How to resign like a Pro

How to resign like a Pro – Tips from an Executive Recruiter

How to resign like a Pro – Tips from an Executive Recruiter

Time to resign? You’re not alone.

A recent survey found that 9.7% of employed Australians had changed jobs in the year ending in February 2022. (ABS)

That’s almost one in every 10 employed Australians!

Many people have seen changing to a higher paid job as a way to combat the ever increasing rise in inflation and the added pressures it has put on the cost of living.

A survey by RMIT Online also found that people are also largely seeking new jobs due to dissatisfaction with their current job. The survey revealed that 57% of respondents said not feeling valued is their primary reason for dissatisfaction with their jobs.

Whatever the reason for ending current employment, it’s clear that when it comes to careers Australians are on the move.

So we’ve talked about the why, what about the how?

Resigning is a very delicate process. It can be an emotional time for all parties involved. But when it comes to resigning it is always best to “leave the way you came”.

Meaning that, same courtesy, respect and consideration experienced during the onboarding process should also be applied to the off-boarding process.

As recruiters, we are very much involved with both stages of the employment life cycle and so we have thorough understanding of the positive impacts of leaving on good terms.

And so if you follow our guide you’ll be well on your way to a cordial ending to your employment which leaves both parties feeling satisfied.

A professional handshake Image source: Pexels

Before you begin.

A smooth resignation begins long before you decide to trigger your 4 week notice. It’s incredibly important to be sure that the decision to leave is the right one and the solution to specific issues.

As you’re beginning to think about leaving your employer it is important to ask yourself the following questions.

Are you sure this is the right choice?

It’s important to nail down your motives for leaving. Is it for career growth, higher pay, location or maybe negative cultural aspects.

Be sure that a new role will actually address these issues which you have. This could lead you to discover that perhaps your job dissatisfaction is stemming from other non-work related factors.

Have you made these issues clear to your manager?

Telling your manager about your decision to leave can be the hardest part of the resignation process for some people. Largely due to not knowing how your manager will react.

However you could reduce the surprise factor by having a meeting with management to address your concerns prior to even drafting a letter of resignation.

By making them aware of the career concerns which you are having you offer a chance for the situtation to be fixed. Potentially eliminating the need to resign in the first place.

If your concerns cannot be addressed, a good manager will respect the fact that they were given the opportunity to address the situation and won’t be shocked if you resign.

Receiving a counter offer when resigning can be tempting. Receiving a counter offer can be tempting for any employee considering resigning. Source: Pexels

Are you prepared to receive a counter offer?

A tempting counter offer can really through a spanner in the works.

Generally, once an employee is actively searching the job market they will have one foot out the door. But a counter offer, which generally involves a salary increase can be very attractive.

However it is very important to consider if the counter offer actually addresses the root issues which caused you to want to leave in the first place.

Often we see candidates who took the band-aid solution of a counter offer, only to terminate their employment months later because the root problems didn’t change.

Counter offers aren’t always guaranteed either, an employer may instead consider using the money to better nurture talent who wish to stay. So if your motivation to resign is to get a higher pay offer be warned that it could back fire.

Should you have your next role lined up?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this. It all depends on how prepared you are. If you don’t have a good financial safety net it may be worthwhile to leave with a new role secured.

Resigning without a new role will give you the flexibility and the time to find a new role which is right for you. Particularly when it comes to interviewing, as you won’t have to juggle the stress of coordinating interviews around your working hours.

Our overall recommendation is for you to at least begin a job search of the market before resigning. This will give you an idea of what is required from you to attain a new role such as further training or education.

A smooth handover when resigning is ideal
A smooth handover makes everyone happy. Source: Pexels


Still choosing to resign? Get your toolkit ready!

Resigning can get…. emotional.

So it’s good to be able to rely on a structure to help ease the stress.

These are the five steps you should take to resign as smoothly as possible.

1. Document from Day 1

A smooth handover leaves everyone happy. Your team will be grateful, your replacement will be grateful, your manager will thank you and you’ll have the satisfaction that set everyone up to succeed even after you’re gone.

The key is to record everything that is work related in your mind and to start recording early. From the week 1 of your new role you should begin making notes of the following;

  • Key day-to-day activities, processes and responsibilities
  • Access to all relevant documents and files
  • Project deadlines and status updates
  • Information about any regular/recurring meetings
  • A list of key contacts – customers, clients, stakeholders, managers
  • Login and passwords details (this depends on your organisational size, security obligations and IT setup but one to consider)

Having a stockpile of key information will also come in handy in a variety of circumstances.

2. Letter of resignation

You will always need a letter of resignation, even if you are resigning in person.

A formal letter of resignation allows both parties to have a written record.

Keep your letter of recommendation brief, courteous and most importantly keep your emotions out of it.

It should include;

  • A statement that you’re resigning
  • Your anticipated last day of work. (according to your notice period)
  • A short explanation of why you’re leaving.

You can save yourself the hassle of writing your own letter of resignation by utilising our free template here.

Resignation letter template

3. Book a face to face meeting with your manager

Time to break the news! Just like with relationships, it’s best not to do it by text..

4. Structure a plan for your resignation

Discuss how your resignation will roll out wth your manager. This would include how the news will be communicated to the team, what sort of documentation is required and how you can help to facilitate the process. This is important as it shows that even though you are resigning you are still committed to the success of the business which is crucial to maintaining a strong relationship with the team after you’re gone.

5. Reward yourself!

Anything you like! Plan something to get excited about and to help release some stress after you resign.

Some ideas could be a holiday, a fancy dinner, a fun project or professional development course you’ve never had time for.


In summary: A succesful resignation involves;

  1. Raising issues with your manager in the lead-up
  2. Having a clear picture of why you are leaving whether it be money, growth etc.
  3. Considered what it would take for you to stay / what you would do if a counter offer were to be put on the table
  4. Have your resignation toolkit ready to go including handover documents, a resignation letter and something fun to look forward to.

Got questions? Ask a recruiter!

We have guided candidates through more onboarding and off-boarding than we can count so who better to come to for advice about the resignation process?

You can contact our lovely team here.

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