At the age of 22, it’s not really a big surprise that I’ve got little experience in the area of resigning from a job. Prior to my first full-time employment, each job I had was relatively fixed-term, or at least I had made it very clear that I would only be in the job for a certain amount of time (i.e. university jobs that would end when I graduated, or a summer job that, of course, would only last the summer).
So when it came to handing in my resignation in December last year, I was totally stumped. I kept trying to think about how I could word something like that, without sounding bitter or hateful. I wasn’t happy there, but I didn’t want to burn bridges either.
And when it came to the day of, I felt sick with nerves. Clearly I had gone through the long process of interviewing, finding the right new role for me and accepting an offer that had me feeling incredibly excited, but I guess I was afraid that once the words had left my mouth, I’d regret them.
(Spoiler alert: I’ve not regretted them for a second).
So as the first instalment of what I hope will be an informative (and entertaining) ‘things nobody told me about…’ series, I’m going to share some of the things I learned along the way.
You can’t just hand your resignation letter over and walk away
I knew that a resignation letter is one of those formal requirements, so I painstakingly wrote one to my manager. But I hadn’t spent any time considering how I would actually approach and deliver the letter. What could I possibly say?
It’s difficult because there isn’t really a script for this kind of thing. My best advice would be to be yourself, talk to them like you normally would and be appreciative of everything that has been done for you in your time there. Remember that at the end of the day, the person you’re talking to is also a human being who will go home and be themselves, not your boss.
Be honest, but not hurtful
I could have jumped up and down yelling how excited I was to be going to my new role, but I realised that this wasn’t a totally appropriate way to behave. I was honest and when people asked me what I’d be going on to do, I’m sure they could sense how much I was looking forward to it, but I avoided making a big deal out of it. At the end of the day, everyone else was staying there. It would have been so unfair to make them feel bad about the company by being negative.
Prepare to answer questions
I was totally unprepared for this. I had naively assumed that once I’d said it and handed over my letter, that would be the end of it. What actually happened was that I was asked a load of questions and I was thrown totally off guard and didn’t really respond to them eloquently or informatively. At the end of the day, giving the company your opinions will help them to improve for future employees.
Don’t burn bridges
There are a thousand reasons as to why you shouldn’t burn bridges in situations like this. I’ll give you a couple of important ones. Firstly, you’ve got to work your notice period, so try and make that bearable for everyone involved! Secondly, it really helps to have contacts, you never know how or when it would come in handy. Also – you might want to stay in touch as friends after you leave.
They might counter-offer
Another thing I hadn’t really considered is that someone might want you to stay enough to offer you whatever you think you’d need to stay, whether that’s more money or a change in the way things are done. It had very briefly crossed my mind and I had just as quickly brushed it away. As a result, I wasn’t prepared and didn’t deal with those questions very well.
Don’t stop working
It’s so tempting to stop putting in the effort and leave your colleagues to suffer with your half-hearted attempts at everything. I really cared about the department I was working in and didn’t want to make more work for them. I was also really glad I decided to continue putting in the effort, because by the final week of my notice I had barely anything to do. I can’t imagine having lasted much longer than that twiddling my thumbs!
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are the biggest points of learning that I had during my first experience of resigning. I hope it’s somewhat useful for you guys – would love to know what you all think!