5 Steps To Resign With Grace

Importance of Resigning with Grace

Resigning from a job is a significant career milestone that should be approached with grace and professionalism. 

We once had a client share with us an alarming story. He explained that an employee had tendered his resignation – through WhatsApp! When the employee was questioned on his method of resignation, he simply retorted, “Doesn’t WhatsApp suffice?”

This shocking disregard of professional conduct inspired today’s article. While communicating a resignation over text message may initially appear to be fuss-free, it is actually the opposite! Such behaviour reflected poorly on the employee, revealing a lack of respect for his employer. It not only highlighted his lack of organisational awareness and emotional intelligence but also left a bad taste in our client’s mouth!

The reality is, resigning takes much more than a casual conversation over text. It is not enough to tender your resignation over text. Your resignation is a pivotal moment that demands careful consideration, open communication, and, most importantly, a sense of accountability. 

Wondering how to tell your boss you want to resign? Look no further. To help you avoid this scenario, we present to you a 5-step guide for any professional to resign with grace – a celebration of maintaining dignity and poise during career transitions.

Step 1: Goal Planning – Reflect and Prepare

Assessing Personal and Professional Goals

Before embarking on your resignation journey, take a moment for self-reflection. 

Assess your personal and professional goals, discerning whether the decision to resign aligns with your long-term aspirations.

Have you explored alternative pathways within your organisation? Have you engaged in conversations with your supervisors or mentors? Do get feedback from them on what next steps you should take in your professional development. 

It goes against the grain of our industry, but Citadel Search often asks candidates if they have explored other opportunities internally before they make the fateful decision to resign. When organisations have internal mobility strategies, you can stay with your organisation, but move onto a position that better aligns with your career goals. Do explore all possible routes before settling on resigning!

If, after evaluating all internal options, you have set your sights on making a move, your next step should be to time your resignation well. Deciding when to resign is of paramount importance, especially if you have already collected your various bonuses. Though there is never truly a “good” time to resign, strategically planning your resignation can help minimise disruptions to ongoing projects and ensure a seamless transition. Take note of the impact of your departure on colleagues and projects, and carefully develop a plan to mitigate any potential challenges during this transitional period.



Step 2: Resignation Letter Crafting

Once you have determined the “When” of your resignation, it’s onto the “How”. Crafting a well-written resignation letter is an essential step to resign from a job gracefully. Address the letter to your boss, typically your immediate supervisor. Be sure to use a clear and concise structure.

Do express gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities and experiences gained during your tenure. Tactfully explain your reasons for resignation, focusing on the positives, such as personal growth or new challenges, rather than negative aspects or grievances.

Step 3: Arrange and Initiate the Resignation Conversation

So, how to tell your boss that you want to resign? 

Once your resignation letter is prepared, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your decision.  

Ensure that you are not having a faceless meeting. Ideally, have a face-to-face meeting with your supervisor. If this is not possible, arrange for an online video call instead. 

While email or phone communication may seem convenient, a face-to-face meeting adds a personal touch and demonstrates your commitment to professionalism. Do choose a conducive time and setting for the conversation to ensure privacy and minimal distractions, allowing for a productive, uninterrupted discussion.

How to Tell your Boss that you want to resign? 

Approach the resignation conversation professionally. You could begin by sincerely expressing your appreciation for the opportunities provided by your organisation. Clearly communicate your decision to resign, maintaining a respectful and calm demeanour throughout the conversation. Highlight specific achievements or areas of growth during your tenure, emphasising your gratitude for the valuable experiences gained.

It is important to avoid criticising or placing blame on the company. Focus on avenues for personal growth, a desire for new challenges, or career aspirations that have led you to make this decision. It is crucial to convey that your decision was well-considered and not a result of negative experiences or a knee-jerk reaction.

Offer to assist in the transition process by discussing a plan for knowledge transfer. This is particularly crucial if your role involves handling customers or if you have had a long tenure in the organisation and institutional knowledge had been gained. Agree with your supervisor on the timeline for the handover, what to handover, and to whom. Taking a proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to the organisation’s success, even as you prepare to leave.  Transfer these cognitive knowledge onto a reliable process and format where others can follow and understand.  Offer suggestions and support on how to enable a seamless transfer of responsibilities.

