In most cases, resigning is an exciting but scary experience. On one hand, you’re likely pursuing a better opportunity, such as a new job or starting your own business. On the other hand, letting go of a stable job is always tough. This is especially true if you’re leaving your job to launch a company, or commit to your existing business full-time.
Regular employment provides more than just a regular paycheck. It provides a network of relationships and opportunities. Fortunately, you don’t have to give those things up.
By resigning professionally, you can make sure you don’t close any doors or sour any relationships. In this post, I’ll cover how to do just that.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
Resigning from your job, especially a good one, isn’t a decision to make suddenly. Many people spend years building their business on the side before taking the leap. Only you know when you’re ready to leave your full-time jobbehind.
Before you take the the plunge, there a few things to consider.
Line Up Your Savings
Do you have any savings to fall back on? Being a successful entrepreneur is about balancing risk with reward. You can remove some of the risk if you have money in the bank to get you through the hard times. Even very successful businesses sometimes run into cash flow shortfalls, so make sure you can cover your personal expenses if you don’t get paid for a while.
Whether you’re starting up or scaling up, you need to plan for how things will change once you commit to your business full-time. What additional responsibility will you be taking on? How will you grow? If your business doesn’t grow, you may regret leaving your old job behind. Have a plan to make sure it does.
Prepare for a Lifestyle Change
Things are going to be different when you’re working for yourself. And that’s ok. Great actually. You’ll have more freedom and the control to work how you want, where you want, and when you want. This includes control over your own compensation package.
Do you have unused vacation days? Use them up before you go. You may not get another chance to take time off for a while.
Do you rely on company health care benefits? Get your own plan lined up before you let go. Can you work at home or do you need an office away from home? Don’t forget to account for the cost of a workspace.
Are you willing and able to hold yourself accountable for getting things done? You have to be your own boss now.
How To Resign Professionally
If you’ve made your decision and laid the groundwork for resigning, here’s how to do it right. It doesn’t matter what your relationship with your employer is. Whether it’s awesome or awful, don’t ruin it. You never know when you’ll run into people in the future when they could help—or harm—you. Keep things friendly.
If you have had a negative experience, take a moment and tell yourself how right you are. And then move on. Now is not the time to air your grievances. Do not try and prove a point.
No matter what, give your employer two weeks notice. This is widely accepted as the standard and it’s the professional thing to do. If you have a good relationship with your employer, you may want to offer more notice to give them ample time to fill your shoes.
However, just because you give notice doesn’t mean your employer will accept it. It is within their rights to terminate your role immediately and some employers prefer not to have people around after they’ve resigned. Be prepared for this outcome.
Also, consider how much support you’re willing to provide during the transition. Plan your limits ahead of time. How involved will you be in finishing up projects, handing over responsibilities, and hiring and training your replacement? Decide on this ahead of time so that you don’t over-promise let your employer down.
Oh, and before you do anything else, read over your contract or the terms of your employment. You don’t want any surprises!
Write Your Resignation Letter
When it comes to actually writing your resignation letter, there are a few best practices to consider.
Don’t take too long to make your point or beat around the bush. Be upfront with what your message. Your boss shouldn’t be left wondering what you’re trying to say. They should know right away.
You don’t need to explain yourself. I repeat, you don’t need to explain yourself. You are under no obligation to do so. However, if you want to, you can. Just know that whatever you say could be held against you in the future. Especially if you end up trying to come back.
Even if you hate your boss, you should be polite. Remember, there’s no point in destroying relationships just to make a point. Ideally, go beyond polite and include something nice. Thank your employer for the experience and opportunity.
Outline Next Steps
Your resignation letter is also a good time to outline how much help you’re willing to provide during the transition. How long you’re willing to stay and how involved you’re willing to be in this process. Lay clear boundaries and don’t overcommit yourself. Remember that you don’t have to provide any support, but it is a nice, professional thing to do.
What Happens Next
After you submit your letter of resignation, your boss may want to chat with you. Especially if they didn’t see it coming. At this point, you may want to discuss more of your reasons, such as wanting to focus on your own business—but you’re not obligated to.
There may also be some steps you need to take with your human resources department. Once you’ve confirmed your resignation with them, consider making a personal statement to the rest of the company.
A personal statement allows you to take control of the messaging around your departure, rather than letting the rumor mill run wild. Let your fellow employees know that you’re leaving, why (you can be vague), thank them and let them know you enjoyed working with them, and share contact info so they can keep in touch.
That’s it. It’s a big, sometimes scary, step, but you’re moving on to better things. Best of luck with your next opportunity. If you’re resigning to start or grow your own business, subscribe to this blog for great tips and advice.
Have you quit your job to become a full-time entrepreneur? Brag about it in the comments!