Resigning Professionally

Your favorite IT Recruiter, Engineering Recruiter or Technical Recruiter has just gotten you that terrific job opportunity. You’ve been given a great offer and have accepted! Congratulations! All you have to do now is announce the news to your current employer. Simple, right?

Well, if done correctly, it is simple. However if your resignation is not done well, you may find yourself in a real quagmire, transforming the ‘simple’ into something  painful; potentially damaging to your credibility, reputation and relationships.

Here are three simple things to keep in mind when approaching this very sensitive moment.

Be Clear in your Communications

You will be meeting (preferably face-to-face) with your manager to inform him/her of your intentions to leave. The conversation should have three simple elements:

  1. Thank your manager and relevant members of the leadership team for the opportunity to work with them, for all you have learned during your time together and for the chance to contribute. Because you are delivering what is likely to be perceived as negative news, it is imperative you remain positive about your experience with the company. This is absolutely NOT the time for a complaint session.
  2. Announce your intentions to leave the organization and give your notice. Two weeks is standard. However, if pressed for additional service, offer your time in the evenings or on weekends to ease the transition. You may even arrange for this to be paid on a consulting basis.
  3. DO NOT offer specifics about your reasons. Rather, indicate an opportunity you simply can’t turn down has presented itself. This is not about the role you are leaving and the problems or challenges you’ve been experiencing. Instead, this is about the specialness of the new opportunity you are move toward. It is compelling enough as to leave you with little choice but to accept the new role and move on. You don’t need nor should you want to explain further. It is your business.  

The reason we avoid making the resignation ‘issue specific’ is because that approach invites unnecessary conversation or even negotiation.

For example:

You say: ‘Sorry boss, but I’m leaving for a new role.’

Boss: ‘Why are you leaving? I didn’t know you were so unhappy!’

You: ‘Because of X reason with my job or with our company’.

You have now placed yourself in a difficult position. Your manager’s natural response will be to offer to fix ‘X’. What do you say then? Give another reason he/she will offer to fix?

This process will lead to one of two things. Your boss will feel you weren’t being straight with your reasons and that may generate lingering resentment. The other possibility is your boss may just wear you down, leading you to relent, passing up your great opportunity only to find what your boss offered to fix your concerns, hasn’t. Worse yet, a few months later you find yourself back in the market only the great opportunity you had in your hand is now gone as is your relationship with that special company as well as with the recruiter.  


Keep your promises and keep your head down and mouth closed.  If you offer to do something to make the transition simpler for your manager, follow through. Yes, the extra time is tiresome but stay true to your word, remain professional.

Don’t be a Pied-Piper with your co-workers. When they call or stop to congratulate you, don’t give them specifics about what a terrific opportunity you have moving forward.  That won’t help them in their circumstances and in the majority of the cases that information will get back to management, casting shadow on you. Your friends at the company will want to know details.  Be smart, keep it positive but vague. If they are real friends, they will respect your professionalism.

Stick to your Decision

Recognize that your resignation will most likely be viewed as bad news by your manager (at least one might hope so). Attrition is difficult for the people you leave behind. Your manager now has his/her usual slate of issues plus the challenge of replacing you. It would be much easier, at least in the short run, to keep you. They may make one or more overtures to keep you.

resigning professionally


Once you have progressed to the point of getting another offer and decided to accept, know that in the majority of cases nothing (other than the raise they offer to entice you to stay) will ultimately change.

Stick to commitments. You will earn their respect for being resolute and professional…. maximizing the opportunity to work with one or more of these

people again or to use them as a reference should that situation present itself in the future.