The Etiquette of Resignation - Do's and Don'ts of Quitting Your Job!

By: Lauren Wilson
IG: @charlotteology

Moving On? Keep it as Smooth as Possible!

Did you accept a new job? Congratulations! As exciting as it is to start something new, you also have to inform your current employer that you are moving on, which can be an intimidating and sometimes awkward situation. Keep these tips in mind to help the resignation process go as smoothly as possible.

1. Prepare for the Worst

Before giving your formal notice, prepare for the worst. Most employers will respond to your resignation in a disappointed, yet understanding way. That being said, you would be surprised by the number of employers who completely overreact. So take some time to gather your personal belongings and files in your office and on your computer beforehand. (Wait, no one else keeps personal files on their work computer?) This way, you are ready to go if your employer requests that you leave the premises promptly after giving your notice.  

2. Honor Your Contract

Make sure that you honor your current contract. If you had to sign a contract, you agreed to certain terms and conditions. You should uphold these terms to the best of your ability. Depending on your career field, you could open yourself up to a lawsuit if you do not. Pull out the copy of your contract that you (hopefully) tucked away for safekeeping and look at the terms you agreed to. Make sure to consider things like a non-compete clause, client solicitation, password and passcode submission, and returning equipment. Often times, your contract will specify a period of notice that must be given. Traditionally, a 2 week notice is standard; however, many contracts specify a 30 day notice or more.

3. Write a Formal Letter of Resignation

Write a formal letter of resignation to your employer at the time you inform them of your intentions. This letter should be short and to the point, but also kind. Make sure to state the length of your notice, as well as your last day of employment. It is a good idea to add a line or two thanking them for the opportunities you’ve had while employed at the company. Also, make sure to sign and date your letter. Do not feel like you have to state the reasons why you are leaving your current position. You should hand-deliver your letter of resignation to your boss and send a copy of your letter to the HR department. Plan on having a short conversation when you deliver the letter to let your employer know that you have enjoyed working with them, but you have decided to pursue another opportunity. Hopefully your boss understands and responds in a positive way, but even if that turns out not to be the case, it is important to maintain poise and professionalism during this conversation.

4. Continue to Work Hard

If you are not asked to leave promptly, odds are, your employer wants you to stay and work until your last day of employment. If this is the case, don’t become a slacker. You would hate to ruin your reputation during your last days at work, so maintain quality work standards and professionalism.

5. Stay Focused on the Job at Hand

Try not to talk too much about your new job. Remember that, although you are excited to move on, your co-workers are staying and would probably appreciate it if you refrain from rubbing your new-job-joy in their faces.

6. Be Nice, Leave Notes

If your last day of employment occurs before all of your projects are completed, leave detailed notes for your replacement. Obviously, this isn’t required, but it will definitely help the new guy as he transitions into your old role.

7. Never Burn a Bridge

Some employers require a formal exit interview. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to think through your answers. Do not say anything negative about your coworkers or supervisors and try not to make statements that you might regret later. Remember what your Momma told you; if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything. Don’t go burning bridges. As important as it is to be honest, you need to be kind and gracious and try your hardest to practice thankfulness. Also, do not feel like you have to state the reasons why you are leaving your current position.

8. Check Your Benefits

Make sure that you receive all of your outstanding benefits, such as unused vacation days and monetary bonuses. Check your contract and employee handbook for a list of conditions that could lead to a forfeiture of benefits. (Then, avoid doing those things.)

9. Stay Connected

Just because you are leaving the office does not mean that you cannot maintain professional relationships. Keep in touch with your coworkers and maintain your professional network. LinkedIn is a great way to achieve this goal.

For more information on the resignation process, visit:

Also, for more general information about career success and planning, check out the Career Tools Podcast on iTunes.

- Lauren Wilson