Research Driven Recruitment

How to Resign: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So, you’ve just received the offer of your dreams in every way possible and can’t wait to join the company. However, you current employer has no idea you have been passively looking for new opportunities let alone that you are leaving! You’ve known your boss since joining following your graduation, your colleagues are like family and as you come to the realisation of what you now need to do, leaving the company slowly loses its perks. This last minute feeling of panic has led many to take counters from their current employer; including the promise of higher salaries, more responsibility, increased seniority and more. However, studies have shown that over 8/10 of promises laid out in counters never materialise, which is probably the main contributing factor to over 95% of counter-takers being back on the market; whether actively or passively, within 3 months after a counter has been accepted. We all know how hard resigning is in any situation so here’s a step by step break down of how to approach resigning so that you don’t throw away your dream job for dreams!

Keep it to yourself
Once you’ve made the decision to resign, don’t go blabbing it all over company as word will get to boss through the grape vine which is probably the worst way that a boss can ever be informed of such. Give your boss time to absorb and process the information first, before his employees are made aware of the situation. Furthermore, for the benefit of the company, it’s best not to notify your coworkers before you notify your boss. Emotions are at a high and productivity at a low when your coworkers know that you are leaving before your boss does.

So, tell the boss first
Ask your boss for an appointment to discuss an important matter. Poking your head in and asking for a moment of his or her time will do – just be respectful of the fact that your supervisor has a job to do, and may not be able to drop everything at the precise moment you are prepared to spring this news on him or her.

Be prepared, direct, and polite
Rehearsing privately will help you be ready when your supervisor has you in to talk. Most managers are extremely busy and they will appreciate your direct approach, forgoing the temptation to “cushion the blow,” “find the right way to say this,” or otherwise beat around the bush. You might say something like:

“I thought it only respectful to let you know as soon as possible that I have been offered a new position at another company. I have really enjoyed working here, but I need to give you my two weeks’ notice as of today. Does it work for you if my last day is [whatever two weeks from then is]?”. This leads us on to the next point which is:

Always plan to give notice
If you want to leave under the best possible terms, don’t leave your employer high and dry, scrambling to cover your position. Always give the minimum notice specified in your employment contract so that your boss can prepare to have others cover for you, or have time to find a replacement.

Stand strong
Be prepared to discuss. Chances are you’ve been working with this boss for some time, and whatever your reasons are for leaving, he or she may have some questions. Your boss may value you much more than you realized, and make a counteroffer. This is why you need to be sure before resigning that you are prepared to decline all other offers as counter offers that are accepted are known to be full of empty promises.

However, if you are given a counteroffer which you cannot resist, be sure to request for any counteroffer to be put in writing and signed. Those signatures would preferably be your boss, supervisor, and Human resources. Do remember though, that the dynamics of your working environment may be damaged by your attempt to resign; losing the trust and respect of your current employer and co-workers; which is a contributing factor to the extremely high level of unhappy counteroffer accepters.

Put your resignation in writing
Have a copy of your letter of resignation in hand. Make your letter brief, non-confrontational and professional. When it is in writing both your employer and yourself take you resignation seriously and it is easier for your employer to talk you out of a resignation if you haven’t done so. Therefore, your resignation could be seen as more of a threat than a serious act which won’t benefit either part involved.

Be amicable
Shake hands, smile, and thank your boss for the opportunity they have given you. Whether your departure is to relocate, to take a better job, or just to get away from this guy, show some class when you’re walking out the door.

Resist the urge to do the happy dance!
Go to your work station and stay there for at least 10 minutes. Now you can go blab it to everybody, but don’t rub it in your boss’s nose – be classy and simply confirm that you will be leaving.


If you follow this step by step guide your resignation will be as smooth as a resignation can be! Obviously not every resignation is as easy as this but as long as you stick to your guns whilst also taking into consideration the feelings of your employer and colleagues, you will conduct this act in a way that keeps everyone feeling informed and (which will come in handy if you ever need a referral  ).

Good luck!

Oxford Knight is a technical recruitment agency. None of our consultants have written a line of code... yet. We apologise if this article doesn’t keep some purist happy, but we’re trying to build a new generation of technical recruitment agencies…. We listen, participate, and deliver.