How to Resign Gracefully

Congratulations on your new job! You have worked hard to get this new opportunity and there will be much to celebrate.

As someone savvy enough to land a new role you’re excited about, you also know how important it is to leave your current role the right way. You never know when you will cross paths with your boss again, or if you may want to return to your organization at some point. So, it’s important to leave with the same respect and professionalism you started with.

Here are four tips on how to resign gracefully.

Share news with your manager

You likely have one of two kinds of relationships with your manager. The first is your manager is supportive of you. Knowing that you were looking for additional responsibilities and had outgrown your current role, the move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most people aren’t in this group. It’s more likely you kept your search to yourself (your boss may even be part of why you are leaving!).

Either way, you should state clearly that you have a new job offer, thank your manager for everything he or she has done, and share your resignation date. Generally, you should give two to four weeks’ notice depending on your seniority and organizational culture.

Most importantly, this conversation needs to happen in person. (If you work remotely, you could email your manager to schedule a call.) This is a sign of respect to your current employer, and really, it’s a reflection on you and your professionalism. Your supervisor may react in a variety of ways, and a conversation allows you to respond accordingly.

 One caveat: Assess your company culture and adjust this plan as necessary. If your company tends to immediately escort someone out after resignation, you should accordingly prepare your office files and belongings in advance.

Draft a transition plan

Try to make your departure as seamless as possible for the organization. Take time to draft a transition plan, which could include upcoming internal or external meetings that someone else will need to attend, projects you intend to wrap up before you leave, and a client communications timeline.

You may choose to organize and write out notes to the person who will be in the role next. Understand that your manager may not choose to take any of your suggestions or follow your plan. The goal is to provide support to your boss and organization, and what happens after that is out of your hands.

Maintain a positive, professional attitude

Even if you wish you could tell your boss how much he frustrates you and walk out of the building with usic blaring, now is the time to maintain a professional attitude. It’s not worth the damage to your reputation to leave on anything but a positive note.

Talk with your boss about his expectations for your remaining time at the office. You may be excused from the next managers’ meeting or luncheon. It may sting, but remember you are the one choosing to leave. 

Connect with colleagues and mentors

After your organization announces your resignation, reach out to colleagues to share the news. As you advance in your career, you’ll want to build out your network and stay in contact with people who have been helpful to you. This is a great opportunity to send personalized notes to people who mentored you, or made your work life better, to thank them for their support.

When the time comes for your last day, you’ll feel confident you did everything you could to make this transition go smoothly. You thoughtfully shared the news with your manager, created a plan to set the organization up for success, and thanked those who played a role in your journey. You spent a long time building relationships and advancing the organization’s work, and your graceful resignation and departure reflect that commitment. The only thing left to do now—celebrate.