Taking on a new role can be an exciting step in your career, but it can also be a challenging time – there are many obstacles and experiences (both good and bad) that you need to navigate. And that includes letting your current employer know that you will be moving on.

Whether it’s a fear of confrontation or concern about professional ‘bridge burning’, the reality of actually having to quit your job can be a bit more daunting than you first thought. Even if from time to time you may secretly fantasize about ‘rage-quitting’.

Our advice as recruiters, if your goal is to resign on good terms and maintain professional relationships, then your approach requires thought and planning. We’re here to help with tips and advice to positively manage your resignation, in a professional way.

Be Prepared (for anything)

Once you advise your employer of your departure, you’ll be expected to confirm your notice period which is typically included in your employment agreement. There may however be a negotiation on exactly how long this period of time will be – remembering that it should be fair and reasonable. There’s also the possibility, if both parties agree, that you can waive all or some of your notice period (paid or unpaid). Be prepared.

More broadly, make sure you understand exactly what’s required of you including for example salary/benefits, severance packages, notice periods, and any specific contract clauses like restraint of trade/non-compete requirements etc. You should find this information in your employment agreement and/or employee handbook.

You may also face a situation where your employer makes a counteroffer to encourage you to reconsider your resignation. In this scenario, you want to be clear in your mind about the reasons for leaving in the first place. Take a moment to review the details of the offer and if staying put is a possibility, start negotiating.

Draft A Resignation Letter

Putting your resignation in writing helps collect your thoughts and ensure you’re ticking all of the boxes before actually notifying your employer of your intentions. You won’t finalise the letter until you personally inform your manager, as there may be alterations to the content based on your conversation.

Even if your employer doesn’t specifically request a resignation letter, it is considered best practice to submit one as a formal step in the process. The key is being concise and including only the necessary, important details.

Careers NZ have some useful resignation letter templates available to download.

Speak With Your Manager

The preferred option is to have a meeting with your direct manager/supervisor and advise them in-person of your resignation, before speaking with anyone else in the business. As well as discussing your date of departure you may also talk about how your decision will be communicated more widely as well as any plans for a transition period and handover of work. This however could be conducted in follow-up conversations.

Be as transparent and honest as possible but only disclose what is necessary. Prepare a ‘reason for leaving’ in advance to give some context to your decision. While you are under no legal obligation to do so, your employer will at some point know about your next career move so for the sake of professional relationships and your reputation it is recommended that you share the news (if you can).

If you are struggling with negative emotions or heighten anxiety about your reason for resigning, you may want to consider giving your employer a heads-up via email in advance of the meeting. Another useful technique is to focus on when you first started with the employer, when you had a positive outlook and gratitude about your employment. This can help re-focus your thoughts and feelings.

Smooth The Path

One of the primary reasons people are often reluctant to leave their current role is because of the impact it will have on the overall business as well as their team/colleagues. Work alongside your manager/supervisor and any direct reports, to ensure a plan is in place for a smooth transition in the least disruptive way.

You are pursuing an exciting new opportunity and that’s what you want people to remember, not feelings of frustration or negativity that you are leaving them in the ‘lurch’.

The best way to approach this is:

  • Giving an adequate notice period.
  • Collaborate on a seamless transition plan, this may include being involved in the search for your replacement and their training.
  • Connect with colleagues and your wider networks about your intentions and express gratitude.
  • If you lead a team, give some thought about what you can do to help them in the short to long term.
  • Contribute meaningful, constructive feedback during your exit interview.
  • Stay positive and respectful about both your current organisation/role and your future plans.
  • Be productive, right up until your last day.
  • Remain reachable after your departure, but only for direction on important or necessary information.

The Transition To Your New Role

If you are moving to a new opportunity, in an ideal world you would organise to have a break in between roles. This gives you the headspace to relax and unwind as well as prepare for what’s next before taking on your new role, meaning you’ll start with a fresh energy and enthusiasm.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be expected to return mobile phone/s, computer equipment etc so there could be a period of time between roles where you need to make other arrangements. Also think about passwords and access to software, subscriptions, social media, insurance/healthcare etc (both personal and professional) that need to be sorted. There’s a fair bit of admin involved in changing employment.

Final Thoughts

The approach you take to how you resign as well as how you conduct yourself in the lead up to your departure will leave a lasting impression on your employer, colleagues and wider networks including customers and suppliers. The best advice… Simply apply the same values, behaviours and emotional intelligence that you exhibit every day in your working life.

Need Help?

At Decipher Group, we take your career as seriously as you do. We’ve been connecting talented people with exciting opportunities for over 15 years. Our team are fully committed to making a positive impact for our candidate communities – empowering and enabling talented people to meet their career ambitions. Let’s talk.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and hear about new role vacancies, follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions

A short Q&A with our team on related questions that people commonly search for on Google.

Can I quit without notice?

According to Employment NZ, “an employee must tell their employer in advance when they want to leave employment; this gives the employer a chance to prepare for the employee leaving”. If there is no notice period in your employment agreement, you should still make the effort to give fair and reasonable notice. This is typically 2-4 weeks’ notice, depending on the role.

What is the most professional way to say “I quit”?

Resigning in a respectful and polite manner is always the best approach. Remember that this may come as a surprise to your employer so ideally you want to be as direct as possible to avoid ambiguity. The most widely used phrase in this instance is “after careful consideration, I have decided to resign from my position”. At which point you can also provide some context around your reason for doing so.

What is Garden Leave?

Garden leave is a term commonly used to describe a period of time when an employee is still employed by a company and receives full pay but is not reporting to work. Garden leave is typically used during the notice period of either an employee resigning or if the employer ends the employment of a staff member.

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