15 Rules of Resignation

The 15 Rules of Resignation

You have got a new job! Well done. Now, don’t spoil it all by making a hash of your exit from where you are now. I know, you are excited. It’s hard to stay focused on the old gig, when everything is “oh so cool” about the new one.

But remember, the “old gig” was the “new gig” not so long ago, and how you behave on your way out will affect your brand, your references and your future employability. Trust me on that.

It’s true that often you get shown the door as soon as you resign. Also true, some employers behave appallingly to exiting staff. But no matter. You be the better person, leaving with every loose end tied up and your head held high.

These 15 rules of resignation will give you the road map to do just that:

  1. Give fair notice. Sure, your offer letter of 5 years ago says you need only give 2 weeks notice. But you were a trainee then and now a team leader. You know you will cause your employer huge issues if you leave at such short notice. Don’t do it. Provide enough time for them to get their business covered. It’s the professional thing to do.
  2. Do the deed gracefully. The actual resignation, I mean. Plan how you will do it. Set a formal meeting. Be polite. Accentuate the positives. Be firm, but humble. Show appreciation. Thank your boss.
  3. Don’t blab. To everyone else, I mean. Either before you resign or after. Until your boss agrees a communication plan. In my experience, 90% of “resignees” fail right here. Just have to tell everyone about “my great new job.” It’s selfish. Destructive. You need to be collaborative in helping convey the message at the right time, in the right way, to the right people.
  4. Offer to train a replacement. And mean it. And do it. Well.
  5. Smooth handover of clients and candidates. Cooperate in a handover of your current orders, your clients and your hot talent. If you are leaving those clients for good, it’s the right thing to do by them, as well as by your employer who gave you the chance to build those relationships in the first place. But even if you plan to work with those clients somewhere else, they don’t belong to you, so do the ethical thing and brief a successor. Then, when the time is right, restraints honoured, compete like hell!
  6. Share the inside stuff. You know what I mean. The little nuggets. Like your computer password. Or which contact within a client really makes the decisions. Or special fee arrangements you have in place.
  7. Don’t destabilise. Resist the temptation to vent, to criticise, to undermine and to pour negativity like a trail of dog-poo around the office, “because you know better and you are leaving.” It’s not a good look, and it makes you seem ridiculous. Really.
  8. Don’t slack off. This is critical. If you “go walkabout,” start being lazy, come in late, avoid your admin and generally make it clear you have “checked out,” everyone will see that and everyone who counts will remember it. Forever. And that is going to hurt you one day. Count on it.
  9. Take no cheap shots. At your boss. Your colleagues. The business. Anything. It’s weak. And petty. And very
  10. The exit interview. Cooperate. Don’t be a wiseacre by refusing to participate. Be thoughtful and constructive. Resist the temptation to preach or criticise.
  11. Don’t flirt with counter-offer discussions if you have no intentions of staying. Pursuing that conversation just so you can enjoy having your ego stroked is just not nice.
  12. Wrap it up. Close as many of your working orders and other projects as you can. I had a woman once who left the business with her record-ever quarter. She left with her head held high, and we paid her bonus gladly. 12 months later when her new job turned out to be a dud, we hired her back.
  13. When you are on your way out, thank everyone who helped you on your way up. It will mean a lot to them if you do, and they will remember it if you don’t. And not in a good way.
  14. Say goodbye properly to everybody. Personally, not by email from your phone when you are out the door. Shake hands. Offer kisses. Swap contact details. Keep doors open.
  15. Stay an ambassador after you have gone. Don’t deride your former company or colleagues. Amazing how many people do that. It’s such an unpleasant trait. Never reflects well on you. Never. Ever. So why do it?

Having run and owned businesses for 25 years, I guess I have been on the receiving end of a huge number of resignations. And it stuns me how destructive to themselves some people can be. Petty and vindictive. Or just lazy and sloppy. And yet, so many times, six months later, when their dream job did not turn out so well, they want to come back. Or they need a reference. Hmmm…

I have hired back literally dozens of ex-employees who behaved impeccably on the way out. In those cases the door is always open. But many more have sullied their exit, behaving appallingly and burning customers and colleagues along the way.

