette can go a long way in ensuring confidence as your career develops; whereas approaching
your resignation in the wrong way could be detrimental to your immediate future. After all, a
good reference is not just valuable, but vital.
• Once you have made up your mind to resign, your most urgent task is to inform your manager. A
letter of resignation is the formal way to communicate your action and it acts as a legal document
stating the date from which you wish your notice period to begin.
• Informing your employer
• How you write your letter depends on the circumstances of your departure. A simple resignation
letter should include details of the person to whom it is addressed, the notice of termination of
employment, when this is effective from and your signature.
• If you are leaving on good terms, or are particularly sorry to be leaving behind valued colleagues
and friends, you may want to add an extra sentence or two thanking your boss for the
opportunities you have been given, and expressing your regret. A touch of sentiment, concisely
phrased, can go a long way and costs nothing.
• On the other hand, if your resignation is as a result of adverse working conditions or, worse, a
clash of personalities with your boss or another colleague, it can be dangerous to go into detail.
Simply state your intention to resign coolly. There is no need to elaborate. Remember, the letter
has one sole purpose – to inform your employer of the date you wish to terminate your
employment. Keep it simple and to the point. Don’t commit bitterness to paper.
How do I tell my boss?
• You’ve made your decision to go to pastures new, and written the letter that legally notifies your
employer of your actions. How do you feel?
• It’s not uncommon to experience a mixture of emotions. Guilt is often the first – they’ll think I’ve
deserted them! Anxiety then sets in. You imagine the moment when you tell your boss you’re
leaving and you try to visualize their expression and reaction. How will they treat me during the
notice period? What if they try to convince me to stay? What if they don’t? You may feel sad
about the friends that you will leave behind.
• The reality is that most people at some point in their lives – your boss included – will have been in
your situation. Despite the fact you may have been a valued member of the team, the company
will not collapse without you. You are not the first person to resign and you won’t be the last – so
don’t beat yourself up.
• There is never a ‘right time’ to resign. Just use common sense and judgment:
• Keep it confidential – your boss will appreciate being the one to decide who else to tell, how and
when to break the news
• Find the right moment to see your boss – just before he is about to make a presentation to the
board of directors is NOT a good time
• Be sure of your reasons for leaving – if necessary, rehearse them
• If you don’t want to reveal where you’re going, you’re perfectly within your rights to not declare
• Be prepared for a negative reaction, even anger – take it on the chin, block your ears and re-state
the facts clearly and simply; remember, you are just resigning – the initial shock will pass • If there
is likely to be a handover period to a colleague or new person, reassure your boss you’ll be helpful
and cooperative – don’t be negative
Remember your reasons for leaving – stick to your guns
Second thoughts but will you or won’t you resign? It’s not too late. Contemplate long and hard before you
made your final decision. Ask yourself – is this really the right job for me? Do I really want to leave?
Being absolutely sure you are doing the right thing is crucial. You may be pleased at the prospect of a
‘counteroffer’ – but what will your boss think of you now? Disloyalty, money motivation, indecisiveness are
all words that spring to mind. Before you make up your mind, give some thought to the following:
• What are the pros and cons of your present job? And the new one?
• Have you pursued all avenues for advancement within your current firm?
• Would you leave if you were offered more money or a promotion?
• What does your heart say? What does your head say? Listen to your head
• Think back to your motives for seeking alternative employment in the first place. What made you
unhappy? Are those circumstances likely to change?
• Don’t be swayed by motherly comments from friends or family such as ‘But you were so settled’
and ‘Think of all the pollution in the city – it’s not good for your health’
• Don’t be put off by imagining people saying, ‘It wouldn’t be the same without you’ or ‘I had you in
line for a promotion next quarter’
• Be positive and don’t underestimate your capabilities. If you have goals and ambitions, don’t be
hampered by negative thought. It is important to remember that the average worker spends eight
hours per day at the office. That’s forty hours per week!