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The Art of Resigning Gracefully

The thought of handing in your resignation can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. But it really needn’t be an awkward encounter, it’s normal and happens all the time.

The thought of handing in your resignation can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. But it really needn’t be an awkward encounter, it’s normal and happens all the time.

People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons. They’ve outgrown the position, there’s no opportunity to progress, they want to try something new, or simply because a more rewarding opportunity became available.

If you’re unhappy in your current role, it can be tempting to make a grand exit or get one up on your employer. But trust us when we say, this really isn’t going to do you any favours!

Here are our tips on how to resign gracefully.

Be sure it’s what you want to do and don’t bluff

First things first, be sure you want to resign. Take some time to weigh up your options and refresh yourself on the reasons you want to leave at the start of your job hunt.

Don’t try to use the threat of resignation to get yourself a pay rise, promotion or to get one up on someone. It could backfire and you may find yourself jobless.

Follow the rules

Read up on what the rules are first. There should be a policy for those who’re leaving the business outlined within your employment contract. The policy should include clear guidance on who to notify of your intention to leave, notice periods and returning equipment. If you’re unsure what the policy is, check with HR or ask for advice.

Plan ahead

Once you know the policy for leaving and what you need to do, plan when you’re going to give your notice. If you’re dreading it, try booking in a meeting with your employer, so it’s in the diary.

Your employer may give you a counter offer, so plan ahead for this scenario and how you’ll react. However, if you’ve firmly made your decision to leave, the counter offer shouldn’t sway you. You can politely thank your employer for the experience and opportunities, explaining that you’ve fully committed to your new employer.

If you’re working a role where you could be asked to leave within days of handing your notice in, do some preparation beforehand. Ensure everything’s backed up and that you make a list of anything your employer may need to follow up on or complete.

Resign face to face

It’s best practice, and usually forms part of your contract, that you have to hand in your notice in writing. These days, an email counts as notice in writing. You don’t usually have to print a formal letter but do check your contract. Then before you hit send, you should try to catch your employer and speak with them face to face to notify them of your intentions, following up with the written confirmation.

If you’re remote, hybrid or unable to see them in person, book a video call and explain your intentions, then follow up with an email. This means your employer isn’t blind sighted by your letter or email.

Be honest and diplomatic

Be as honest as you can but hold back from airing your complaints and gripes as this could burn bridges. The creative and digital industry is close-knit, and you should be mindful of your reputation. It can pay to resign with grace over causing a scene and saying something you’ll later regret!

If you think your employer will react badly to your news or that it will come as a huge shock to them, don’t focus on the negatives. Be sure to focus on the positives of your time with the business and your decision to move. For example:

  • You will be able to learn new skills.
  • You’re leaving as it’s an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity.
  • The move will allow you to advance into a different career path.
  • The new venture will present you with new/unique challenges (such as managing a team for the first time or working with a client in a new sector).
  • The new company specialise in a field you’d like to progress in.

Try to keep your language positive and focus on what you’re moving towards, rather than speaking negatively about what you’re leaving behind. If you’re offered an exit interview, this is your opportunity to speak about any other reasons that you may have for leaving, including the negatives. When speaking about any negatives, try to do so in a diplomatic manner so that you’re giving constructive feedback rather than airing your grievances. What you have to say could help the business identify and tackle issues which will benefit the workplace going forward.

Help with handover and pull your weight 

Don’t be tempted to resign, then sit back and do nothing for your entire notice period. This will only create issues for you and it’ll have a knock on effect on everyone else in your team.

You never know when you’re going to cross paths again with your clients, colleagues or boss, so make sure you leave everyone as prepared as possible to manage without you.  Even if you’re super fed up and have many gripes, try to think of the bigger picture, who you could impact and be as helpful as possible  with handover.

Help your replacement understand what the status of your current projects are, along with how you’ll wrap them up or what will need to be picked up once you’ve left. Discuss what you have on and what will need to be picked up. It will really help with business continuity and benefit whoever replaces you!

Resigning is never an easy task, whatever the circumstances.

But if you treat your resignation like a job interview in reverse and plan accordingly, you will part on good terms. And – in an industry sector noted for being a close-knit community – with a shiny reference and the door held firmly open for the future.

Need help resigning? Or are you an employer who’s not sure how to handle a resignation?

Feel free to get in touch! With 20 years of recruitment experience behind us, we’ve experienced a whole variety of resignation scenarios and we’re always happy to offer advice.


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