When you voluntarily leave a job, you have your reasons and may be heading to a more positive experience.  But whether you leave your current position for more pay, relocation, or to get away from unbearable bosses or co-workers, resigning can be an exasperating quest.  Here’s how I survived my last two weeks after submitting my resignation.

1.  Follow the steps outlined in your employee handbook.  Open up that old file on the computer or dust off the paper manual and read your company’s policy on voluntary resignation.  It should explain if you need to first inform your immediate supervisor or submit a letter to human resources.  It will also tell you how much notice the agency requires before your last day of employment. When you follow the company’s policy, the higher-ups hopefully won’t get immaturely upset and support you during your last few days.  Plus, during your voluntary termination, you should consider if you need a recommendation from your current employer. 

2.  Give the proper notice (to the best of your abilities).  You may also need to consult your employment contract in addition to the handbook for this one.  If your agency requires two weeks notice before your leave, then give it.  As a counselor, my company preferred one month notice, yet required only two weeks.  I wanted to give a month, but my new employer asked for an earlier start date.  I explained this to human resources and my previous boss, who accepted this (at least to my face).  Yet, things happen.  If you feel unsafe at work, have been wronged, or have an emergency, explain these in your resignation and do what you need to do.

3.  Write a precise resignation letter.  Keep your resignation letter to the point.  State the purpose of the letter is to inform of your leave, state your last date, and thank the company for their time.  You can save your reasons for leaving for the exit interview.  I posted mine on the agency’s letterhead to help it look professional.  Unless you have been with the current company for years, there is no need to get sentimental in your letter. 

4.  Cooperate with you co-workers and supervisor.  Clients or cases will need to get transferred to other employees.  Your responsibilities will need to be delegated to others (at least temporarily).  Help with this process.  Make recommendations as to what colleague can best do your tasks.  Meet with these colleagues and brief them on your current duties and progress. 

5.  Complete all paperwork.  Hardly anyone likes this part of the job.  Yet it is part of many job descriptions and necessary for some of us to get paid (counselors, therapists, doctors, etc).  If all paperwork is done, you will feel more satisfied about your accomplishments at your company.  Plus, some employers may hold your last paycheck if it is not all complete. 

6.  Do not develop an “I’m outta here” attitude.  Even if you loathe your workplace, do not stop loving your career.  Continue with the dedication to your clients, colleagues, and customers as if you will return to work next week.  People will remember you favorably for this.  Don’t get too high and mighty with your co-workers or supervisors.  Remember, you may encounter these people further in your career. 

7.  Focus and remain calm.  I am very excited to begin a new job that won’t wreck my car, bank account, and sanity.  Therefore, it was hard for me to focus on my last day and difficult to contain my happiness.  Yet a few instances of closing my eyes and breathing deeply helped.  Keeping a to-do list and sticking with it helped me stay on track with my last day duties.  Also, I didn’t drink any coffee.    

8.  Speak with professionalism in your exit interview.  You should be sincere in your exit interview and explain why you are leaving the company.  Yet be professional about it, even if you’re angry or hurt.  I presented an issue that occurred the day before my leave, in which my supervisor completely twisted a colleague’s words and seemed to lie to the director.  I printed the email, my colleague’s response to the email, and sent my own.  I presented the print outs during my exit interview, and professionally explained how it affected me.  I used words such as “communication barriers,”  “upsetting” and “unacceptable” as a supervisor’s behavior….instead of saying “this really pissed me off.”

9.  Leave a clean work space.  When cleaning out your desk, take what is yours, leave what belongs to the company.  If you have resources that will be useful to colleagues, give them up if you will not need them in the future (such as blank company forms).  Shred documents that you need too.  Recycle old forms the company no longer uses.  And don’t forget anyof your belongings. 

Even if you are leaving the company for a better place, resigning can be harder work than your normal day.  It will also have mixed feelings, as some colleagues will be sad to see you go.  Yet keeping your head on straight and cooperating will make the resignation go much smoother, especially for you.

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