How to resign without burning bridges

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the selection process, aced your interview, and been offered a new and exciting role. Or you’ve decided it’s time to focus your efforts on your next move – perhaps enrolling in study before moving into a new industry. All that’s left to do is break the news to your current employer, which is often a bittersweet last hurdle on your journey towards bigger and better things.

Whether you’ve loved your current role and you’re genuinely sad to leave, or you’ve quietly loathed it with the intensity of a thousand burning suns and can’t wait for the clock to strike 5pm on your final day, resigning without burning bridges is crucial… and simpler than you might think.

  • Give notice. You might be chomping at the bit to rise to your next challenge, but it’s important that you give your current employer ample notice so they can find and train a suitable replacement. Your contract will outline your required notice period, though you can always opt to give more notice if you’re so inclined, as a show of good faith that you want to make the transition as easy as possible for the team you’re leaving behind.
  • Be courteous. Good manners cost you nothing, but can make a huge difference when it comes to leaving your current workplace behind. Have the courtesy to speak to your direct manager first, in person, before you announce your exciting new plans to your teammates. Remain professional, and avoid using this time to voice your opinions about your boss or the organisation to others.
  • Make it official. Even if you have a great working relationship with your manager and you’ve discussed and agreed on your final day at the office, be sure to make your resignation official with a letter. This is a formal means of confirming your end date with the company, so there’s no chance of miscommunication, as well as a chance to thank them for the opportunities they’ve offered during your time with the organisation.
  • Work hard until the end. You may be preparing for your departure, but it’s important to continue being a productive and valuable asset to your team and current employer right up until you clock off for the last time. The experience you gained in this role has helped in securing or directing your next challenge, so don’t allow yourself to check out mentally after your resignation, no matter how excited you are about moving on.

    It’s just as important to leave a good impression as it is to make a new one, and you’ll be best remembered for how you conducted yourself in your final weeks with the company.

  • Say ‘thank you’. Always depart with a thank you, whether it’s a well-wishing email you sent to your team, a brief speech of appreciation at a good-bye luncheon in the staff room, or a small gift for your former colleagues to remember you by (leave a box of chocolates and you’ll always be thought of fondly).

Remember; burning professional bridges can come back to bite you, so no matter what the circumstances around your decision to leave, it’s always possible – and of utmost importance – to resign with charm. You never know when you might cross paths with former bosses and colleagues in the future, so remaining professional and leaving a great impression now can positively impact your career progression in years to come.

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