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With the rise of boomerang employees in the workforce, it is more important than ever to resign from your job without burning a bridge. There is nothing comfortable or easy about resigning. However, being prepared can make the process easier for you and your employer. Today, you may not think you ever want to work there again. But you just never know what the future holds, so do your best to leave the door open!

These tips will guide you through the process of resigning in a professional manner that will help preserve your relationships and increase your chance of being considered for employment in the future.

Write a Letter of Resignation

While the letter of resignation is your formal, written acknowledgement that you are voluntarily leaving your position, it is also your opportunity to express your gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity. Keep it brief and positive, and think of it as a combination of a written notice and a thank you note.

Create a Transition Plan

Hopefully you started a transition plan as soon as you decided that you were serious about leaving your employer. If not, you should definitely have one started by the time you accept a new offer of employment and/or are ready to resign. A transition plan is essential for a successful resignation. Include the status of pending projects, recommendations for delegating work until your replacement is hired, shortcuts to important training materials or other documents, etc. You want your employer to know that you care about the company. While a transition plan can be time consuming, it is one of the key things you can provide your employer to make sure you leave on good terms.

Offer a Notice

Even if you don’t think your employer will let you work a notice when you resign, as is common in many sales roles, offer it and be willing to honor your offer. A two-week notice is the standard for professional employees. A three to four-week notice is not uncommon for management and executive positions. Some executives are expected to provide even longer notices. Make sure to include your notice in your resignation letter. Not offering an adequate notice is one of the surest ways to get blacklisted by an employer.

Resign to Your Boss

Depending on the reasons that you decided to resign, it may be less awkward to resign to an HR representative or upper level manager. However, unless there are extenuating circumstances or your company policy dictates otherwise, it is best to resign directly to your immediate supervisor. This shows respect and will help preserve the relationship you have established with him/her. Don’t let others (peers) know you are resigning before your boss knows. The one thing that is sure to make resigning even more awkward is for your supervisor to hear about your resignation through the grapevine instead of from you. Be honest (within reason) about the reasons for your departure, but make sure the overall discussion is positive. This is not the time to tell your boss that you hated working for him/her!

Participate in an Exit Interview

If you are requested to participate in an exit interview, comply. Be honest and provide constructive feedback during the exit interview. Make sure to interject positive feedback and not just negative feedback. For every one negative comment, try to include at least two positive comments. Avoid tangents and keep your responses short but honest. Companies use data from exit interviews to make improvements within their organization and to evaluate the success of certain programs. Your honest feedback is very important. But this, just like your face-to-face resignation meeting with your supervisor, is not the time to declare your hatred for your boss, coworkers, the owner, etc. Be honest but respectful.

Provide Personal Contact Information

There are exceptions, but in many cases, offering your personal contact information to your supervisor can be beneficial. Offer to assist with any questions or issues, even after your departure. Ask your employer to respect the commitments you will have to your new employer, which means you may not be as responsive as he/she is accustomed to, but offer to respond to a reasonable number of questions that might come up after you have left. This will also help you maintain a relationship with your former boss.

Prepare for Awkwardness

Once you resign and your peers become aware, things will be different…INSTANTLY. Your peers may become standoffish, less friendly, or even short tempered with you. Keep in mind that your resignation may leave them with many questions about what will happen with the work you were doing and who, if anyone, will replace you. This uncertainty can lead to anxiety, lack of sleep, and other issues that may present themselves through altered (less friendly) behavior. Show empathy for these emotions. Keep focused on transitioning your work, keep a positive attitude and remain as helpful to your peers as you can.

Keep in Touch

Leaving a job means that you no longer work with your previous peers. It does not mean that you no longer can communicate with your previous peers. Keep in touch with them on a personal level, but don’t pry too much. What is going on with your past employer is really not your business once you resign and asking too many questions about it can make your previous peers feel uncomfortable. Maintaining relationships with past coworkers is not only good for your future with your previous employer, but it can also make the transition to your new job easier. People become friends when they work together for a long time and it can be hard to let go of those relationships cold-turkey.