Resignation for Employees

A resignation is what happens when you have made the decision to leave your role with a business. This may be to pursue further career opportunities, for personal reasons or for reasons involving the workplace/culture/team.

As a minimum, when you resign you are required to provide your Manager with:

  • A written resignation notice (see enclosed sample resignation letter);
  • The period of notice outlined in your employment contract or enterprise agreement; and
  • Confirmation of your last working day.

It is important that when you resign you continue to focus on maintaining a great relationship with your Manager and colleagues, who will be important to your future success.

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Deciding to resign

Choosing to leave your job is big decision.  When thinking about leaving your role, there are many factors to consider, including:

  • Can my current role/business provide what I am looking for (e.g. a bigger role, different challenges, greater flexibility, a better culture)? If yes, when can they provide this?
  • Have I been honest and clear with my Manager about what I am looking for? Has my Manager been supportive and constructive with what I am seeking?
  • Am I clear on what I want to do next? (e.g. move to a new job, take a career break, study, care for my family).
  • If moving to a new role, am I confident my new employer will be able to provide what I am seeking?

If you have thoroughly explored the factors above and are comfortable that leaving your employer is the right decision (on balance), then you may choose to resign.

Resigning with class in a good conversation

Telling your Manager that you are resigning can be a difficult conversation, but an important one to have out of courtesy and respect.

Before the discussion with your Manager, ensure you are clear on why you are leaving and when you are seeking to leave the business. It is also valuable if you have a preliminary think about how a transition/handover may work. You may want to take notes of your key talking points to help you during the discussion.

Schedule time for you to have a discussion with your Manager in a private place (i.e. meeting room, café). Be as open and honest as you can be about why you are leaving and about your next role.

Your Manager may be shocked or may not take the news of your resignation as well as you had hoped. Allow your Manager time to take it in and process the information. Remember, your Manager is human too and will have their own reaction to your resignation, which is OK.

Resigning formally in writing

Once you have verbally resigned it is important to follow this up with a written resignation. This only needs to be a simple email or letter to your Manager outlining that you are leaving the business and when you are leaving. If appropriate, in this letter thank your Manager for your time with the business and any support/development they may have offered during your employment.

You may wish to outline the reasons why you have made the decision to resign. This may be especially appropriate if your decision to resign is based on the business cultural/conduct reasons, or for issues like bullying, harassment.

Resigning to make a point or to make sure something serious is addressed

Choosing to leave your employment to make a point or to ensure a serious issue is addressed is a bold course of action and one that should not be taken lightly. There are sometimes situations at work that you may strong disagree with or may be against your values or what you believe is fair and ethical. Other times there may be serious situations like bullying, harassment, discrimination or fraud that you feel need to be addressed.

Before deciding to resign, ensure you have exhausted internal avenues first and have provided your leader and/or the business with an opportunity to understand and resolve the issues you have raised. If you have done this and the issues are ignored or not resolved appropriately, you may choose to leave your business.  To ensure your issues are known, put these in writing and provide them to a senior leader for action. Be clear about how you can be contacted post your employment and how you may be willing to assist the business in understanding the issues raised.

Retaining great relationships long after you’ve left

The relationships you build at work are often close, trusting friendships cemented via time spent with each other. When you leave a job, it doesn’t mean you also leave great relationships behind. Take the time to provide and collect personal contact details (e.g. email, Facebook, LinkedIn) with the key people you have connected with. These people will form part of your future network.

Ensure you don’t just add ex-colleagues to your Facebook/LinkedIn and forget about them. Relationships need to be invested in to keep them current and real. This may be as simple as an occasional call, coffee or email to understand what is happening in their lives and to tell them what is happening in yours.  Share articles, information or tools that you think may be of interest to them.

Making sure you have a referee after you’ve left

A great referee is an important relationship for you to actively maintain. Even though you may already have a new job and think you may not need another referee in the short term, it is important you make the effort to keep connected to people who can speak positively about you and your work.

Ensure you stay connected with your referees after you leave your business by asking for their personal contacts. This will help you maintain contact as you both continue in your careers. Make the effort to stay in contact with your referees and keep them updated with what is happening in your career: also understand what’s happening in theirs. This will ensure they are up to date with your progress should they be required to be a referee again in future.

Exit interviews when you resign

Many organisations ask employees to complete an exit interview on their way out of the organisation. Exit interviews are used to understand why people are leaving the business (including trends, patterns and serious issues) so that improvements can be made to the business, team, culture and/or role.

The information collected in exit interviews is usually analysed collectively and not usually reported on an individual basis, unless there is a serious issue (such as bullying) reported. Ask the person administering the exit interview how the information will be used and who will see it. You can ask for certain people not to see the information if you have specific concerns.

It is valuable to complete exit interviews as openly and honestly as you can. Focus on your whole experience with the business (rather than a one-off incident). Do not use the exit interview as an opportunity to raise every concern or issue with the business, rather focus on the core matters of concern, what could be better and what contributed to your decision to leave the business. Be sure to raise any serious issues such as bullying or harassment that have not been addressed. If these issues have been addressed and resolved appropriately, you may not need to raise these again in the exit interview process.

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Need some more information about resigning?

I want to find a new job. Should I leave my current job then look, or should I try and find a new job while working?

It is easier to find another job while you are currently employed. It is beneficial for most job search activities that you can demonstrate ongoing employment as it can help to remove questions about why you left your last role.

Don’t panic if you need to leave your current role before finding a new role. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a new job, rather it just means you may have to explain to a prospective employer your decision to leave when you did. 

Can I resign and then change my mind?

Resignations can be disruptive to a team/business and so it’s important that you fully consider your decision before you tell your Manager you want to resign.

If something major happens (i.e. a change in personal circumstances or a job offer is withdrawn) and you want to stay with the business, talk to your Manager as soon as possible. Be honest about why you have changed your mind and why you would like to stay with the business. Be prepared that your Manager may say no given the disruption to the team, if replacement processes are underway, or if there concerns about retaining you longer term.

If your Manager does not allow you to withdraw your resignation, you may try instead to negotiate a longer notice period or seek support to plan for your next steps post leaving the business.

What if I want to return?

You never know how a new role may turn out, and also how your old and your new business may change over time. If you’ve retained great relationships, the bridge is always there if you want to return. As an employee, it’s good to have as many options as possible. Maintaining relationships and being a good alumni of a previous employer are other good options to keep in your pocket.

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

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