Office space with smiling employees as one enjoys resigning from their job in grace

How To Leave A Job With Grace - Without Burning Any Bridges

After a job search comes accepting a job offer. After accepting an offer comes resigning from your current role. 

Giving notice can be stressful and difficult, even mixed with the happiness of moving on to the next stage in your career. The thing to do is resign with grace and not burn bridges with your now-former employer to protect your professional integrity in your industry. Here are 7 steps to help guide you through managing your resignation. 

Step 1: Process your feelings about leaving

It’s normal to have second thoughts about leaving your job. Even though much preparation and thought has gone into the decision to leave, the task of actually giving your notice can still be daunting and emotional. The safety and comfort of the known is being set aside for a new endeavor along your career path. Keep reminding yourself that there is a reason you decided to move on and “safety” is not more important than anything else when it comes to your professional future.

Step 2: Make a clean break

Sometimes an employer will offer you more money, a better title, or any other mix of benefits to make you want to stay where you are. Whether it’s to avoid having to replace you or because they truly value you as an employee, the result is the same. Unless you already know that you can be persuaded to stay, it is best to make a clean break and avoid a counteroffer.

Ask your boss to meet with you privately right away, whether virtually or in-person, setting the stage for the conversation and indicating what is about to come. During the meeting, get to the point and stick to the facts to keep the conversation as short as possible. Let them know that you have already accepted another offer and will be vacating your current position. Thank them graciously for what you have gained from your time with them and express hope that you may continue to have a positive relationship in the future.

Taking the time to thank your bosses and key stakeholders leaves the door open for future opportunities, allows you to retain mentorship, and keeps your colleagues in your network.

Step 3: Don't justify your decision

The time to communicate unhappiness in your role has passed. You do not need to back up your decision to leave with reasons as though they are up for negotiation, or as though you have a negative impression of the company. The opportunity to share constructive feedback will come with your exit interview. This way you can thoughtfully prepare your leaving comments and frame them as intended to help shape the future of the organization.

Step 4: Recognize panic and reassure

No matter what you do or when you leave, your resignation is likely to cause disruption and inconvenience to someone. Your manager is entitled to their own feelings in response to the stressful situation of you leaving the business. It is possible for you to have to face them being upset, blaming you for leaving them short-handed, or suggesting your disloyalty to them, though these would be very unprofessional actions for them to take.

Regardless of their reaction, they are capable of handling the situation. Offer to be a resource to them as much as possible during your notice period to protect your professional image and set the organization up for minimal difficulty.

Step 5: Avoid the counteroffer

If a company still makes you a counteroffer at this stage, remember that you have already decided against remaining with the company. As good as receiving a counteroffer may feel, it is not always in your best interest to continue with an organization where your true value is only addressed at the point of leaving. As soon as the novelty of an increased salary and responsibilities wears off, you will be back where you were.

Of candidates who accept a counteroffer:

  • 80% will leave the organization within 6 months.
  • 50% will be back on the job market in 2 months.

Be firm and reply something like this:

"I do appreciate that you would like me to stay. This was not an easy decision, but my decision is final. I have already accepted another offer and will be leaving the organization."

This approach will allow the focus to shift to making a smooth transition.

Step 6: Tie up loose ends

At this point, the mission becomes to make your transition as easy as possible for your team, your boss, and those with whom you work closely. Take the time to tie up loose ends on your work, delegate unfinished tasks, save records for others to reference, and prepare instructions where necessary for others to follow. This is the best way not to only avoid burning bridges but set yourself up for a good recommendation in future.

In the meantime, set an Out of Office message alerting colleagues or clients of your impending departure. This helps you make sure to communicate the information if you cannot manage to hold a conversation with each interested party.

Here is an example that informs your readers and introduces them to their new contact:

Thank you for your email. As of [date], I no longer work at [name of company] and, unfortunately, cannot answer your message. Please feel free to direct all future inquiries to [first name, last name] at [email] or [phone]. He/she will be happy to help you. Your email will not be forwarded automatically.

Step 7: Make meaningful connections

Get connected with your colleagues, clients, vendors, and others in your workplace on LinkedIn. Share personal contact information via handwritten notes or emails with those whom you had a particularly good relationship. Collect their contact information in return.

Prior to coming aboard your new company, get connected with your interviewers and hiring managers on LinkedIn. This allows a step toward a mental transition and provides some exposure to team members from the beginning.

Computer Futures is here to help

Your career is arguably one of the more important things in your life, and it is important to us too. Our recruitment consultants are able to help you through your transition, from the beginning of your job search to well into your establishment in your new position. We are here as a career partner to support your journey at every step.

Whether you’re a professional looking for a job or a business seeking highly skilled talent, the team at Computer Futures are here for you. By combining our local expertise and specialist market knowledge, we can provide expert recruitment and employment solutions across a range of IT markets.