It's important to resign on good terms.
Making a good impression is as important when resigning as it is when getting hired. — Getty Images/Mladen Zivkovic

It’s exciting to start a new job and move to the next stage in your career, but it can be hard to know how to exit your current role gracefully. Before you leave, you need to write a resignation letter officially resigning from your current position. Follow these steps when you’re ready to depart for a new phase in your career.

Speak with your manager first

Just like you wanted to make a good impression when you first started your job, you also want to make a good impression during your transition out of it. The way you treat your current employer can affect your future career opportunities, so you don’t want to burn any bridges.

That’s why you should tell your manager that you’re leaving before submitting the official resignation letter. You need to be able to control the narrative around why you’re quitting, and you never want to let your manager find out through office gossip.

Ideally, you should let them know in person, but if that’s not an option, try to set up a video call at the very least. Know what you’re going to say ahead of time, and prepare to answer any questions that come up during the conversation.

Consider using a template

Once you’ve let your manager know about your plans, you need to draft an official resignation letter. It’s a good idea to start with a template and then modify it slightly for your specific situation.

Using a template will ensure that your letter sounds professional and that you include all of the relevant information. You can check out this article for a variety of job resignation templates.

Express appreciation

You want to maintain a positive relationship with your manager and team members, so it’s a good idea to express your appreciation in your resignation letter. Thank your employer for the opportunity, and let them know what you learned during your employment.

And yes, you should still state your gratitude even if you’re leaving that job on a sour note. You may be ready to move on, but you never know what will happen down the road. You may need a reference or help from someone at that job, so you don’t want to leave a bad impression.

Maintain a positive attitude and do what you can to contribute to the company in whatever time you have left.

Include a short explanation of why you’re leaving

Your resignation letter should include an explanation as to why you’re leaving. It’s okay to keep this section brief and say something like, “I recently accepted a position at another company.”

If you’re leaving because you’re no longer happy at your current job, then it’s a good idea to keep this very vague. You can say you’re leaving for “personal reasons” or to “explore new opportunities.”

Remember, you don’t have to give more details than you’re comfortable with. If co-workers press you for more information, you can be polite but firmly decline to discuss your departure.

[Read more: What are the Stages of Career Development?]

Be willing to help with the transition

In your resignation letter, you should state your willingness to assist in the transition. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go above and beyond, and you shouldn’t promise more than you’re able to deliver. You just have to let your employer know that you plan to finish up your current duties before leaving and are happy to assist in training any new employees before moving on.

Be prepared to leave immediately

Your resignation should state when your final day of work will be. In many jobs, it’s still common practice to give two weeks’ notice. Depending on your employer’s protocols, they may want you to leave immediately. It’s a good idea to clean up your workspace and remove some of your personal items so you can leave without notice if necessary.

Go the extra mile during your last few weeks

Assuming your employer does want you to stay on for your final two weeks, make sure you give your best effort during that time. Mentally, you may have moved on to the next opportunity, but now isn’t the time to slack off.

Maintain a positive attitude and do what you can to contribute to the company in whatever time you have left. This will make it easier for you to maintain the professional relationships you’ve built and will set you up for future career success.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 17, 2020