The way you resign from your current job can impact the relationships you’ve spent years building. It’s essential to leave your employer gracefully, without harming your reputation or future career prospects.Assume you’re in a job where you’ve excelled, worked with fantastic people, and genuinely enjoyed your role. Now, you’re ready for a change. Leaving a job where you’ve been a dedicated and loyal employee is tough, and it’s crucial to do so without damaging your professional relationships.Honesty MattersFirst and foremost, be true to yourself. Understand why you’re leaving and discuss your decision with friends, family, and possibly your manager. Good career decisions are well-thought-out. Research your next move thoroughly to ensure it’s the right one.If you decide to resign, do it properly and professionally. A well-timed resignation letter and process can give your manager time to process the news. Often you will see advice that suggests a Friday afternoon is the best time to tell your manager, however, this might be the most terrible time. If it is likely your resignation will upsetting, consider a workday morning as a prime time to do it. You can set an expectation to meet again to discuss details in 24 hours, giving both parties time to consider their positions.Consider the content of your letter. You will be asked why you are leaving and if there is anything that can be done to keep you. This doesn’t have to be in your letter, but creating a basic reason will help you prepare for answering these questions.This approach reduces immediate emotional reactions and sets the stage for a calm discussion later.Be cautious with counter-offers. They often fail to address the real reasons you wanted to leave and can lead to further dissatisfaction.Resign with CareLeaving a job, especially one where you’ve established deep-rooted connections and honed your skills, requires a strategy that respects both your needs and those of your employer. When it’s time to resign, it’s not just about saying goodbye; it’s about closing a chapter in a way that leaves the door open for future opportunities.Once you’ve decided to resign, consider the timing and manner of your announcement. It’s advisable to have everything finalised before going public with your decision. Hasty announcements can create unnecessary turbulence within the team and might leave your manager in an awkward position.During this period, refrain from sharing negative opinions or experiences about your current employer, either in person or on social media. Such actions can permanently damage professional relationships. Remember, the world and New Zealand cities are small, and industries even smaller. You never know when your paths might cross again with former colleagues or managers.Use your exit interview as a platform to voice your thoughts constructively. If there are areas where the company could improve, present these points as constructive feedback rather than criticism. This approach not only maintains professionalism but also contributes positively to the organisation you are leaving.Your Notice Period: Making the Most of ItYour notice period is a crucial time, serving as a bridge between your current role and your next one. Treat this period as an opportunity to strengthen your professional reputation rather than just counting down the days.The length of your notice period will typically be outlined in your contract. However, consider the unique circumstances of your departure. If you play a key role in your team or are involved in critical projects, offering to stay a little longer than required can be a gesture of goodwill. This not only aids in a smoother transition but also reflects your dedication and respect for the organisation.During this time, it’s important to maintain, if not enhance, your level of professionalism and productivity. Avoid the temptation to slack off. How you handle your last few weeks will leave a lasting impression. Focus on completing outstanding tasks, documenting processes, and where possible, training your replacement or team members who will be taking over your responsibilities. This ensures that your departure does not leave a void, in-turn preserving your professional legacy.Recognising Those Who Have Made a DifferenceThroughout your time, certain individuals would have played pivotal roles in your professional growth and success. Recognising their contribution is not just a courtesy but a reflection of your character.Take the time to personally thank these individuals. This could be through a solid conversation, a note, or even a small gesture of appreciation. Express how their support, mentorship, or collaboration has been instrumental in your career. Such acknowledgements can strengthen your professional relationships and leave a positive, lasting impact. There is no reason you have to leave this until after you resign, by the way, people love hearing positive comments!Even if you’ve had challenging relationships, such as with a difficult boss, find aspects for which you can genuinely express gratitude. This approach not only helps in maintaining professionalism but also in personal growth, recognising that every interaction has a learning opportunity.Securing Endorsements for the FutureAs you prepare to leave, consider the value of endorsements and references. They are crucial tools in your career progression, serving as validations of your skills, achievements, and character.Start by understanding your organisation’s policy on providing references. Some companies may have formal processes, often handled by HR. However, personal references can often carry more weight. Approach your manager or colleagues with whom you’ve worked closely and ask if they would be willing to provide a LinkedIn recommendation or a personal reference letter.When seeking these endorsements, be specific about what you’d like them to focus on. Whether it’s your work ethic, particular projects you excelled in, or soft skills like teamwork and communication, guiding your referees can help them provide more detailed and relevant endorsements.Remember, recommendations are a two-way street. Be prepared to reciprocate by offering to endorse your colleagues as well. This not only helps in maintaining good relationships but also in building a network of mutual support.Exiting a job is a significant career step. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, show gratitude, and secure valuable endorsements for your future. By handling your exit with care, making the most of your notice period, recognising those who’ve supported you, and securing references, you can ensure that your departure is as successful as your time in the company. This approach not only sets you up for success in your next role but also solidifies your reputation as a considerate and professional person. FAQs How long should my notice period be? The standard is typically four weeks, but this can vary depending on your contract. If you responsible for something, consider seeing it through to completion even if it is beyond what your contract says. Should I discuss my resignation with colleagues before telling my manager? It’s advisable to inform your manager first to maintain professionalism. How do I handle a counteroffer? Consider your long-term career goals and whether the counteroffer aligns with them. Read our thoughts on counter offers here. Can I take a break between jobs? Yes, if financially and practically feasible, a break can provide valuable time to recharge. Is it necessary to provide a reason when I resign? While not mandatory, offering a concise, professional reason can help maintain good relationships as well as reaffirming your decision to move.