You have an in-demand job that pays well, the commute is bearable, and the benefits are considerable, but there seems to be something missing.  You are miserably bored and the thought of spending the next five years of your life performing the same mundane tasks leaves you feeling like your are trapped in your very own Groundhog Day.  Maybe, you love what you do and your coworkers, but your boss’s management style makes work seem more like a prison than an office. Or alternatively, you have an amazing job, a rockstar boss, and are highly compensation, but you were just offered your dream position and simply cannot turn it down.  Whatever the reason for your resignation, you should have a good exit strategy when parting ways with your employer.

You may be romanticizing the idea of flipping over your desk or having a brutally honest “tell you what I really think” moment, exiting in a blaze of glory.  However, you may want to wrangle in your emotions and consider the importance of leaving on a high note. A Robert Halfstudy showed that 83% of HR managers believe that how someone quits affects their future career opportunities. It is imperative to leave as gracefully and professionally as possible because you never know when you might encounter a former colleague or need a future reference.

Turning in a resignation is not an easy task.  Even if you hate your job, boss, or are about to be fired, it is still difficult to tactfully resign.  It may be even harder when you love your job but are ready for a change.  Here are a few tips for making a graceful exit, regardless of the circumstances.

Before you take the plunge

Before turning in your resignation, it is important to make sure that you are prepared to leave.  You do not want to hang out a sign indicating that you have one foot outside of the door, but you can quietly clear out your desk and clean up your computer.  Remove personal files and save anything that you may want to keep to a cloud-based drive, or email copies to yourself.  It is important to leave anything that may be deemed proprietary information to avoid unnecessary drama or legal issues.  Employers are leery of allowing exiting employees to have free range of their systems, and you may not have access to your computer once you resign, making it important to have copies of everything that you need before giving notice.

Make your resignation letter count

How you write a resignation letter may be key to remaining on good terms with your company.  A resignation letter is a short document that formally apprises an employer of your intent to leave your current position. A well-written resignation letter can assist with helping to maintain a positive relationship by leaving a tactful and strong final impression.  Here are a few tips for composing your letter:

  1. Use business letter format to make a professional impression. At the top of the document, include your contact information, the date, and your company’s contact information.
  2. State your exit date. The most important thing that you need to convey in your letter is when you will be leaving the company.  You can provide the exact date or specify that you are leaving two weeks from the current date.
  3. Keep it brief. You do not need to elaborate on why you are leaving.  Simply state that you are leaving and when your last day will be.
  4. Offer thanks. Consider thanking your employer for the employment opportunity and the experience that you gained.
  5. Stay positive. It is best to keep things simple and to avoid mentioning anything negative about your employer or coworkers.  Leaving bad commentary behind may come back to haunt you.  You simply never know whose path you may cross in the future.
  6. Offer help. Offering to aid in the transition process, such as training your replacement, is a great way to show that you still care about the wellbeing of the company.
  7. Notify the correct individuals. Make sure to inform your employer and to send a letter to human resources so that a copy can be kept on file.
  8. Check out samples. To help with compiling your letter, look up online resignation letter samples and edit the documents to reflect your personal situation.

Consider your timing

You may have spent years in your position generating a wealth of documents and information, leaving big shoes to fill.  It may be hard to pick up the pieces after your leave, and your employer may need time to think through all of the matters that may need to be addressed before your departure.  Make sure to provide at least a two week notice so that your employer has time to adequately address any lingering issues.

You should be well acquainted with your workplace and the work-life schedule.  Try to avoid quitting during peak seasons when your team counts on you the most.  Finish major, critical projects and tie up all loose ends.

Finish Strong

Nothing leaves a better final impression than a strong finish.  Your final days are not the time to shut down and tune out.  Not slacking off shows your colleagues that you truly care about minimizing the impact that your resignation will have on the team.  Share information with your colleagues about clients and projects and provide documentation of any useful processes that may help your predecessor.  Aim for making it as easy as possible for someone to pick up where you leave off.

Have a positive exit interview

Exit interviews give organizations the opportunity to learn how they can improve, but this does not give you creative license to endlessly ramble about why you hated your job.  Use the conversation to convey your gratitude for the opportunities you were afforded, discuss what you learned, and provide light-handed, constructive feedback, if you anticipate that it will be well received.  A positive interview will demonstrate your professionalism and possibly allow you to use your employer as a future reference.