How to resign without burning your bridges

1 minute read | 9 May 2022

In the world of work, we can find ourselves switching roles or places of employment until we settle down long term. Studies show that the average person stays in a job for roughly 4 years, meaning you are likely to get a lot of practice in quitting jobs over the course of your career.
However, just because you have left a job, this does not mean you should end communication all together (unless there are specific reasons to do so). Throughout life, it is important to keep connections strong with the right people, and because we are you career partner for life, we will look at the ways in how to resign without burning your bridges. 

There are many reasons why you would want to stay in touch with a previous company, asides from keeping friendships you have made there.
It is often in a person’s best interest to keep opportunities and communication open, should you ever want or need to return to that place of employment. By not burning bridges, you will maintain your professionalism and keep a career network open, allowing you to seek advice from that community, should you ever need it.
Quitting a job, does not necessarily mean you had a negative experience, but whatever the reason, it is important to have some formality and grace when resigning. 

Give Notice.

The first stage of resigning is to write up a resignation letter giving notice, according to your company’s policy. This is usually between two weeks to a month in advance of leaving. Giving too much notice however (such as 3 months), is never a good idea as this will immediately change the working dynamic. Dragging out your resignation will cause you to be an outsider to the rest of the team and might make leaving on good terms more difficult. It will make it tricky when assigning long term goals and future plans for the business, if they know you will not be there for it.
It is wise to be flexible in stating your final working date, but to also make sure it aligns with when you are entering into your new role elsewhere.

Depending on your position within the team, you may be involved with an exit strategy regarding handing over tasks, responsibilities or training new staff. Therefore, it is important to give some notice to your departure in order to enable a smooth transition.
The first person you should inform, is your manager, as you do not want them hearing the news from anybody else. This can be in the form of a letter, email or meeting.
We will outline some examples of written resignations further on in this article.
Be prepared to give some reasons as to why you are leaving, even if it is as simple as finding a new job or career which aligns more with your goals.

Express gratitude.

Even if you are happy to be moving on from your old job, it is in your best interest to adopt a mindset of appreciation for the colleagues you are leaving behind, as well as any skills and experiences you have learned along the way.
If there were bad times in the company, there are likely to be positive experiences as well, so it is important to be grateful for the time you have spent there. You can express this by outlining the positives in your resignation, and by individually talking to your colleagues after informing you management.
Leaving a good impression is beneficial to any future roles, as it shows professionalism and highlights your value as a team member. Nurturing your reputation is always a smart move, as you may be expected to produce a referral from previous employment at certain parts of your career journey.

Exit interviews.

Be prepared to have an exit interview, which is basically the opposite of a job interview. It is a discussion with the management about why you’d like to leave the role.
This is your opportunity to outline your reasons in quitting a job, and feedback any positive or negative experiences. It is often done out of formality, to go over any details not outlined in your resignation letter. Businesses utilise this meeting to identify areas in which they can improve retention and engagement with employees, so if you have any suggestions for improvement, you have the right to state these in the exit interview.
There may be instances where it is tempting to go overboard in outlining your negative experiences by shouting or storming out. However, handing such feelings with grace, will only reinforce your good character.

Examples of resignation letters.

Read our article on resignation templates here.
Below are some examples of how to format and write your resignation.

Dear [Manager’s name],

I am writing to formally notify you of my resignation from my position as [job title] with [company name]. In accordance with the companies notice period, my final day will be [date of last day].

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to have worked in the position for the past [time in employment]. I have learned a great deal during my time here and have enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues. I will look back at my time here as a valuable period of my professional career. 
During the next [notice period in weeks] I will do what I can to make the transition as smooth as possible and will support in whatever way I can to hand over my duties to colleagues or to my replacement. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do to assist in this process.
[Your Name]

If you are wanting to outline any specific reasons behind the resignation, you can do so in a professional manner.
Examples of these are:

“During my time at [company name], I have come to realise that the scope of the role is unfortunately not what I had anticipated, and as such, I would like to explore other opportunities.”

“I have been offered another role that will halve my daily commute and allow me to spend more time with my family outside of working hours.”

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