Resigning gracefully requires more than submitting a resignation letter
While most people take a lot of time to learn about how to stand out to potential employers and get the job, very few put the same effort into understanding the best way to leave a job. It’s not uncommon for people to simply hand in their month or two-week notice without any clear explanation to their employers, and what’s worse is that sometimes they do this in the middle of a big project that they are needed for or don’t even wait out their notice time but instead leave abruptly.
But here’s the thing, no matter how awful your employer was or if you got the opportunity of your life in another company, always make sure that you leave a company gracefully. Because frankly, most industries in Tanzania are small and close-knit, so you never know who you will work with or need help from in the future. If you leave a bad impression when you resign, it may come back to haunt you at some point.
So how exactly do you leave a job without burning bridges and ruining connections?
Are you quitting for the right reasons?
Before you start working on your resignation letter, you need to carefully assess your reasons for quitting. You don’t want to terminate your employment because you had a bad week and your supervisor yelled at you. Incidents like that tend to overweigh all the good things about your job. So you should first think long and hard about why you are quitting. Do you have to quit right now? Do you have a plan of what you’ll do after you quit? Are there any reasons to stay? Will quitting help your career?
Answering all these questions will give you some clarity. However, make sure that you don’t decide to stay at your job because of fear. If you realise that you need to quit but don’t have another job lined up or savings. Then maybe you should give yourself a 6-month timeframe for you to actively look for jobs and save some money so that you can quit then. You should never stay at a job that makes you miserable because of fear, there’s always something you can do about it – but it may not be immediate.
Is the new job actually better?
Ever heard the term, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side?” Basically, if you want to leave your job and have found a new job, you may be viewing the new position from ‘rose-coloured’ glasses. Simply put, it may seem better than it actually is because you want to leave your current job so badly. So don’t accept a new job position simply because you need a job or you hate your current one. Always assess if it’s the right job for you.
The best way to do this is to first write down all the things that you hate about your current job and look over the job description of the new job and see if there are any similarities or differences. For instance, if you hate that you don’t control the budget for your department, then you should be weary of future jobs that still don’t give you control.
After you’ve passed the job description of a potential position, make sure you negotiate to see if you can get the changes you want made to improve your work experiences. All in all, don’t accept a job offer because you hate your current job, as you may find yourself in a similar situation to the one that you are currently in.
Review your contract
You need to review your contract to see how much notice time you are obliged to give. It may be two weeks, one month, and for some positions 2 months. You have no obligation to stay past your required notice, even if the employer asks you. However, if you feel like helping them then you can do so part-time/through a consultancy etc. While it’s important to always give notice, there are some special circumstances that may lead you to quit without notice. These include:
- You have been illegally denied your salary or other benefits
- You are going through a personal crisis/family matter that prevents you from working
- An employee or supervisor has been physically or sexually abusive
- Your mental health is endangered by the job
Write your resignation letter
The resignation letter is what most people think about when they want to quit. However, you should only write one once you are absolutely sure about your decision to resign. Focus on the positives of your job, and thank your employer for what you’ve learned through the position. Do not dwell on the negative, you are quitting, so there’s no point. You could talk about the negatives if your boss asks you directly or during the exit interview, but essentially, stick to the positives and the growth you’ve experienced in the company.
Below is a sample resignation letter:
Address: You should always begin with you and your manager’s contact information
Dear Mr/Ms/Mrs ( your manager’s name),
Paragraph one: Get to the point, state that you are resigning and the date in which your resignation will be effective
Paragraph two: You can choose to talk about the reason you are leaving the job. Remember, don’t focus on the negatives of the job, instead, focus on the positive things like you are going back to school, getting married, starting your own business, a new job. And mention how your current job has helped you get there.
Paragraph three: If you will have some time, offer to help with the transition your leaving will cause by training new employee etc
Paragraph four: Thank your manager for giving you the opportunity and mention the benefits of the job.
Sincerely ( your name)
Resign in person (if possible)
Before you submit the letter, make sure you resign in person. If your boss is not physically available, make sure you find the time to talk over the phone. Skype, WhatsApp, etc and then submit your formal resignation letter.
Be prepared to answer ‘why are you quitting’
While you may feel compelled, to be honest with your boss about your reasons for leaving, if they reflect negatively on them or the company, it’s best to keep them to yourself and focus on the positives. Simply say, “I’ve found opportunities to grow and working with you has prepared me for this. So thank you”. The thing is, bosses are people too, and they may feel slighted by your resigning – so focus on flattering them rather than pointing out their shortcomings. As you may need a letter of recommendation from them at some point.
Ask for a reference
Remember, the main reason to resign graciously is to not ruin your connection with key people in your current company (even if you don’t like them very much). So make sure you ask your boss for a recommendation letter before you leave. You can go a step further and ask them to also write a LinkedIn recommendation as well. It will be so much harder to get a reference from them once you leave your job, so it’s best to do it now when they still remember your qualities.
Prepare for an exit interview
The exit interview helps the company better understand the position you held, company work culture, management style, and more. These are especially important if you were a start employee who resigned. While you should be more honest and specific in your exit interview then you were in your resignation meeting, you should still avoid saying things that may be damaging to the company (keep it real, but in a nice way). Questions you should expect include:
- Why are you leaving your job?
- Is there something the new company offers that this company doesn’t provide?
- What was your favourite thing about your job?
- What was your least favourite thing about your job?
- What were your biggest challenges?
- How did you feel about your supervisors?
- Do you have any questions or comments?
- Get the details sorted out
Things you’ll have to figure out once you resign is:
- Paid unused sick leave and vacation time your company owes you
- Employee benefits in your contract
- Severance package (if need be)
- Your NSSF, is it paid out or transferred over to the new job?
- Return all company property
Your reputation is more important that your CV
Just talent and hard work. It’s mostly about who knows your work and talent. And the people you have worked with will always be a reference point for future employers, so make sure you leave on good terms. In fact, it is quite common for your boss to reach out to your past boss without letting you know. So you can’t always control who your references are, but you can definitely control your reputation. So leave on good terms, and you’ll be rewarded for it in the long run.