Quitting your job smoothly is an art. You don’t need a smoking gun reason for resigning your job, it could be a combination of worries weighing on your minds for too long: the disconnection with personal or professional life; the stagnated and uninspiring working atmosphere; not being appreciated or underutilized. Compounded together, these reasons serve as a huge eureka moment.

You realize you need more stimulation outside this environment, and it’s time to embark on another journey to accommodate the career planning you have for yourself. Therefore, there comes a time in life that you’ll encounter the question of “how do I leave my job gracefully?” This article focuses mainly on the US job market considering the relevant perks you should receive before resignation.

In this ultimate resignation guide, we’ll delve into three parts: 

Hope these nuggets of wisdom can either help you with your future planning or assist you to skedaddle out of your job. 

A Resignation Checklist:
Are you Ready to
Move on?

Quitting can be nerve-wracking, if not handled appropriately. It’s too big a decision to make mistakes without realizing it. Therefore, a resignation checklist or a gut checklist is a must before you hand over the resignation letter.

  • What prompts you to leave the current job? 
  • Have you weighed the pros and cons of leaving this current job? 
  • Do you have Plan B? 
  • Is there enough support after you quit your job?

Don’t be overwhelmed with these questions. Let’s chew over one by one.

Financial Wise

You want to be able to sustain yourself for at least three to six months, this is for folks who want to lay back a bit without rushing to another job directly. An ideal gap between jobs is around 3 months, or else your next employer might be suspicious of the long gap.

Skills Wise

You should look objectively in terms of your skillset. Is it sufficient to advance to another job?  For rookies, abilities have yet to be accumulated, and you might want to stay for a while to learn skills that can advance you to another job; but for veterans, it’s hard to tell the difference between whether you've reached professionalism or the learning curve simply is stagnant. If your current skill set can’t meet the JD of another specialized job, it might be better to remain the status quo.

If not… What to do?

After going through the aforementioned questions and put things into perspective, you realize that there are other options other than quitting your job. It could be you want to extend your tenure in a company and accumulate more experiences. Or, you figure a couple of good nights’ sleep can restore your energy. No matter what, here are pieces of advice for you to change the situation you’re in now.

1. Seek Help from Inside or Outside the Company

Talk to your supervisor and discuss the conundrum you’re stuck in might be a good start, he or she might be able to make adjustments that suit you. Besides, you can always talk to your teammates and ask them to give you a fair and objective overview; this way, you might be able to identify some problems you weren’t aware of.

No one wants to be vulnerable in the workplace for fear that they might be regarded as incompetent employees, but generally speaking, if you pluck up the courage to ask, you might receive some rewarding feedback. If that’s too intimate, ask someone you deeply respect outside the company. There might be some alternatives to solve the dilemma, resignation is after all, not always a panacea.

2. Career Change Within the Company

If cumulating cross-disciplinary expertise is the reason you want to leave, you don’t necessarily need to resign and start all over. Career change within the company is a tad bit easier, especially when you have good records, proving that you are capable of overcoming obstacles encountered. It’s more secure to invest in yourself in a fairly stable safety net. We also have a detailed career change guide that you might find useful.

3. A Long Vacation, maybe?

The easiest solution of all is to take a couple of days off. It’s hardly feasible to take a ten-day vacation and whisk away to a tranquilizing and secluded beach, but a few days off might be exactly what you need to reboot. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re engrossed in the same environment day after day. Tap on this small vacation and objectively analyze the root cause of your problem, perhaps some solutions might magically present themselves.

What’s more, a long vacation can clear your mind. Ask yourself the following questions.  Are there any adjustments that can be made? What are your career goals, long-term and short-term? What are your priorities and is the position you’re in now hindering you from fulfilling them?

6 Tips for a Successful Resignation

If you’ve firmly decided that you want to resign, here are the six tips for you to fulfill a graceful transition. Even though you plan to leave a company, it doesn’t mean that you can start bad-mouthing your co-workers or the company. You still count on the references given by your superior; therefore you want to leave them a good impression. Burning the bridge is the least you want. Remember to solidify positive perceptions about your professionalism before leaving the company. It’s easy to ruffle some feathers during the resignation process, and these tips are here to precipitate a smooth departure. Engraving them in your mind for tainted reputation can travel fast in professional networks, carelessness can leave a wake of ashes out of your old office!

#1. When to quit?

It’s a common question asked by many pondering over when is the good time to depart. Usually, employees quit their jobs after receiving a bonus or profit-sharing payout after a fiscal year ends.

The majority of American companies distribute Christmas bonuses in late December. As a result, a substantial number of employees quit their jobs in January or February. More positions become available during this time of year as employers attempt to fill newly vacant positions. 

