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Resignation Do's and Don'ts
How (and How Not) to Resign From a Job


By Alison Doyle, Job Searching Expert

How should you resign from your job? How about what you shouldn't do when turning in your resignation? I've seen resignations handled both ways.

One employee left a note on her manager's desk saying she quit and wouldn't be back. Another employee got mad, yelled at the boss, and walked out the door. Neither option, of course, is the best way to resign if you can help it.

The employee who resigns gracefully, gives two weeks notice, writes a polite resignation letter, and thanks the employer for the opportunities they had during their tenure at the company will leave on a positive, rather than a negative, note - and will have a better chance of getting a good reference. 

Here's what you should (and what you shouldn't) do when resigning from your job.

How (and How Not) to Resign From Your Job

Do Clean Up Your Computer. Even if you give notice, your employer may decide that you should be done right now and they may show you out the door. Before you turn in your resignation, clean up your computer. Delete personal files and email messages. Make sure you have the contact information for everyone you need to keep in touch with after you're gone.

Don't Put it in Writing. Regardless of how much you hate your job, hate your boss, or hate the company, don't say it. Even if quitting is the best career move you've made, to date, keep it to yourself. Here's what to say when you quit your job. Also review what not to say when you're resigning. Your resignation letter will be placed in your employment file and it can come back to haunt you - even years after you have resigned. It honestly isn't worth venting.

Do Give Notice When Possible. Unless the situation is untenable, giving two weeks notice is standard practice when resigning.

Here are some of the reasons when you could quit without notice. If you want to leave sooner, it's appropriate to ask if you can leave sooner.

Do Write a Resignation Letter. It's a good idea to write a formal resignation letter for your employment file even if you resign via email or on the phone. You don't need to say much more than you're leaving and when your last day of work will be. If you're not sure what to say, review these resignation letter samples for just about every resignation scenario you can think of - from formal, to heartfelt, to relocation, returning back to school, and other personal resignation situations.

Get the Details. When you tell your boss or Human Resources Department that you're leaving be sure to get the details on the employee benefits and salary you are entitled to when you leave.

Don't Be Negative. When you're talking about your resignation with co-workers, try to emphasize the positive and talk about how the company has benefited you, even though it's time to move on. There's no point in being negative - you're leaving and you want to leave on good terms.

Don't Brag About Your New Job. Even if you just got the best job in the world, don't brag about it. Is there really any point in making your soon to be ex-colleagues feel badly that you're leaving - both because they'll miss you and because you've got a great job to go to?

Do Offer to Help. If it's feasible, offer to help during the transition and afterwards. The offer may not be accepted, but it will be appreciated.

Do Ask for a Reference. Ask your boss and colleagues if they would be willing to give you a reference. If they agree, ask them to write you a LinkedIn recommendation as well as being available via email or phone. You'll have the reference as part of your LinkedIn profile, which is great for your future job search endeavors.

Don't Forget to Say Goodbye. Before you leave, take the time to send a farewell message to co-workers and to let them know that you are moving on to a new position, starting a job search, retiring or doing something else with your life. It's appropriate to send an email farewell message. You can include contact information so you can stay in touch. Here's more on how to say farewell to colleagues.