How to hand in your resignation. Don't be worried.

4 mins | Travis O'Rourke | Article | Resigning

A woman wearing a black blouse and orange knitted sweater looks at some papers while another woman sits in front of her.

Congratulations, if you are reading this blog, it’s most likely because you’ve been offered a new and exciting role elsewhere. This opportunity will give you more responsibility, new challenges, and is really a testament to your hard work over the years. So why does it taste so bittersweet?

Probably because you are now faced with the fact that you will have to take the intimidating action of handing in your resignation. It's all starting to feel so real, and you have a number of concerns floating around in your mind. How do I raise this with my boss? What if I seem disloyal? Am I burning my bridges? In this article, the goal is to identify concerns and explain why they shouldn't ruin this exciting time for you.

Concern #1: How do I raise this with my boss? 

As soon as you've been offered the job in writing, you've told the recruiter you happily accept and, more importantly, signed your new contract, it's time to have a private meeting with your boss so you can hand in your resignation. Schedule this meeting as soon as possible so that it is not left hanging.

Concern #2: What should I say during the meeting?

Don't worry too much about the meeting itself. Nine times out of ten, it will only be awkward if you make it so. Remember, your manager is an experienced professional and will have been in this situation before. Therefore, it is unlikely they’ll find the meeting uncomfortable.

It is very likely that your manager will ask where you are moving to and why. If so, remember that it’s best to leave on good terms. Talk about why this opportunity is too good to turn down rather than why you no longer want to work for the business.

Of course, if there are some serious issues you want to raise for the sake of future employees, book some time with HR or use your exit interview as an opportunity to do so anonymously. This meeting should only confirm your resignation, telling your boss about your new role and thanking them in person for all the support they have given you to get to this stage in your career.

Concern #3: What if my boss gets upset?

If you are a valued staff member and you have a good relationship with your boss, they may find it difficult to hide their emotions. In this situation, it's okay to be empathic and express your sadness about leaving as well. However, remember to keep your wits about you and not lose sight of what is best for your career. Your manager will move on, this is just a natural human reaction to bad news.

Concern #4: How do I react to a counteroffer?

Of course, if your boss likes you very much and resources allow it, chances are good that they will make you a counteroffer in the form of a promotion, pay raise, or both. So how do you react?

Whatever you do, don't accept anything right there and then. Take some time to weigh your options and certainly don't make your decision based solely on money. Instead, think about your long-term career goals and personal development. Can your current company really fulfill your ambitions? If so, why haven't they already? Can your new opportunity offer something that your current company simply can't? Will it be a complete change of industry, function or company size? Throughout your career, it's important to step out of your comfort zone and get an eclectic mix of experience under your belt and you know this. That's why you looked for another job in the first place.

During this stressful time, a familiar work environment is a safe haven and may seem tempting, but don't let your fear of the unknown make that counteroffer look better than it really is.

Concern #5: Am I being disloyal? 

Once the deed is done and people know you're leaving, you may feel a pang of guilt, especially if you have friends at work and a supportive boss. If your boss is really that supportive, then they will want you to succeed. They will see this step up in your career as a reflection of their people management skills and certainly won't label it as disloyal. They once were in your shoes; how do you think they got to where they are?

As for your friends at work, of course they will be sad to see you go, but true friends support you no matter what. You can always stay in touch, and you never know when your professional paths will cross again. For now, it's time to put yourself first.

Concern #6: Am I burning my bridges?

It is highly unlikely that you will burn any bridges if you follow the advice above and maintain your professionalism from this point forward. Don't let your performance drop, even if you’re leaving, and when people come up to you to ask why you're moving on, don't badmouth the company. On your last day, sincerely thank your managers and colleagues for making your time at the company so special.

Once you're gone, stay in touch with your former colleagues. Be on the lookout for upcoming individual or team successes and send your congratulations, either by email, on social media or even with a card. Use LinkedIn to give them good recommendations and endorsements, share your updates, and in general stay fresh in their minds as a great former co-worker and a strong professional connection.

Hopefully we’ve helped you identify exactly why you are worried about handing in your notice and why these fears should be overshadowed by the bigger picture of what you need to accomplish in your career. Remember that when it comes to your broader career goals, you need to be strategic and put yourself first. Any good manager will know this and should support you in this new and exciting step. Once you look at it this way, there's really no need to worry about handing in your notice.

About this author

Travis O'Rourke
President of Hays Canada & CCO, Hays Americas

Travis is a Marketing graduate from Fanshawe College and was the 2023 recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award. He joined Hays after holding various leadership roles elsewhere in the Canadian staffing industry. Travis setup and established Hays' outsourced talent solutions business and played an integral role in building Hays’ temporary and contract divisions throughout Canada. Initially joining Hays with a deep background in Technology, he holds extensive cross functional knowledge to provide clients with talent solutions in Financial Services, Energy, Mining, Manufacturing, Retail, and the Public Sector.

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