Breaking up is hard to do a.k.a how to resign gracefully

There’s no around it, resigning is hard. You’ve invested time and energy with your employer. Even if you hate your job, the people there and everything around it, tendering your resignation is perhaps one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.

If you like the people you work with, or have some measure of guilt about leaving your employer or colleagues “in the lurch”, you’re going to feel mildly panicked.

If you are at the end of a dark and troubled road with your employer, you may be fighting the urge to blurt out all the things you hate about them, in the vein of “and another thing”. This will not get you anywhere incidentally. You’ll be leaving and won’t benefit from any moment of clarity or remorse you feel they should have. Plus, theres a strong chance that nothing will change and you’ll have invested a lot of time and energy in getting worked up over nothing.

So how do you resign well? Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Write down all the reasons you are leaving on a piece of A4 – then refine it into two our three bullet points. These are the key messages you are going to give your employer if asked. There’s no need to go into detail, keep it brief. You don’t want to give them ammunition for a counter offer (…more on that later) or force yourself into a situation where you could become emotional or you could be challenged.

  2. Practice the conversation you are going to have with your employer with a friend or partner. Try to keep it to a few sentences. Go over it several times until you are clear and confident. Ask your rehearsel buddy to ask some follow on questions and practice your answers; for example, why are you leaving.

  3. Prepare your resignation letter in advance so you can hand it to your line manager during your meeting. Brevity is key – the fact that you are resigning, confirm your last working date and a thanks for the opportunities the company has afford you.

  4. When you speak to your line manager about your resignation, go armed with a plan to help them with the transition. It’s unlikely that they are going to recruit a replacement for you and have them start before you leave. They’re going to have concerns about workload. Helping them prepare will make their life a lot easier in hyour final weeks – that will make it less stressful for you and your colleagues. Prepare a list of your duties in advance and note how you propose they be reallocated or covered in the interim. Employers and coworkers really appreciate this. It will also help alleviate any feelings of guilt you may have, particularly if you are leaving on good terms. It’s worth noting that you never know who you are going to have to work with in the future- and leaving a good taste in the mouth could help you in a few jobs down the line – you never know when your former manager may reappear in a new company.

  5. Expect the counteroffer ! Most employers will try to persuade you to stay – do not be tempted by this, and if you are tempted by this, at least stop and give it some thought. In the majority of cases, people who stay with their employers after they’ve resigned, end up looking for another job. The truth is that more often than not the old problems you have still remain. Moving on is rarely ever only about money. Even if you get a pay bump all the othe frustrations will still be there. Personally, I’ve always found the counteroffer based on money rather insultijng – if I was worth that, why wasn’t I paid that all along? Of course, the answer is simple. The cost of recruiting and training a new staff member, along with all the hidden costs of losing an employee (eg relationships with customers) is huge – who wouldn’t want to avoid that burden? Of course, there may be those rare occassions when taking the counter offer is the right thing to do but they’re few and far between. Last week I talked about my “Why” or “So What” exercise to better understand your objectives and what you need from a job. Keep remembering this – will a few hundred pound a year really make the difference?

So if you are one of the many people who are looking for a new job, keep these in mind. You too can have a pain free resignation.

Helen Treharne

I’m Helen Treharne, fiction author an creator of The Sophie Morgan Vampire Series. I live in South Wales with my husband, young son and rescue cat.
My books are available at all major digital retailers with soft back copies also available from Amazon, Createspace and other stores.
When I’m not writing fiction, I blog at, sharing my experiences of being a busy parent jugging working, writing, and more. Follow me there for my personal insights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Checkbox GDPR is required


I agree