5 professional habits when writing your resignation letter

5 professional habits when writing your resignation letter

When you leave a job, whether you’re leaving for another or leaving the workforce, there are many considerate habits you should employ when handing in your resignation letter (Hint: You should include a resignation letter).

Many people don’t understand the importance of professionally leaving a position. Usually, professionals would include a resignation letter and say your goodbyes to your colleagues. There are many more great habits to incorporate when leaving your current position, despite your feelings regarding your position, company or fellow employees.

Here are 5 tips and 1 how to guide to professionally leave a position:

Approach your superior about resigning

Before putting your pen to paper, approach your superior or employer about your resignation. I understand this is not an ideal topic to sit down with your employer to talk about, but they will appreciate your ability to talk with them first, rather than receiving a piece of paper regarding your resignation.

Approaching your superior also allows you to discuss your resignation.

If you plan to start your own business or pursue a change in your career, it’s beneficial for your employer to know that information. This allows them to find other engaged and efficient employees, such as yourself, and understand how your position might have affected your career.

While, ideally, you would approach your direct supervisor. If it’s a toxic or ill-reputed relationship, you could go to a higher superior in management, but try to sit with your direct supervisor if at all possible.

Submit your resignation letter

After discussing your reasons for leaving your position, most superiors will ask for your formal resignation letter.

You might be wondering how to word certain things or how much you should include in your letter of resignation.

An answer: make your resignation letter simple.

You don’t have to go into every detail that you might have divulged to your superior when talking with them. I recommend that you don’t.

Here’s a very simple how-to-guide on writing your resignation letter:

  1. Make it personal

    Address your supervisor rather than addressing your letter with “To Whom it may Concern.” You’ve probably worked with these people for a length of time at this point. You can address them by name, unless told not to do so by them.

  2. Think of a few good things about the position you’re leaving

    This can range from the work environment, skills you’ve learned, or the projects you’ve curated. Even if you are leaving a toxic environment, try to find one or two good things to comment on to your superior.

  3. Let them know you will be resigning

    Try not to say this too bluntly. Adding a vague “why” for your reason for leaving would be appropriate, but you do not have to go into detail.

  4. Give them notice of when you will be leaving

    Common courtesy dictates to give an employer two weeks notice before your departure from the time of the resignation letter. It’s not always possible to make this happen, due to when you are expected to start another job or emergency circumstances, but it is helpful to employers to have time to find a replacement for your position.

  5. Be sincere in your closing

    Try to be sincere and helpful when closing your resignation letter. A simple sincerely or regards goes a long ways.

After finalizing your letter of resignation, I’ve always found printing and signing to be a nice formal touch so your employer is able to keep a physical record of your resignation. In the digital age, I know not everyone knows how to add a signature in programs such as Adobe Acrobat, but adding a signature to a digital copy is helpful too.

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Resign in an appropriate time frame

As mentioned in the how-to guide over resignation letters, two weeks is customary to include when leaving a position.

Some people choose to put in extra time or breach the subject of leaving but have no date set as to when they will be leaving. Both are fine when thinking about resigning.

I’ve seen many of my coworkers submit their resignation letter’s and leave the position the next day. This is different than taking vacation days for your last few days or other arrangements that many employers utilize when you are leaving. This is just wham-bam-done types of attitudes.

This is also not a good way to leave on a positive note with your employer. I’ve seen many employers upset after an employee abruptly leaves their position. It gives them no time to arrange coverage of your position or potentially search for a replacement.

Sort, finish, and delegate your current projects

When you submit your resignation letter or approach your employer about moving on from your position, you should be making lists of current projects you are working on.

I’m not saying you need a full list when you approach or submit your letter. Try keeping track of your current projects when you hit send or hand in the letter to your boss. Even if you complete it before you leave, anyone you are working with, be that a client or a fellow employee, it’s helpful to know you were the one to complete that project so you can brief someone on the tasks that might be addressed in your absence.

If you don’t have the ability to finish a project, it is very important for you to brief your supervisor and anyone that might be taking over your projects once you leave. I find the best way to do this is starting to integrate your replacement or a fellow co-worker into the project tasks. I like to include anyone taking over that task in meetings, emails, or updates with the boss to understand where the project has been and where it might be going.

Some types of work allows you to be done with a project within a shift. Even when this is the case, it’s important to let anyone interacting with you that you are leaving. It helps others know who they might be able to ask questions or gain guidance when they need to learn or understand something that they sought you out for.

Maintain friendly, professional ties with your employer

Do not burn the bridge after you leave your employer.

Most interactions I’ve encountered with previous employers has been cordial. They don’t have to be very personal but it’s great to maintain a professional and friendly demeanor with your previous supervisors or fellow employees.

Understand, toxic work environments do happen (have you ever watched The Devil Wears Prada?). That doesn’t mean you can’t learn things or gain the approval of someone that can vouch for the skills you learned at your position. I’ve gained many references from previous jobs that I’ve not enjoyed or when I knew I’d be entering another field after I left their employment.

Regardless, try to leave on the best terms possible. You never know when you’ll need a recommendation.

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It’s potentially scary to approach your boss about resigning, but don’t let the fear of a confrontation allow you to act unprofessionally or rashly.

In my experience, my superiors have been supportive and excited for me to continue my career. They helped me learn and expand my skills while I worked under their employ but are happy that I can continue in my own professional career.

Do you have any tips or suggestions you’ve received regarding resigning from a position? Leave your advice below to help others resign with class and professionalism!

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