How to resign professionally and generate references

How to Resign Like a Professional

If you're unhappy in your job, you may have been fantasizing for months about the moment you hand in your notice. In your resignation daydreams, you march into your manager's office, tell them where they can stick their job and strut out to the cheers of your colleagues as your boss begs you to come back. It would be something out of a Hollywood film, and you'd go down in history as an office legend!

Back in the real world, you have to be aware of the unspoken etiquette of resigning. Why? Because that one moment of sweet satisfaction may come back to haunt you. If you behave badly when leaving your job you can wave goodbye to good references, and possibly even your good reputation.

Here are five things to remember that will help you resign like a professional.

Be confident in your decision

Never resign on a whim. If you've had a few bad days at work, would quitting really fix the problem? Or is there a bigger issue at hand that could follow you to the next job? Make sure you've weighed up the pros and cons of leaving your current position and be confident in your decision. If it's a case of needing a pay raise or additional training, be prepared to have that discussion with your boss.

Check your contract

Different companies have different requirements when it comes to resigning. Do you know how long your notice period is? Are you obliged to provide a written letter of notice? What would happen to any unused holidays or time you have left? Make sure you've read your contract of employment so you can make the necessary arrangements before you schedule a meeting with your boss.

Remember that your boss has feelings too

If you didn't get on with your boss, don't see handing in your resignation as some kind of revenge. It won't do you any favours and may harm your future prospects.  If you got on well with your boss, they may be shocked by your decision to leave. Either way, remember that handing in your notice is the start of a new chapter for you, but for your boss it means the inconvenience of losing a member of staff and having to find a replacement.

Be considerate to your colleagues

If you've decided to resign, don't go around telling the whole office before you've spoken with your boss. That's just bad form. Once you've handed in your notice, you can tell the colleagues that will be affected by your leaving. But a word of warning -- they may be supportive of you, but that does not equal an invitation to start a smear campaign against your current employers. If you start bad-mouthing the company in front of your co-workers, you'll create a bad atmosphere and they won't thank you for it. This also applies to boasting about your new career prospects; don't do it!

Use your notice period wisely

If you truly were sick of your job, it can be tempting to do a little work as possible during your notice period. But leaving on bad terms could result in a poor reference or a reputation for being unprofessional that could affect your future career prospects. If you're handing over to another colleague or if you have to train your replacement, try to put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be treated if you were in their situation?

Follow these simple steps to resigning like a professional and you can walk out on your last day of work with you head held high.

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