How to properly resign (and why it’s important)


Gone are the days where someone would stay at a job for their entire life. Studies have shown that people working today are more likely to work in multiple careers throughout their life, rather than sticking with one. So, chances are whatever job you have now, there’s going to come a time when you decide to leave it. When this time comes, it is important that you leave the job the right way. Doing so is not only professional, but provides you with some practical benefits going forward. If you’re ready to resign from your job, there are a few things you need to do to leave properly.

Prepare before you resign

Resigning can be a straightforward process, but that doesn’t mean you should just do it without much thought. You’ll want to prepare yourself beforehand to ensure it goes smoothly.

First, if you’re leaving your current job to take on a new one, be sure to formally accept the new position. (This may sound obvious, but it still must be said.) You don’t want to formally announce your resignation only to find that your new job offer was tentative, or not in writing, or even given to someone else. Have your new employment lined up and everything ready to go before you notify your current place of work. Your new employer will understand that you may need some time to leave your current position, and they shouldn’t expect you to start right away as 2-weeks is deemed the professional standard.

Beginning the resignation process

With your research done, and your new employment is official, it’s time to start the process. While you could just hand in a resignation letter and leave the office, never to be seen again, there are more graceful ways to go about it.

For starters, it’s important that you remain professional throughout the resignation process. While there are a fair number of workers who may harbor dreams of telling off their boss before officially resigning, it’s safe to say that those fantasies shouldn’t be realized. Professionalism is key, and there are few ways to achieve it.

First, schedule a meeting with your direct supervisor. Use this meeting to announce your plans to leave, and to turn in a resignation letter if necessary. This will officially start the resignation process, and you can begin to transition out of your current job.

During this meeting, you should give your company and your manager notice. The standard is two weeks, but it can sometimes be longer depending on your role or the company. If you know your company will have a hard time filling your shoes on short notice, staying a little longer would greatly benefit them, and reflect well upon you. Of course, outside circumstances come into play, but it is not ideal to inform your boss that you’re leaving a day beforehand, so avoid this if you can.

Besides plenty of notice, you could also offer to help with the transition. You could offer to assist with the search for or interview your replacement, or provide some minor training to whomever comes into the job. Finding a new person to fill your role is a burden upon the company, and anything you can do to help lessen it will likely be appreciated.

Finally, you might be expected to turn in an official resignation letter. Use this letter to state officially that you are leaving the company, but also to express gratitude. Alex Twersky, the co-founder of Resume Deli says “Conjure up … the best time at your job, and have that image top-of-mind when you write your resignation letter. Let your boss think they were great, even if they weren’t.” You might need a recommendation from your boss somewhere in the future, so it doesn’t hurt to be extra nice. If you’re unsure of how to write a good resignation letter, check out

What if you’re presented with a counter offer?

Once you’ve informed your current company that you plan to leave, you may find that they want to keep you around. If they do, you might get a counter offer. This could include a pay raise, a bigger bonus, more vacation time, or a different role within the company. A counter offer is something you’ll have to consider, and weigh it against the new job you have lined up. It’s nice to feel wanted, but in the end, it might make more sense for you to leave and start something new. In fact, there are several reasons why we suggest turning down a counter offer.

  • You are likely to wind up leaving after a few months anyway. Studies have shown that 80 percent of people who accept a counter offer end up leaving their job within a year. Chances are you aren’t leaving only for money, and whatever dissatisfaction you have with your current job is going to remain, no matter what happens with your salary.
  • Backing out of a job offer could harm your reputation. It’s understandable that after spending time interviewing or recruiting you, a company would be displeased that you turned them down because you received a counter offer. If you develop a reputation as someone who is unreliable in terms of commitment, it could harm your future job prospects.
  • Your current company may want to keep you, but that doesn’t mean their opinion of you will remain the same. Your company will know that you wanted to leave, and only stayed after receiving a counter offer. This could negatively impact your future with that company, as they will be unsure of how much you really want to be there.

Of course, every counter offer is different, so you’ll have to weigh your options. Just be sure to think about all the factors, and try not to focus on just the money.

Why it’s important to resign properly

We’ve gone over how to resign the right way, but we haven’t said why this is important. You’re leaving the company for another job, why not just walk out the door? There are two main reasons why you want to resign professionally.

  • You might need a reference sometime in the future. If you resign the wrong way, your current employer is less likely to give you a positive endorsement, which could hurt your employment prospects down the line.
  • You may end up working for this company again. It’s impossible to tell what the future may hold – you may even find yourself returning to your current company. If your resignation leaves a bad taste in their mouths, chances are they won’t want to hire you back.

Resigning properly helps keep your future career prospects intact. You never know where you might want to work, or who you will end up working with, making it important that you don’t burn any bridges. For example, if you happen to work in a smaller metropolitan region, or work within a niche industry, your current employer could have tight-knit connections within their network you might not know about. If you left a previous job on bad terms, and then interview with someone who reaches out to your previous employer, they could very well sabotage your candidacy for the position, unknowingly or not.

By following the right resignation protocol for your company, every party involved will be clear as to what is going on and what is expected of them. Your current company can’t hold it against you if you decide to leave, as long as you are professional, even if they are unhappy that you’re leaving. And, who knows, maybe you work somewhere where it’s perfectly normal to get up and leave mid-way through the work day, never to return – in which case, feel free to do exactly that. (We just hope that your company changes doing it’s doing to cause its employees to simply walk off the job…)

Resigning isn’t always easy, but it’s important to do it the right way

There are plenty of valid reasons why you might choose to leave your current job. Maybe you want a new opportunity, a new place to live, a higher salary, or you don’t get along with the people at your current job. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you leave on a good note – no matter if you’re on good or bad terms with the company. Resigning properly isn’t just about being respectful to your current employer, but also about taking care to protect future job opportunities.

Give yourself plenty of time to transition between jobs, make sure everything is clear with both your new company and your old, and be as helpful and professional as you can be. Doing all of this is the key to resigning properly, ensuring a smooth transition, and protecting your career.

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