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October 7, 2014

How to resign - without burning bridges

Resigning from a job can be daunting and drawn out for many people. Charity People Consultant Ben Garner takes us through a step by step guide of how to do it smoothly.

Years of working with candidates as a recruitment consultant have taught me that resigning can be very hard for candidates. I'd speak to candidates and realise that they were putting off resigning because they were either too worried it would be too awkward or were concerned about upsetting their boss. Below are some useful pointers which will hopefully make the process a little easier for you when you need it.


Be Sure You Know why You're Resigning

We all enter into the job market and seek new opportunities to improve our skillset and move forward in our careers. Before deciding to leave a job be very clear why you no longer think it's working for you. You have to really want the new job and be motivated for the challenges ahead.

In our sector most people leave jobs to find new opportunities in charities where they may either increase their salary, work with people who can enhance and strengthen their career, or work for an excellent cause perhaps more in line with personal passions and interests.

Key point: Make sure that you have received the job offer in writing from your new company before you resign so that you are 100% confident you have a role to go to. 

Delivering The Resignation

What to Say

Approach your line manager (not HR unless you work in HR) and ask them for a meeting. Be straight to the point and inform them "I'm sorry to inform you that I would like to resign from my position". Before speaking to your line manager it's best to prepare a resignation letter which could say something like this:

Dear XXX

I, Ben Garner hereby resign from (Company XXX) 

I wish you and Company XXX all the best for the future.

Yours, Ben Garner

Always hand your resignation first to your boss, in private; then give a copy to HR. You can keep it short to avoid any legal ramifications which can come back to bite you. Any other details such as notice period and holiday due to you can be discussed. Do not use your resignation to complain or to be emotional about the company, colleagues or your boss. 

Identify any Risks - The Counter Offer

A big challenge people have when resigning is that they're worried that they'll be talked out of it by their boss - "but we need you here", "we've trained you and now you're leaving?", "you could achieve so much here". At times like that it is helpful to remind yourself why you wanted to leave. In addition, if your boss decides to raise your salary or promote you then you should question why this has happened only when you've alerted them that you want to leave.

Four out of five people who accept counter offers have left the organisation within a year.  Why?  Because they were ready to leave.

Key point: If you're ready to leave, accepting a counter offer won't make you happier long term.

After Resigning

Protect Your References

After resigning from your job try to work your notice period or last couple of weeks in a professional, cooperative and friendly way. You should allow this transition of you leaving to be as smooth as possible. Remember that your boss will be looking to hire your replacement so be willing to assist in any handover as much as possible. You will be looking for your boss to provide a reference for you and you should ask them if they will be happy to do this.

I'm a big believer in building relationships throughout your career. You're likely to see your colleagues in a professional space again after you leave and the awkwardness from resigning will pass. Make a point of saying goodbye and shaking hands with everyone on your last day, leaving things on a good note.


Ben Garner is a Consultant for Charity People where he recruits for Marketing and Communications roles.

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