How to Resign Without Burning All of Your Bridges

Whether due to a bad boss, wrong culture fit or a lack of work-life balance, we’ve all had a job we didn’t like at one time or another. So, when the day comes to hand in your resignation, the temptation to destroy your work relationships and tell your boss what you really think of them can be irresistible.

While burning bridges might make you feel good, particularly if your time there has been problematic, it’s a buzz that will be very short-lived. Leaving in a wake of negativity and destruction more often than not will come back to haunt you.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Well, it’s definitely true when it comes to professional relationships. You just never know when you might need a reference for a new role or need to call in a favour from a former boss or colleague in future. A bad exit can also make you the talk of the town, which can easily put people from other organisations off from wanting to hire or work with you.

However, even with the best intentions, leaving a role on a high note and without stepping on anyone’s toes can be easier said than done. So here are some pointers on how to resign without burning all of your bridges.

Make sure you’ve definitely got the job first

 It can be easy to jump the gun when you’re excited to leave and move onto a new and exciting challenge. But handing in your resignation before you’ve signed on the dotted line can be a disaster waiting to happen. From companies going bust to changes in signing off a role with management, there are a number of reasons why a job might fall through.

So, if you tell everyone that you’re leaving before getting written confirmation and then find out that you’re staying put, this can greatly impact the relationships you have with your colleagues and make your work situation more challenging than it was previously.

Tell your boss first 

 You might be chomping at the bit to tell your colleagues that you’ve landed a great new job and that you’re planning on resigning. But hold fire until you’ve had a conversation with your boss. One of the easiest ways of upsetting your boss during this process is by not telling them first and for them to hear the news from someone else. You should also have this conversation in-person or over a video call because an email just won’t cut it.

You should also come armed with a resignation letter, which confirms your end date and thank your boss for the support and opportunities they’ve given to you during your time at the organisation. This might seem formal, but it reduces the chance of miscommunication during this delicate process.

If your boss asks you for further explanation, consider your answer and your relationship with them carefully. If you feel comfortable enough to speak freely and you have a good relationship with your boss, you could go into more detail around your reasons to leave- but remember to be courteous. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, just stick to the facts.

Give plenty of notice

While you might be eager to leave your current role as quickly as possible, it’s important that you give your boss plenty of notice as this will give them an opportunity to find your replacement and shows your professionalism. You’re guaranteed to burn a lot of bridges if you decide to just not turn up for work and leave your team in the lurch.

Your contract should outline how much notice you’re required to give, so check this and use it to determine what your end date will be. You might also be tempted to extend your notice period so you’re around to complete a project or to help your boss in the hiring process for your replacement. It can also give you more time to tie up any loose ends such as paperwork and responding to emails, to ensure you leave a clean slate behind when you leave.

Plan for unexpected scenarios

 If you’re leaving your role to go and work for a competitor, there’s every chance that your boss will ask you to leave there and then. In which case, you’ll probably be asked to pack up your desk and return any company-owned items such as laptops and phones as soon as possible. Alternatively, your boss might also try to convince you to stay with an attractive counter-offer that could make all the difference to your work life.

Think about whether there are any terms you would accept that could encourage you to stay, such as an increase in salary, changes to your work schedule or remote working. If the answer is no, be firm and don’t waiver. But if the answer is yes, make sure to get these terms in writing and signed by leadership before deciding to stay put.

Keep working hard

 Just because you’re preparing for your departure doesn’t mean that you can slack off. To leave a lasting impression, it’s important that you continue being a valuable asset to your team right up until 5 pm on your last day. The experiences you’ve gained from this role, both good and bad, have helped you to point you in the right direction and secure a new and exciting role.

No matter how thrilled you are about leaving, keep working just as hard as you would normally. The way you conduct yourself in the final few weeks with an organisation will be a part of your legacy and what people will remember when your name is mentioned in future. Trust us, your hard work will definitely leave a fantastic impression.

Say thank-you

On your final day, it’s important to say thank you to your team and your boss for your experience at the organisation, even if it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of an experience. After all, the skills and experience you’ve gained have helped you to secure your new role in one way or another.

Depending on your relationship with your colleagues and boss, you might want to consider sending a friendly email wishing them all well, bringing in a gift for everyone to enjoy or giving a brief good-bye speech at the end of the day. This will ensure that you’re remembered for leaving on a high note and not remembered for disappearing without a word.

When it comes down to it, leaving a role without drama doesn’t have to be difficult. No matter how you might be feeling about the situation, the key to a professional resignation is being respectful and considerate through each stage of the process. With this in mind, there’s no reasons why you can’t leave and keep your professional relationships intact.

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27th November

Career Advice