Resignation Advice

Two Biggest Mistakes

The two biggest and easiest mistakes to make verbally or in writing are saying “I’m sorry for leaving” or “Thank you for the opportunity to work here.”  You do not need to say you’re sorry for leaving when your current employer couldn’t do what was necessary to keep you in their employ.  They, in fact, should be saying that they are sorry to you for not doing what may have been necessary to key you as a key employee.   Likewise, they should be thanking you for your good work and contributions.

Face-to-face Meeting

With few exceptions, a resignation should be done face-to-face.  It is your responsibility to request a meeting and to set the agenda.  If the employer asks for a reason for the meeting, your response will simply be, “It is a matter of personal concern that needs to addressed confidentially.”  Start the meeting by handing the prepared resignation letter to the employer, followed by this verbiage:  “I have made a commitment to join another organization and will begin working with them in two weeks.  Please accept this letter of resignation.  Please take a minute to read my letter before we discuss how we can make this a smooth transition.”

If the employer attempts to dodge this request or begins asking questions about your leaving, it is because they are going through some predicable phases of denial and taking the initial steps to establish a power play.  They already know what the letter says and if they are attempting this ploy, it should confirm that your resigning is the right decision.

Resignation Letter

Dear (Boss),

Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation.  I appreciate the work we have been able to accomplish together at (Company), but I have now made a commitment to another organization and will begin working with them in two weeks.

Know that it is my intention to work diligently with you to wrap up as much as possible in the remaining time that I am here to make my resignation as smooth as possible.  If you have any suggestions on how we can best accomplish that goal, I hope that you will share them with me.  I am eager to leave on the most positive note possible.



The “who…what…why” Questions

Stick to your agenda and fend off such questions with, “I know you may be curious about where I am going and why, but it is not my intention to discuss that with you today.  My decision has been made.  If it is truly important for you to know where I am going and why, let’s talk about it when it is not an emotional issue for either of us a month from now.  Today, my goal remains to discuss how to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

This is not some sudden interest in advancing your career as they will often have it appear.  It is a common stalling tactic for them to figure out how to cover their backside with this new problem that has just landed on their desk.  At the conclusion of this meeting make certain that copies of resignation letter have distributed to those in the company’s hierarchy and HR.


There are volumes of data and research on the pitfalls of accepting a counteroffer.  For the purposes of this resignation exercise, if the desire is to evade a counteroffer, take the preventive measures in advance of telling at least two fellow employees that you are resigning.  If there is the slightest chance that your employer will make a counteroffer, you will hear the words, “Have you told anyone else that you’re leaving?”  If you were to answer no, your employer’s response will be to request a few days for management deal with the issue of your leaving before you make it public.  If you indicate that you have informed others, you will remove any negotiating leverage that your employer may have been grasping for.  If they present you with a counteroffer, they know there will be a line of resignations at their office door the next day, all seeking counteroffers.