Call it quits in style

While submitting your resignation, try to be as diplomatic as possible with your superiors. And smile, always.
Jimmy J        Print Edition: Feb 16, 2014
Call it quits in style

You just bagged a new job, and today's when you get to accost your soon-to-be-former boss with your resignation letter and a whole bunch of scathing one-liners. So you walk into his office, papers in hand, and eloquently recite them until you have succeeded in scraping the very last bit of that smug smile from his face. Showed him, didn't you? The rest of your working day is spent on boasting about your next job to your colleagues, and that evening, you pack your odds-and-ends and head out. But, wait! Exciting as the road ahead may appear, aren't you closing the door a little too tightly behind you? Sure, quitting a job for better pay or perks is only natural, but be careful about exiting the right way if you want to stay ahead in the game. Some tips on how to resign with grace.

Put as much thought into your resignation as a job interview. The language in your letter of farewell should be framed as delicately as possible, and - even if you feel the need to elaborate on your reasons for doing so - ensure that you do not create any negative feelings in the process. A good attitude is important. Try to be as diplomatic as possible with your superiors when you call it quits; it's a small world, and you never know where you will bump into them next. "Also, as there is the possibility of going back to work with the same employer, one must part ways in a friendly manner. Even if someone has resigned due to professional reasons, the person can always find an attractive position in the previous firm a few years down the line," says Shainu Varghese, an HR manager with the Chennai wing of an IT multinational.

Don't go around boasting about your new job to your co-workers before you have actually submitted the resignation letter. Chances are, the issue may reach your boss's ears before you get a chance to meet him, and this wouldn't bode well for your relationship with him. Also, make sure that you present him with a printed copy of your resignation letter before sending the email along. Resigning solely by email is woefully disrespectful, and while there are some bosses who may not mind you taking this impersonal route out of an uncomfortable situation, there are many others who may do so.

While your resignation letter may be greeted with a variety of emotions, there is a good chance that it may come as a complete shock to your superiors. But whatever their reaction may be, respond in a calm, collected manner that reflects your understanding of the situation and demonstrates that you are taking the step after a lot of thought. Even if your boss turns confrontational and resorts to blackmail, emotional or otherwise, do not get drawn into a meaningless argument. You have decided to leave your job; it's not a crime, and there's no reason to get defensive about it. Be polite, but remain firm.

Be sure to tie up every loose end before your last day at work - there are few things that irk an employer more than a person who abandons his post without finishing all the tasks assigned to him. The people taking over from you will not appreciate being left holding the baby, and if the news gets through, even your new employers may shake their heads at the way you handle responsibility. "In your last days, every effort should be taken to ensure that your former employers don't feel resentful towards you," says Varghese, "These days, background checks are done in most industries, and they invariably involve contacting the candidate's previous employer. In case the ex-employee has left without completing formalities, or without finishing the tasks assigned to him, this could find mention in the report."

Ideally, a person should give his former employers enough time to find an apt replacement before he walks out of the door. The length of the notice period may vary from one establishment to the other, some extending to as many as three months. But if your new employers aren't willing to wait that long, you may have to start negotiating an early exit date - without stepping on any toes, of course. Start by talking to people at both ends. If your new employers want you to join within a month, check if they can settle on 45 days. The HR personnel and bosses at your current establishment should not have a problem with that, provided you asked them politely. 


It is not advisable to say anything negative to your superiors during your exit process, but if you absolutely insist on doing so, don't type it off in a mail. A face-to-face interaction with the person concerned could work just as well, without making the matter "official" by putting it in writing. You can always express your grouses in the exit interview as long as it's done in a civil manner. Varghese says, "Exit interviews help employers understand why someone's leaving the job. While it may not be possible to take up each and every comment made by an exiting employee, they can definitely use it to identify trends and take action over a period of time."

Be open to counter-offers that your company may come up with. If your present organisation decides to match your salary and position with what's being offered by the new firm, it only goes to show that they value your work and contribution very highly. Weigh both the offers and decide on the one that suits you better, making every effort to prevent antagonizing either side. Varghese, in fact, insists on a conversation about the resignation with the boss or HR personnel concerned before making it official. "Such a step would help clear misunderstandings, set expectations for your notice period, and - at times - even change your mind about having to resign," he says. However, if you have made up your mind about leaving the job, ensure that you confirm your exit plans and last working day a second time - through email.

Leaving your job doesn't necessarily have to mean cutting all communication with your former employers. Keep in touch with your superiors and colleagues in the old job, and if you are up to it, make it a point to meet them informally from time to time. Such a move would ensure that your name pops into their mind every time somebody asks them to make a job recommendation. Quitting your job gracefully is no easy task, and there's every chance that you may step on a toe or two. But if you stick to these eight commandments, in addition to a steadfast smile on your face, the door just may not bang shut behind you.

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