How to Resign and not burn bridges

Before getting to how to resign, let’s cover off being sure you want to resign. As part of your career planning and development, I suggest being sure about what’s next.

Resign and take great references with you for life

How many times have you resigned during your career? Research published via the Australian Psychological Society (APS) by Klotz and Boleno in 2016 says that ‘employees view the act of resigning as a major event’. What was it like for you when you resigned? What emotions did you feel? Did you think what it would be like for your boss, and/or colleagues?

There are many ways of resigning. For those who are supremely aggrieved they go out in a blaze like Greg Smith did in 2012. He wrote an op-ed published in the New York times describing why he was leaving Goldman Sachs. It’s an interesting read. Some people abandon their employment, that is they just stop turning up and replying to phone calls. Both of these examples are at the extreme ends of the scale. Most people opt for more diplomatic ways of resigning.

The Klotz and Boleno research uncovered several ways of resigning and reasons for it. Often the person resigns because they are bored, don’t connect with their team members or boss, believe they are putting in more than they are getting out, feel they are being undercompensated or there is an unjustness at work. Whatever the reason, by the time you get to the point of resigning your reasons are strong. It’s not a surprise for you. In many ways, it’s like breaking up with a partner. If you are doing the breaking, its likely you have already begun disengaging and thinking about the break and how to go about it.

When you hand in your resignation, it’s one of the few times when you have the power. It’s your power to decide how you will resign, to lead the resignation process.

Different styles of resignation

There are different styles of resignation such as: 

  • The straight-forward approachI’m resigning because 


  • The grateful goodbye: I really appreciate you, this place, the team… 
  • In the loop: I’m thinking of resigning and am looking for something else. I’ll keep you in the loop… 
  • By the book: I’d like to speak with you in the office please. I’m resigning, here is my letter. 
  • Impulsive quitting: I’m out of here. I hate everything. Goodbye…  
  • Bridge-burning: I’m resigning, this place stinks. You stink… 
  • The avoidant: sending an email or placing the resignation letter on the boss’ desk after hours on a Friday. 

Have a plan

All styles are driven by the employee who is resigning. So, the power is with you!

Before getting to how to resign, let’s cover off being sure you want to resign. As part of your career planning and development, I suggest being sure about what’s next. Be sure to have a plan and be clear on your goals. To do this you can book in for some career coaching, which will help you put your plan in place. To be intentional with what comes next.

How to proceed

How do you hand in your resignation? When I have done it, I have made time to speak with the boss. Sometimes it coincided with our usual meeting. I’m the straightforward grateful type. The steps I follow are:

  • Let your manager know you’re resigning and why.

  • Thank them for whatever you are grateful for. This could be the experience, the personal relationships, the opportunity. Now is a time to reflect on the positive.

  • Mention other people and times that have stood out positively for you.

  • Write them a clear and concise letter/email and send it to them after your meeting.

  • Ask if there will be an exit interview.

  • Ask about the process from here and what to expect.

Giving Notice

One question that comes up is how much notice should I give when you resign? It depends on the role you perform, what is in your employment contract and how much you would like to offer. For instance, if your notice period is two-weeks, and you want to give them one month then offer it. It’s all a negotiation.

The Salary Coach is here to help you through the process – from the resignation, to getting great references and all the way into your dream role and beyond.

We've empowered our clients to earn over

$ 0

through our Coaching, Job Hunting, and Online Courses

We Can Help

We are passionate about helping people in their career to know their worth.

With 30+ years of experience in the fields of human resources, sales, business leadership, management and ownership, and change management. The Salary Coach is here to help you be your own champion.


Get your free negotiation planner now.

Simply enter your details and we will send you the negotiation planner, which will help you take your first steps towards getting the salary you know you’re worth.