How to Resign Professionally and Efficiently

Cover: How to Resign Professionally

When you’ve decided to leave your current job for another, two weeks is more than enough to to effectively transition your responsibilities and move on.

Many top performers have a certain amount of loyalty and obligation to their current employer—especially if they’ve had a long tenure. And they certainly want to leave on good terms, maintain a healthy relationship and leave behind a legacy that they’re proud of.

When they finally decide to depart for whatever reason, they want the transition to go as smoothly as possible to minimize stress on their coworkers and impact to that company.

If you like your current company and think it will be difficult to find a replacement, you might feel compelled to offer three weeks, a month or even more notice so you can help with transition, hiring, onboarding and more.

This sentiment is understandable and even admirable, but is ultimately unnecessary.

Rather than prolong your resignation and exit process, the best way to help your company and yourself is to depart in a normal timeframe so you can both move on.

Trust Your Current Employer

We all like to think, at least sometimes, that we’re the central cog in our organization’s machinations and that everything would fall about in our absence. In reality this is rarely true, even in very small companies where you are one of the primary drivers of success.

Employees come and go all the time, from retirements and resignations to growth-driven hires and corporate mergers. It’s standard business, and any decent management or HR team should be able to handle regular turnover efficiently.

No matter how reliant your company is on you, they will surely survive your absence. Even if it takes a few extra days or weeks to find a replacement or restructure around your vacant position, they’ll probably endure with minimal long-term disruption.

Ten business days should be plenty of time for any company to make necessary adjustments, spread your responsibilities around and be well into the hiring process. You’re probably not giving your employer enough credit if you think that this timeline is too short.

The Two-Week Breakdown

As you can imagine, we see our share of new jobs and resignations as marketing recruiters. Most 10-day workplace departure schedules go something like this:

  • Days 1-2: You turn in your notice to your managers. They assure you you’ll be missed and thank you for your work at the company. Your coworkers are notified of your departure. They all wish you the best and ask where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.
  • Days 3-8: You work on transitioning your most essential duties to others until a replacement can be found or a plan to distribute your responsibilities is established. You coordinate with your team to pass along the core knowledge and methodologies you were employing on your day-to-day work. As your end date draws closer, your company has already begun to phase you out of many of your duties.
  • Days 9-10: You probably could have left after Day 8 but someone already scheduled a farewell party on your final day, so you might as well stick around for some cake. By this point you’ve already passed on as much transition knowledge as you can, so you share your last bits of workplace wisdom with a favored few: where the office manager hides the good pens, the kind of candy you should bribe Accounting with to get them off your back, how to get a prime parking spot. At the party everyone insists that things won’t be the same without you. But you all know everything will return to business as usual in due time.

Don’t be a Disruptor

The last few days of employment at an established company can be, well, awkward; both for you and for those you interact with. Even on the seemingly short two-week cycle, you’ll often find the last couple of days to be unproductive for you and distracting for your coworkers.

By this point you’re likely to find yourself with little to do as your responsibilities and knowledge are documented and distributed to others. They’ll be making plans, having meetings and working on projects you’ll have no part of. Your mind will be occupied by thoughts of your next job. This is bearable for a few days, but it gets progressively more uncomfortable over time. Imagine enduring it for that third week!

As much as you like your coworkers and they return the sentiment, you’re doing them no favors by lingering. The best thing you can do is work hard to pass over the reins and then get out of their way.

It’s better for you, your future employer, your colleagues and current company to not drag out your transition from your current role. When the time has come to move on, don’t do it halfheartedly. If you want to be as proud of your last days at this company as you were at the first, commit to a well-established and respected standard two weeks and stick to it.

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