How To Resign From a Job Gracefully in 5 Steps (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 13, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Video: How To Write A Resignation Letter: Example and Guide

Many professionals resign from their positions to seek new opportunities. Resigning gracefully from a position helps you effectively transition from one career opportunity to the next while maintaining good relationships with your colleagues. Learning to resign with professionalism increases your chances of getting positive references from your former coworkers.

In this article, we discuss how to resign gracefully from any position.

Related: What Is an Internal Transfer Resignation Letter? (Plus Examples)

What does it mean to resign gracefully?

When you notify your employer of your intention to leave your job, resigning gracefully means you are doing so in a dignified and respectful way. When you resign gracefully, you achieve several things:

  • You maintain goodwill with your employer, which can help you get a positive reference and perhaps work with them again in the future.

  • You can have time to resolve work and train coworkers to perform your duties when you leave.

  • You demonstrate to your new employer that you care enough to resign respectfully and likely may encourage them to show you the same grace.

Read more: How To Quit a Job in a Professional Manner

How to resign gracefully

Resigning appropriately from a position takes careful planning, so take some time after receiving another job offer to make sure you do it right. Follow these steps to resign gracefully and leave your job in a positive manner:

1. Notify your supervisor

Tell your supervisor you intend to leave your job before notifying your coworkers and clients. Ideally, notify your supervisor about your resignation in person. If this is not possible, perhaps due to your location, discuss your decision with your supervisor over the phone. Mention the following points during your conversation:

  • When you intend to leave your job.

  • Your reason for leaving, such as going back to school or accepting a new job.

  • Your thanks for the opportunities you've had in your role.

You can also discuss what may happen next. Talk about how your coworkers and clients, if appropriate, may learn you are leaving. Your supervisor might like to announce the news at a meeting or prefer you to write a group email. You can also discuss your transition plan. For example, you could volunteer to train staff on how to perform your duties or agree to answer any questions after you leave.

Related: Guide To Vacation Leave Letters: Definition, Template and Sample

2. Submit your resignation letter

Submitting a professional resignation letter formally tells your company you may leave your position. It is not required in many modern workplaces, but some businesses still prefer this paperwork. You may submit your resignation letter when you notify your supervisor if you meet with them in person. Alternatively, you could submit your resignation letter shortly after your discussion, ideally on the same business day.

Your resignation letter may contain the following information:

  • A statement of your resignation

  • The date of your last day of employment

  • Sincere gratitude to your employer for the experience

  • Information about the transition, such as who can take over your duties

  • Your contact details, especially if you have volunteered to answer any job-related questions after you leave

Some companies prefer hard copy resignation letters, while others accept resignation letters via email. Check with your supervisor about which format they would prefer if you are unsure.

Read more: How To Write a Resignation Letter (With Samples and Tips)

3. Work through your notice period

You can work as you normally would through your notice period. This is usually a period of two weeks, but it is often more respectful to offer three or four weeks' notice, depending on your role or your organization. Refer to your contract, union agreement or employee handbook to learn how much notice is required. If you cannot find this information, ask your supervisor. You may like to give more than the required notice if your job is complex or you resign during a busy period.

Arrive on time and complete all tasks efficiently and punctually during your notice period. Try to resolve your part in any projects or ongoing cases, and organize your files to make your successor's transition easier. Document your typical processes and provide progress reports on any projects so someone else can easily resume your work.

These efforts during your notice period can help you leave a lasting positive impression. Note that your employer may terminate your employment immediately, especially if you have a new role with a competing organization. If this occurs, leave your workplace immediately after submitting your resignation notice.

Read more: Q&A: How Much Notice Should I Give When Leaving a Job

4. Return any company property

Return any property you have been using during your employment that does not belong to you. This might include laptops, smartphones, company files and vehicles. Being proactive about returning these items reflects positively on you. If possible, return all items in the condition you received them. Delete personal files and contact information from electronic devices before returning them.

Related: 20 Reasons to Quit a Job Without Another Lined Up

5. Take personal items home

On your last day of employment, clean up your desk and take all personal items home. Take notes of contact details for colleagues you want to stay in touch with, as you may not be able to access them once you leave. Leave your workspace clean for the next employee.

These steps can apply to most workplaces, but some employers have their own resignation procedures. Consult your employee handbook to make sure you follow your employer's preferred resignation process.

Related: 10 Things To Do at Work After Resigning

Tips for resigning gracefully

Following preferred resignation procedures can help you leave your job gracefully. However, these additional strategies can make you look more dignified when you resign.

  • Keep your communication positive: Regardless of your motivation for leaving your job, communicate your decision to your workplace in a positive way. Focus on the skills you have learned, the friendships you have made and the positive experiences you have had when talking to people in your current and new place of employment.

  • Limit talk of your new job: While you are working out your notice, focus on your current job rather than your next opportunity. You can certainly answer any questions people have about your next role, but speak humbly and keep your answers concise.

  • Be open to staying longer: Some employers may ask you to stay longer to help them transition to the company without you. If you can stay longer, giving an extended notice period can endear you to your employer. If you cannot stay longer, be honest about your situation and say you are sorry you cannot help.

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