There’s a lot of clichés out there about millennials. Apparently, we love avocado’s more than we love being able to put a deposit down for a house! We’ve also been classified as non-committal, which contradicts the aforementioned love of avocados, but I digress. Yet, when it comes to the workplace, the non-committal statement is not entirely inaccurate – according to a survey from Deloitte in 2018, that surveyed over 10,000 millennials, 43% of millennials plan to leave a job within two years and only 28% plan to stay beyond five years.
Another study found that more than half of working Britons “are not sure” if they’re in the right career, with 47% of people admitting they don’t find their careers fulfilling. So, what does this mean, beyond a whole lot of job swapping and trying out different careers? At the end of the day, it means you’re going to be writing a new resignation letter every few years. I’ve handed in two in the past two years – so if you need any help, read on to discover how to resign the right way.
Just like most things in your career, there’s a right way and wrong way to go about it. Jobs and circumstances may differ, but at the end of the day, you should try to leave on a respectful note, with all loose ends tied up and everyone excited about your next steps – not willing you to leave even sooner. So here’s how to do it.
Don’t Jump the Gun
First and foremost, do not go about anything until you have a signed offer letter, or better yet – a signed contract. As my dad has always told me (and probably the only advice of his I actually listen to), nothing is final until the signature is on the dotted line. Or as Stevie Wonder once sang, “signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!” You don’t want to resign, only for something to fall through and for you to be stuck in a lurch, with no source of income.
Talk to Your Team Before You Put it in Writing
After the contract for your new job is signed and sorted, it’s time to get the resignation process rolling in your current place of employment. First off, have a private conversation with your supervisor, informing them of the news. Discuss any specifics of your departure at this time. Following this, provide them with written confirmation of your resignation.
In the letter (or email), reiterate that you’ve previously discussed this in person, and what your final date will be – make sure to check your contract for how much notice you have to give and confirm with your manager if you’re owed any holiday leave. Follow this with something you’ve enjoyed about your role, something you’ve learnt, a joyful experience – if you haven’t necessarily had any of these (not all jobs are good jobs), then thank them for the experience of the job itself. End it with offering any help to ease the transition – whether that be assisting with sifting through applications, notifying any colleagues/partners/stakeholders who need to know, or writing a thorough handover document.
Mean What You Said in Your Resignation Letter
One of the best ways to end things on a good note in your current place of employment is to follow through. If you offered to write a handover, write the best handover that place has ever seen. I can guarantee you that the easier you make it for future you (or as I like to call them, Kate 2.0), the more grateful everyone will be in the long run for the work you’ve done, and for the ease you provided throughout a period of transition.
Leave the Place the Way You Found it
Everyone wants to leave a lasting mark on their workplace – but don’t leave any literal ones. Your desk needs to appear as if you were never there. When you first came into your current job, was your desk covered in papers, notebooks and pens, were the drawers brimming full of useless knick-knacks? Most likely not. I can’t imagine what Kate 2.0 would have thought if I’d left the can of chicken soup, half-roll of toilet paper I don’t remember putting in there, and a bottle of bubbles in my drawers. So empty it all out! And don’t wait until your last day to do so, because you’ll be surprised at how much desk clutter you’ve accumulated over the years – some of which may need to be carted home over several trips.
Recycle papers and make sure anything important is filed or given to another team member. Save everything you need from your computer and phone (making sure that you’re not taking any confidential information) and don’t forget to hand those devices back in too.
Go Out Grateful
Don’t air your grievances with your fellow co-workers – exit interviews exist for a reason. You don’t want to be remembered as the person who went out bitching. People may ask why you’re leaving, just remember you don’t have to give them a reason. You can say personal reasons, change of pace, wanting to experience something different. All vague without being rude.
I was at a networking brunch recently when someone asked for tips on how to leave a job to do something completely different, without burning bridges. I didn’t have the chance to say anything but I wanted to tell her that it’s so common – no one expects you to only have one interest and one career path for the rest of your life. I’m going to work for a charity that’s very close to my heart, so that’s what I told people. Be honest without being rude or extra – keep the bridges with your co-workers as strong as possible.
Say Some (Lovely) Goodbyes
Some people despair of it, but I think it’s good to send a nice group email to colleagues before you go. If you work for a large company, no need to copy the whole office into it, but at least copy those you worked closely with.
If there’s anyone you worked particularly closely with, feel free to give them a little handwritten card, expressing how they’ve helped you during your time there – everyone loves to feel appreciated. I made two people tear up with my farewell cards to them!
Don’t cut off relationships once you leave. Some may lull for a little as you settle into your new role, and some may fizzle out naturally, but these people are part of your professional network, and it’s best to healthily maintain your networks. Just like a plant, don’t overwater it, but remember to take care of it.
And make sure you work up until the end. People are very understanding in the last week of your notice period, but you don’t want to be remembered as the person who did literally nothing after handing in their notice. I’m not saying give 120%, but keep the momentum going until the very end.
And if the statistics are right, go ahead and resign the right way in another two years or so.
Words by Kate Edwina