People resign from their jobs for various reasons, including career advancement and a dislike for a manager or company. Regardless of the reason, resigning typically isn’t easy. Nevertheless, it is critical to resign with class and dignity.

Strategies for resigning with class

  • Give ample notification. Two weeks is standard, but some organizations require that you give additional notice. Consult your employee handbook for details.
  • Work diligently to complete all projects before your departure.
  • Organize your files and prepare detailed notes for your successor to pick up where you left off.
  • Volunteer to help your current employer find your replacement and/or to train him/her.
  • If you are expected to meet with Human Resources for an “exit interview,” remember to keep it professional. Don’t use this as an opportunity for a gripe session.
  • Say “thank you” before you leave.

The counteroffer

To entice you to stay (and to perhaps avoid the stress of conducting a search), some managers will present you with a counteroffer. Studies show that most employees who accept a counteroffer do not stay in those jobs for long, particularly because your commitment to the organization will be questioned from that point forward.

Bottom Line: As a general rule of thumb, it is not a good idea to accept a counteroffer from your current employer.

Writing a professional resignation letter

It is good practice to follow up your verbal resignation with a written letter to your manager. It also is recommended that you carbon copy the Office of Human Resources. Regardless of your feelings for the job, your letter should be polite and professional.

Below are tips for writing a resignation letter:

  • Keep it short and concise. It is not necessary to give a detailed explanation for your departure. You can simply state that you are leaving your position to pursue other professional endeavors.
  • Specify your last day of work with the organization.
  • End the letter on a positive note, e.g. thank your manager and the organization for opportunities presented during your tenure of employment. 

Keep in mind that the professional arena is small and that people talk. So, be careful of what you say; avoid making negative statements or petty comments. After all, you might need to tap your former manager or former co-worker to serve as a reference one day.