Telling your boss you want to leave is never easy – in fact even if you hate your role, don’t get along with your boss, and just can’t wait to leave the company, there is always a right and a wrong way to go about resigning. You never know where you’ll end up in the coming years and so it’s wise to act with caution and ensure you don’t burn any bridges along the way.

Here is your 5 point checklist on how to resign the right way:

1. Make sure you are sure!
Weigh up the pros and cons of leaving your role. Are you leaving because you want a higher salary? If so, have you asked your boss for a pay rise? Are you leaving because there is nowhere for you to progress? Perhaps your manager can work on a clear career progression path with you. Do you have another role lined up? In the current economic climate it may be difficult to search for a job and land one straight away after leaving your current role.

2. Check your contract for the required notice period
All contracts by Australian law are required to include a notice period, regardless of whether you are in full time work, part time work or on a contract role. Check to see what the required notice period is, as you may be asked to work out the full period while your employer looks for your replacement. If in doubt, a month’s notice is usually the most appropriate time frame for full time work, or 2 weeks for contract/casual.

3. Write a letter of resignation
Type up a written letter which you will use during your formal meeting with your manager (see step 4). The letter should be courteous, which briefly outlines your notice period and intended end date. If you have found other work or are leaving for health reasons etc., you can include these reasons for leaving in the letter, however steer clear of documenting any emotional reasons e.g. if you are leaving because you don’t get along with your boss, then it is best to leave this unsaid. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter for your records, and sign and date both copies.

4. Organise a face to face meeting with your manager
Your resignation should be done formally with a written notice of intent, not via sms, phone or email. Arrange to meet with your manager and bring your letter of resignation with you. During the meeting, offer your manager the letter and explain clearly your reasons for leaving the business. Your manager may try to probe into the reasons why you are leaving so try to keep negativity out of the situation – there is no point leaving on bad terms – how you react now could hurt you in the long run if your manager were to harbour resentments about the way you left. Emphasize the positive aspects of working for the business, remain cool-headed and mention that whilst you regret leaving, you feel it is time to move on. Discuss how the transition and handover period will be handled, and offer help where you can.

5. Ask for recommendations
Obtaining a written letter of recommendation (or an agreement for your boss to act as a verbal referee) is important, if you already have a new role lined up for you. During your final week at the company, send your boss an email (or request a face to face meeting with them) to thank them personally for their leadership, and to ask if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Don’t limit your recommendation to just your manager – seek out recommendations from clients you dealt with, your fellow colleagues and even suppliers – anyone with whom you had regular contact during the course of your role, and who would be able to vouch for you. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can use the recommendations feature to obtain and display these.

Resigning can feel like an arduous task – however you owe it to yourself and your career to handle it in the best way possible. Make sure you remain calm, think positively and ensure that no matter what happens, you leave on good terms.

How to accept a job offer
All right! After rounds of applications, interviewing, and your very best professional behavior, you have a job offer. The company liked it, and now they want to put a ring on it. How you react to this offer can really set the tone for your tenure as the newest employee of a new company, so be sure to play it the right way.

1. Say thank you.
Even though you’ve already sent a thank-you note to everyone whose inbox you touched through this hiring process (you have sent those notes, right?), you still need to thank whoever is extending you the offer. It could be your new manager or it could be a Human Resources hiring specialist you’ll never see again. Regardless, extend a hearty “thanks,” and be sure to tell them how excited you are about discussing the offer further.

2. If it’s not in writing, get a paper trail.
Some companies like the personal touch of calling candidates to extend an offer. This is usually followed by a confirmation email or letter, but it’s on you to make sure that step is forthcoming. It can be as easy as saying, “Great, thanks so much! Will you be sending me the details and next steps in an email?” That way, you have all the necessary details after you start to come down from the I got the job euphoria.

3. Make sure you understand the timeline.
It’s okay to ask how long you have to give a final answer. You don’t win anything for responding in record time, and employers expect that there will be some negotiation happening. If the answer is that you need to answer immediately, that’s not a great sign—a day or two is a very reasonable request for making such a big decision.

4. Get ready to negotiate.
Once you have the details about salary, benefits, and job description, decide whether they work for you. This is your chance to bump up your offer package. You may or may not be successful depending on what you’re asking and what the company can give, but having realistic asks ready to go will help keep things moving.

5. Once you’re ready to say yes, make sure all details are clear.
Reiterate (in writing if possible—remember the paper trail) the details of the offer, including salary, start date, and any points that you negotiated. From a legal standpoint, it makes everything clear, but that doesn’t mean you should see this as an adversarial thing where you’re likely to see your new employer in court someday. Really, it’s just as much for your own benefit, to make sure you have everything straight in your own head. That way, there are no nasty surprises on day one.

6. After you say yes, start asking transition questions.
Is there an orientation for new employees? Do you need to fill any paperwork out before you start? Can you get your million dollar signing bonus in gold coins? (That one’s assuming the negotiation went really well.) It shows that you’re already a fully engaged employee, and it will keep you excited for your new start as you prepare to say goodbye to your current job.


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