Open Colleges

How to Resign From Your Job the Right Way

by Marianne Stenger
Posted: March 14, 2016

  Return to blog home


Whether you’re moving on to pursue a new challenge or just don’t enjoy your job or work environment anymore, it’s never easy to tell your boss, coworkers and possibly clients that you intend to resign. 

Of course, if Hollywood is to be believed, quitting an unpleasant job is as simple as yelling “I quit” and storming out of the building as coworkers cheer and clap. In the real world, however, there are some hoops you’ll need to jump through if you want to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes and secure a good recommendation from your employer. 

Here are some pointers on how to resign from your job the right way. 

1. Be certain

How to resign from your job the right way

Make sure you’re certain of your decision to resign before you say anything to your employer. Even if you’re frustrated with your current situation, take the time to consider all your options before you throw in the towel. 

If you need a more flexible work schedule, you could discuss work from home options with your boss, or if you’re not getting along with a coworker, you might be able to smooth things over with some help from HR, or even ask to be transferred to a different department. 

2. Give sufficient notice

Hourglass - time

Once you’re sure you want to resign from your job, your next step will be to check your contract and find out how much notice you’re expected to give.

Two weeks is the norm, but some employers may ask for four to six weeks notice, depending on your position within the company and the projects you’re working on. 

3. Prepare your story 

Preparing a story

It can be difficult to know how to resign if you don’t have a quick explanation for your impending departure.

Of course, you’re under no obligation to tell your employer or anyone else why you’re leaving, but it helps to have a brief response prepared, as your boss and coworkers will undoubtedly be curious. 

4. Tell the right people

Telling colleagues

Always tell your manager or employer about your intention to resign in person, and make sure he or she is the first person to hear about it.

If you tell your coworkers first, there’s a chance that your boss will hear about it from someone other than you, which could make for an awkward situation. 

5. Prepare your resignation letter

resignation letter

Once you’ve made your intention to resign known, you may be expected to submit a formal letter of resignation for HR to keep on file. The letter should be straightforward and state the position you’re resigning from and the date you’re leaving, without going into details about why. 

Of course, it’s always nice to include a brief “thank you” paragraph where you describe a few of the things you learned and enjoyed during your time there and express your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve had. You could also mention your willingness to help train your replacement and wrap up any important projects before you leave. 

6. Stay professional during your exit interview

professional exit interview

Your company may set up an exit interview to get your feedback on areas they could improve in, and while you might be tempted to air your grievances, it’s best to stay professional or you risk damaging your reputation.

If you have any criticism, try to share it constructively, and never single out specific individuals as you never know when you might need to work with someone again in the future. 

Resigning from your job with the intent to switch careers? Explore the best career change advice from industry experts here


Marianne Stenger

Marianne is a London-based freelance Writer and Journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central.

Interested in online study?

See what it’s like with our 7 day free course trial.

Find out first-hand what it’s like to study with Open Colleges. Experience our world-class learning platform for yourself and discover how online learning can work for you. There are no obligations and no payment details required.

Start Today

Course areas