Resignation Tips

The Resignation Process:

The way in which you resign specifically underscores the level of commitment you have just made to your new employer. Many candidates resign improperly leaving the door open to counter-offer measures imposed by the current employer. The notice period can be a particularly vulnerable time for candidates. In many respects it is similar to going through a divorce, so be assured that those feelings you might have in the pit of your stomach over facing your boss are quite normal. Follow these simple steps and your resignation will be a straight forward, low stress process.

The Resignation Letter:

Once you have written your resignation letter, schedule a brief meeting with your boss/supervisor. It is imperative that this letter is direct, to the point and without embellishment or reflection of days gone by. Here is a suggested letter which we have found quite appropriate; so please feel free to copy and paste it into your own document:

“Dear Dave,

Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation. I have made a commitment to another organisation and will start with them in four weeks. Understand that it is my intention to work diligently with you and my team members to make this transition as smooth as possible. As I am most interested in leaving on a positive and professional note, I welcome your thoughts on how we can best accomplish this goal.


The Meeting:

Call your boss and schedule a 5-10 minute meeting. The purpose of the meeting is professional but a private matter. You set the agenda with your boss. You must be positive and professional. This will not be a time for idle conversation, progress updates or a chance for your employer to find out what it will take to keep you on board. This is the time when you inform your employer of your decision and commitment to make a positive career change. The only purpose of the meeting is to discuss how to make the transition a positive one. Open the meeting by saying “Dave, this is my letter of resignation. I’d like you to take a moment to read it before we discuss how we can make a proper transition.” Be prepared to outline your plan for the transition, especially as it relates to the start date at your new firm.

Do not approach your boss with the mentality of apologising. The “I’m sorry or I’m thankful for everything we’ve been able to do together” routines are incredibly dangerous and could jeopardise the commitment you’ve made to your new employer. You must set aside emotionally dangerous issues and be in control.

Note: If your employer begins to ask lot of “Why” or “How” questions state you’ll be happy to address these questions perhaps in a couple of months after you’re settled into the new role. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to answer these questions there and then.


Emotional Control

The moment you resign you upset the balance in the relationship with your boss and create an entirely new dynamic. Your current boss is used to dealing with you as a supplicant, now you’re taking control. You are no longer, from the moment of resignation, his/her employee. And there just might be a battle for who controls your career. Who knows what’s better for you and your career, you or your boss? Are you going to control your career or is he/she? An interesting consideration is that should your employer persist with questions or dialogue regarding your decision what he/she is actually telling you in the sub text is that “I don’t believe you’re capable of making this decision and I’ll make it for you.” The more your firm throws at you to keep you, the more concerned you should be because it could be an indicator that things in your firm are seriously wrong.

When is the best time to give notice? Usually at the beginning of the week, but ideally late in the afternoon. This usually minimises your employer’s opportunity to spend the requisite time to develop a counter-offer.

Your current employer does not have a need to know where you’ll be working after you leave. In the event of non-compete issues, assure your employer that you do not intend to violate your non-compete clause and that you will disclose the name of your new employer after you’ve settled into your new role. This can often be a way for managers to angle themselves into a counter-offer discussion by informing you of all the “wrong” things with your new organisation (it is very rare for a current employer to say anything positive about a new employer!!). This reinforces the notion that he/she doesn’t really believe you are capable of making a sound decision on your own. And probably one of the reasons you decided to make a change in the first place. The point of the meeting is to discuss how to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. It is not a meeting to debate the merits of the decision you have already made in your own best interest. Immediately following your resignation I would like you to contact me to thoroughly debrief the meeting.


What To Expect From Your Boss:

Some individuals will agonise over this meeting. Others will move through it with ease. In either case you need to be prepared.


  • Your company will be sorry to lose you. You have contributed to their success and profits.
  • You are probably involved at the moment in a project within your workplace that requires your talents.
  • Put yourself in your boss’s position – what would you do?

Employers have only a few possible reactions to your resignation:
1.”Pack your desk and leave!”
2.”How can you do this to me and the company after all we’ve been through together?”
3.”How can you do this to the client, they depend on you and as you know we’re so backlogged?”
4.”Come on, you can’t be serious, what’s it going to take to keep you?”

  1. “This is confidential and I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but we were looking at promoting you in the next six months.”
  2. ‘We will match your new offer and put it into effect next pay day. I had meant to review it anyway.”
  3. “Don’t make a decision now, have a think about it and we’ll sit down next week and discuss it.”
  4. 8. “I understand, I accept your resignation and want to work out a smooth transition.”

Obviously, any reasonable employer will react along the lines of “8” – anything else smacks of over-reaction or desperation (or both!). Whatever their reaction, take confidence in knowing that you have been well prepared emotionally and professionally. Having realistic expectations of the resignation meeting, the possible reactions from your boss and the appropriate positioning of your resignation itself you’ll be able to maintain control of your career.


‘The counter offer’

Incidentally, do you understand why many bosses come across as desperate to keep an employee who has just informed them of their resignation? Are you aware of the shortage of highly skilled professionals in your industry? Do you know how much it costs to replace someone with your skills and experience? Chances are your boss does. Hence he/she will offer you more money simply as a way of avoiding a recruitment fee for your replacement, the hassle involved in recruiting for your replacement, and the downtime/learning curve involved with taking on a new member of staff. But I guarantee that they won’t tell you any of this!


  • It is natural to resist change and disruption.
  • Your boss will be no exception.
  • He/she will want to keep you and may well attempt to do so with a counter offer.
  • In his/her eyes, your acceptance of a new job is definitely a mistake.

Of course it is flattering that your company is concerned to hear that you are leaving, so your emotions can obscure the reasons behind to leave. It is natural to be apprehensive about leaving and to let that one final nagging doubt about doing the right thing grow out of proportion the more your boss tries to convince you. But remember why you chose to look for a new job in the first place. Remember that if you stay, there will always be question marks over your loyalty, which will undoubtedly affect your future promotion prospects (even though you may be told otherwise), and if the company suffers a downturn in business then who do you think will be first out the door? Oh, and does this mean that the next time you want a pay rise/promotion you will have to resign all over again?

Be aware – the counter offer is only a belated recognition of the contribution you have made to the company – if it had come unprompted, wouldn’t that be a lot more flattering (and sincere)? There are plenty of good employers out there who offer promotional opportunities and pay rises without the need for you to resign.