You may be tempted to throw caution to the wind, march into your Supervisor’s office and unleash all your bottled up frustration. DON’T. The business world is smaller than you think, and things said in the heat of the moment could come back to bite you later. Your employer could be contacted for a reference, or be on the Board of your future dream company, or one of your current co-workers could join your new employer. As the saying goes, don’t burn your bridges.

 

Before you Resign

Check your employment contract for how much notice you should give. In South Africa this is typically 30 days or a calendar month (meaning from the start of the month if you plan on leaving by the end), however yours might say something different Also check for things like a ‘no competition’ clause in your contract. Read the fine print and make sure you’ve covered on any legal obligations.

Clean up your computer and make sure you don’t leave any personal documents or emails behind. Do not delete company owned data or information. Even if it’s something you created from scratch, if it was done on company time, using company resources, it belongs to your employer and you may face legal issues for attempted sabotage.

Speak to your Supervisor before you tell anyone else you plan on resigning. Try to keep it positive. Some things you should mention:

  • An explanation for why you are leaving
  • Offer to help with the transition (i.e. handing over to a colleague or training a replacement)
  • Thank them for the opportunity. Focus on what you learned from the experience
  • When you will be leaving
  • Give as little information as possible about the next employer. You do not have to let your company know who you will be working for or what you will be earning

Handing in Your Resignation

Your resignation letter should be short, polite and professional. You shared your reasons for leaving with your Supervisor already, so you don’t need to describe them in the resignation letter as well. Remember to send a copy of the letter to Human Resources, if applicable.

Your letter should include:

  • Your notice period and the date you will be leaving
  • Thank your employer for the opportunity, describing some of the key things you’ve enjoyed and learned on the job

During Your Notice Period

Part of leaving gracefully is remaining professional. That means showing up for work and remaining a productive member of the team. If you have any outstanding tasks or assignments, do your best to wrap those up and leave a detailed progress report for your Supervisor and/or successor.

When talking about your resignation with co-workers, try to emphasize the positive and talk about how the company has benefited you, even though it’s time to move on. Don’t instigate trouble among your colleagues or encourage others to also quit their jobs.

Make a plan to keep in touch with key co-workers, friends and mentors. Keep your network strong as you may do business with them in the future.

 

Exit Interview

Your employer may ask for feedback from you, often in the form of an exit interview. This is a good opportunity to provide constructive feedback after resigning – but avoid the temptation to be overly negative, as this will only make you appear unprofessional. Focus on possible solutions to some of the difficulties you may have experienced. Avoid ranting about coworkers at all costs

Additional Tips:

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