Resignations can be very difficult, especially the first time around. In your first job, you typically forge your first professional relationships and develop your ability to take your career to the next level. There are many reasons to leave a job; most women leave their first jobs to go to a better work environment or for a salary increase or promotion they couldn’t attain in their first workplace. Multiple research studies have shown that psychological safety is a significant concern for women leaving the workplace; Bain found that, on average, only 25% of women feel fully included in the workplace. Regardless of your reasons, it is vital to resign well – especially from your first job, which will likely be the source of references in the future.
How you leave an organization is incredibly important. Once you’ve signed and finalized your new offer, follow these steps to resign confidently and ensure a seamless transition.
1. Make sure your resignation aligns with company policy or industry expectations.
For example, most for-profit organizations require a two-week notification, but some industries, like higher education institutions, request four weeks’ notice; others may have outlined specific notice policies in your contract or employee handbook. If your position requires specialized knowledge and you have good relationships with the organization, you may consider providing more notice time; however, you are not required to do so.
2. Before giving verbal notice, prepare your resignation letter.
Communicate your reasons for leaving using the most positive, honest tone. Next, express your willingness to leave your projects in a solid place by offering to create a transition plan (see 3). Finally, when you’re ready to share your resignation, it’s best to do so via an open conversation with your direct supervisor. You can share the letter with them following that conversation.
3. Regardless of your reasons for leaving, you’ll want to leave them with a plan.
When you give notice, offer to help to develop a transition plan for your role. The organization may or may not use it, but at least you know that you have not shirked your responsibility.
4. Be prepared to receive a counteroffer or to be escorted out of the office.
If you are a valued employee, you may get a counteroffer to stay. Handle this option carefully. If you decide to continue with your resignation, thank them for the opportunity, keep relationships positive, and leave the door open for a future opportunity.
In some industries that deal with sensitive client information, you should be prepared for security to walk you out of the organization. Have your items in order so that you can quickly exit. Don’t take it personally; the organization usually tries to protect its client base in these cases.
5. Finally, exit with grace, show up, and complete your work until the last day.
Be sure to notify and thank close co-workers and mentors in the organization of your decision, and take time to say goodbye. Connect on LinkedIn with people you know in the organization to stay in touch.