Step 4: Complete the Transition Process

The transition period, often overlooked but crucial, plays a significant part in exiting a job with grace. It is not enough to simply dust off responsibilities and count down the days till your departure. 

Throughout the notice period, fulfil your responsibilities with professionalism and dedication. This includes going above and beyond to tie up loose ends, complete pending tasks, and facilitate a smooth handover. Maintain open lines of communication with your supervisor and colleagues, ensuring a trouble-free transfer of tasks and knowledge. Document key work processes and files, providing clear instructions and guidelines for those taking over your responsibilities. 

Share your knowledge and expertise with your successor, or offer training and support to existing colleagues impacted by your departure. This will prove immensely valuable in helping your team adjust to your absence. If possible, assist in finding and training a suitable replacement, contributing to the organisation’s continuity and success. Complete relevant tasks and paperwork efficiently to ensure a smooth transition for your successor. By demonstrating your commitment to the job until the very end, you leave a lasting impression of integrity, reliability and professionalism.

Step 5: Exit Professionally and Maintain Relationships

As you near the end of your tenure with the organisation, it’s time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. 

If given the opportunity, embrace the exit interview as a chance to receive and provide constructive feedback and insight. If you have any grievances, remember to voice them out in a constructive manner and propose solutions for the company to address them. However, keep in mind that the exit interview is not a platform for you to throw stones and vent. 

Approach this conversation with a solution-oriented mindset. Demonstrate that you are still invested in the company’s future success, even as you prepare to move on. 

When bidding farewell to your colleagues and bosses, be sure to do so with gratitude and warmth. Be genuine in expressing appreciation for their support, collaboration, and camaraderie. Don’t be hasty to burn bridges! Remember, it’s a small world out there. Leaving on a positive note translates to a sound personal reputation, and ensures open channels for future collaborations or referrals.

Take It From Us

A candidate once shared with Citadel Search that an ex-colleague told her the proposals she had written while with the company were still very much appreciated to this day. Evidently, she left a significant impact on the organisation, making her an invaluable and remembered asset to the company. 

Your legacy speaks volumes about who you are and what you have achieved. Ensure that your contributions are well-documented and readily accessible – be it projects you have executed, papers you have written, or products you contributed to. Keep in mind that you always leave traces of yourself behind, so make sure your trail is one of excellence!

Several candidates have also shared that even after leaving a role, they volunteered to be readily accessible in the case their organisation needed to tap into their insights for additional information or clarification needs. Citadel Search finds this a great move. With this offer, organisations actively acknowledge the value you brought to the table. It’s also another great testament that you are not leaving them in the lurch!

After Resigning – The Beginning of a New Chapter

Resigning gently and with dignity is an essential aspect of maintaining professionalism and leaving a positive legacy within the workplace. By following our 5-step “How to resign with GRACE” guide outlined in this article, you can navigate the resignation process with integrity and professionalism. 

How you leave your job matters. Resign from a job gracefully, and your coworkers and superiors will thank you. Leave a positive mark, and remember that your journey doesn’t end here.

Resigning should not be viewed as a negative or shameful act, but rather a necessary progression in one’s career in pursuit of personal growth and new challenges.

Reframe how you view resignation, looking at it as a positive step towards taking ownership of your career and self-development. If leaders of the organisation had  made you feel that way, tell them that your time spent in the organisation was fruitful and see it as their way of expressing discomfort or pain at not having you around.  

Your professional path will continue to unfold, and the relationships you maintain along the way can open doors to new exciting opportunities. Citadel Search is here to assist you. We take an innovative approach to ensure we match you with suitable opportunities, and provide personalised guidance and support throughout the entire process. Don’t hesitate to contact Citadel Search today and let us help you unlock your next exciting career adventure!

Together, we pave the way for your continued success.


Check out our latest YouTube video on How to Resign with Grace for more tips and insights! 

Citadel Search is an executive search firm of choice at the forefront of bridging capabilities to unlock possibilities. In the course of working with many top tier MNCs, we have our ears to the ground on pressing issues, and hence seek to empower our clients to close gaps between their organisation’s talent requirements and what top talents are looking for.

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