And to them, the door is closed, forever.

Don’t be a jerk. Resign with grace.

This post originally appeared on The Savage Truth.

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Greg Savage
Greg is the founder of leading recruitment companies people2people, Firebrand Talent Search, and Recruitment Solutions. He is an established global leader of the recruitment industry and a regular keynote speaker worldwide. Greg provides specialised advice for Recruitment, Professional Services & Social Media companies.


  1. Interesting Read. These points are bang on. But with Indian Context, the issue arises with Notice Period Part. Most of the companies in India have 60-90days Notice Period. Hence it’s a challenge for both employee and employer. Employees get disengaged the moment they resign, but as you rightly said, they need to be in the game and leave on a high. Also it’s a challenging job for the HR to keep the employee motivated. Most of the companies fail in providing smooth exit, as employees always feel companies could have done it more professionally and in a systematic manner.

  2. […] before.  And when it is time to move on, there are some definite rules to follow.  Over at the People2People blog (an awesome Australian site that a friend of mine happens to work for) wrote about the 15 rules to […]

  3. […] Our 15 Rules of Resignation may also come in handy. […]

  4. Jason Gomez says:

    I followed the 15 step rule and more. I met and gave my plant manager 6 to 7 months notice of my resignation and came to work everyday still working my hardest like if it was my first day and getting the job done. I had been with the company going on 5yrs and right before Christmas and Thanksgiving , called me in the office and told me they accept my resignation as of today. I had mention I might be leaving in February or March in September of this year and they told me to resign today on 11-18-2015. Please if you can , email me if anybody thinks I can fight it with the union because I feel like the company did me wrong. Thank you

  5. Hari Krishna says:

    I am in the process of separating my long standing association (7 years) with my current organisation. I am more than pleased to come across this article. It’s a good read.

    Although i am following most of these already, Some points seem little too hard to follow.

    Say for Don’t blab. If self initiated yes it’s a no, but what if asked where you are heading to. I find it more appropriate to answer truthfully here.

  6. Bill says:

    I would like to ask a question with regard to choosing end date for resignation. Base on my observation, people at my workplace often choose their end date on a Friday. I am just wondering if choosing Wednesday for my last day will be considered weird and people would think I am greedy, in fact I am, choosing Wednesday with the purpose of earning extra pay for three days before moving interstate. Thank you.

    • Manda Milling Manda Milling says:

      Dear Bill

      As long as you meet the required notice period as stipulated in your contract of employment (usually 2 – 4 weeks in Australia and based on your employer’s pay cycle), then the day of the week on which you actually leave is up to you. So if you need to leave on a Wednesday, ensure you resign two to four weeks (or the required amount of time) beforehand.

      If you do not give the required amount of notice, then your employer is only required to pay your accumulated annual leave entitlements, not the un worked portion of your required notice period. It also is very unprofessional….people have long memories regarding this type of behaviour, that’s why it’s the first point in the blog. It may also affect a future reference from the employer.

      Good luck!

  7. Ravi says:

    I have got new job in Australia and they are asking to join them in 4 weeks. So far i am working for Indian based company and since 2.5 yrs i am staying in Australia. Now that i am permanent resident of Australia.
    I wish to resign my existing company but as per my joining date the notice period is 2 months.
    I am now confused as my new employer says to join in weeks and now i am not how would i get release in 4 weeks of time.
    Is there any law for permanent residents which talks about notice period ? How can i avoid 2 months of notice ?

  8. Dilshad says:

    I m also emplyer of a private school. i was not agree on the pckge. so i resighned on 4feb. but school’s leader didnt accept my resign. He requested me to rejoinning on 10 feb. i have rejoined but he is not give me salary of 4 to 10 dates. he said that we cant give u salary of these days because u didnt work on these days. any rule of this case

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