On the other hand, employees shouldn’t quit their jobs in June, July, or August due to the sudden influx of university graduates flooding the job market. Besides, the time frame for leaving your current job can be industry-specific. If you leave a job in the middle of a large project or before the fiscal year-end can blemish your professional prowess.

#2. Take the High Road

You should take the high road with both your mentors and colleagues. Let’s talk about the relationship with mentors first. They might have invested quite a lot of time and effort in your growth, quitting in-person shows your respect and gratitude. Don’t tell your colleagues about your plans before you tell your manager about your plan to leave.  Resignation through the grapevine will leave you a damaged reputation, which can weaken your recommendations in the future. Not to mention you won’t be likely to get letters of reference. Moreover, to avoid a bolt out of the blue, before you randomly set up a meeting and tell your mentor the unfortunate news, you should first write an email to discuss your future direction with her. This way, it’ll give your mentor some time to digest the news. 

You should also be aware of your relationship with your colleagues. No matter how many past grudges you hold against your annoying teammates, lashing out to them isn’t wise. A nicely-written farewell letter to colleagues would be a more favorable gesture to say goodbye to them.

#3. Two Weeks Notice

Two week’s notice is the minimum requirement. A three to four-week notice is more sensible. Employers can’t find and train your replacement overnight, what you can do at least is to give them two weeks or longer notice.

💡 Tips: If you’re not sure the optimal amount of notice you should give, take a look at the company’s policies about resigning, a specific amount of time that you should notify beforehand should be listed.

If you’re a manager, it takes longer for the company to find a suitable fit for your position, a four to six week’s notice is mandatory in most cases. If you fail to follow the rules set either by the company or general norms, you’ll be likely to bear the brunt of the hiring mishap on your short notice, and again, taint your professional prowess.

#4. A Formal Regisnation Letter

It’s a formality you can’t skip. This letter should be submitted to both the HR department and your mentor. It’s an official document solidifying the date of your last day and other information. There will be a more comprehensive guide telling you what and what not to include in a formal resignation letter. Here are a few heads-up for you to remember when crafting the resignation letter.

  • A statement that you’re resigning.
  • The date on which your resignation is official
  • Show a brief appreciation for the company
  • Signature

And now you’re almost good to go.

Further reading: Resignation Letter Writing Guide [+Templates, Samples, Tips]

#5. Finish Strong

Just because you’re leaving your current position doesn’t mean that you can slack off. Your working attitude in the last couple of workdays tends to strike the most memorable impression on your soon-not-to-be coworkers and employer. From the moment you submit your two weeks' notice letter, there are a few things that can be done before leaving for good.

Few things that can be done before leaving for good:

1. Train your replacement

Think of it as a wrap-up, you can first list all the unfinished projects you have at hand. I’d suggest a clean slate before turning your duties to your replacement, but if there are long-term projects, then write a detailed memo about your responsibilities and what needs to be done after your departure.

2. Notifiy stakeholders who will be taking over your position

Help your replacement learn the ropes of your old role and accelerate the transition is good for your reputation, and might even boost some productivity within your team.

Besides, it’s also a good way to show gratitude. Even if you can’t directly help your replacement become savvy about all your businesses, write him/her a comprehensive guide that covers key processes, contacts, and tips.

Consider it karma. Treat your replacement the same way you want to walk into your new job.

#6. Eligibility for Your Benefits

This part addresses the needs of job-seekers in the US. There are some benefits you’re entitled to receive by law, companies may opt to provide additional benefits other than those mandated by the state or federal law. Secure information about compensation for vacation, a continuation of health coverage(COBRA or Obamacare), severance package(ordinarily it isn’t available in resignations, but you can always ask), sick pay, and if you have a 401(k) or other retirement benefits with your existing employer, find out how to roll them over into a new plan if necessary. If you have any questions on what is offered, check with your State Department of Labor for clarification, or just ask HR. 

Aside from benefits, you should also double-check whether there’s a non-compete agreement in the contract you signed when you were hired. There might be a time or geographical constraint in which you can’t work for a competitor or engage in activities that could potentially compete with the company. Be careful, or you might cost yourself a fortune when you carelessly overstep the laws.

Conclusion

After reading this guide, you should have known that your last few weeks at the company may be the busiest you’ve ever been. There’s a lot left to do in the last two or four weeks in the company. If you’re not careful enough, you could ruffle some feathers. 

With this guide, I hope you’ve nailed resignation with grace. A smooth departure is crucial for maintaining the health of your professional relationships, and being meticulous during the resignation process helps to leave a good last impression on your former employers and teammates. Good luck, no matter where you choose to go next.


Annie Lin
contributor

Annie Lin

Annie is currently a translation and interpretation graduate student who spends most of her time at home surrounded by books and freshly-made food. Whenever she yearns for nature, she’d hop on a bus or ride a bike to the nearest park where she would proceed to empty her mind and call it a day.

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