Not a time to vent: How to resign gracefully

Congratulations on landing the job offer you wanted! Now, what do you do about leaving your current position?


You will want to extend the professional courtesy of giving your employer a minimum of two weeks advance notice. There may be other issues to consider. For example, if you are working in a sales position, most often your current employer will ask you to leave immediately. The same may be the case if you’re working with highly confidential proprietary information. In these situations, the corporate policy regarding termination will reflect the intent to protect their assets by minimizing the amount of information you can provide to a competitor.

Will they try to keep you?

Do you think you may be persuaded to stay if your current employer makes a counter offer? Hopefully, your primary reason for accepting a job offer will not have been just to elicit a counter offer from your employer. However, sometimes it happens that they may be able to convince you to stay. If so, this will occur during that two-week window while they still have your attention. It is a possibility one should consider much earlier in a job search. What could they offer that would make you change your mind?

Don’t burn any bridges

The primary thing to remember is that you don’t want to burn any bridges, no matter what has happened during your employment. There is no reason to say anything negative. I have often emphasized that when you are interviewing you should not give a negative reason for leaving a company where you’ve previously worked, that you should focus on the positive reason for taking the subsequent position. Similarly, your letter of resignation is not a time to rail against all the ills of your employer.

The less said the better

You need not give any details about where you’ll be going. In fact, I encourage you not to include this in your resignation. Wait to a later time to share this information with your colleagues if you wish.

Tweet or text?

You should give your resignation to your immediate manager in person. Not on the phone, not in an email, and definitely not in a text or tweet! Make an appointment to speak with her privately. Tell her verbally and provide a written copy in traditional letter format. Don’t tell any of your coworkers before you speak to your manager. In addition to being proper professional etiquette, this is especially important should you accept a counter offer to stay. Otherwise, it could be awkward.

What should you say?

Make it simple and compliment your employer. Tell her that you are leaving the company on such-and-such date, that you’ve accepted a position at another company. Express that you appreciate all that you’ve learned or how much your career has developed while working at this organization, and how much you enjoyed being able to contribute to the success of the organization. Even if you have a poor opinion about your boss, tell her that you appreciate her contribution to your experience there. If appropriate, reassure her that you will work to make the transition of your responsibilities to someone else as seamless as possible.

“I need to let you know that I have been offered a new position at another company and am resigning effective March 25. I have really enjoyed working here, and appreciate your guidance as well as the opportunity for me to contribute to the success of our program. I realize that transferring my responsibilities to someone else will be difficult, and I will do everything I can to make it easier.’94

Be prepared to discuss this with your manager. She will most assuredly ask you why. Remember to focus on the positive.