A recruiter’s guide to resigning with ease and avoid burning bridges

Resigning from a role or receiving a resignation is rarely an enjoyable experience. Regardless of what side of the table you are on, everyone wants to move through the process with professionalism and integrity. The best-case scenario we all wish for is one where we can move forward in our career with a positive professional relationship – and avoid any ongoing negativity or ill feelings. Fortunately, there are a few do’s and don’ts that we can share with you from our years of recruitment experience to help you navigate resigning or receiving a resignation and the transition period that it comes with. Let’s tackle some of the big questions (and the questions you didn’t think to ask but need to know) about resigning with ease.


Short on time? Here is the TL;DR version:

  • Be clear on why you are choosing to leave whether it be career growth, money, location or something else 
  • Give your manager the opportunity to resolve any career concerns you are having (and the earlier you do this, the better!) 
  • Reflect on your goals and prepare your response to a potential counter offer
  • Consider whether you need a new role lined up before resigning
  • Prepare your handover documents, a letter of resignation, a booked face-to-face meeting with your manager, structure a plan for your resignation and plan something to look forward to post-resignation
  • Mindset is meaningful: Keep it positive and be prepared for buyers’ regret (or graduation googles) 
  • Hiring managers – make sure you have a formalised offboarding/exit checklist ready to go

First things first – if you are thinking about moving on:

Are you sure of your decision?

At this point, you’ve decided it’s time to go. Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: why are you leaving? Is it career growth, money, culture, location or something else? Perhaps you have achieved everything you wanted to in this company and are ready to embark on your next challenge. There are many different factors in your personal or professional life that can trigger your resignation. Make sure you are clear on what those reasons are and how they factor into your bigger career goals.

Have you flagged any issues with your manager?

Telling your manager that you’re leaving is no doubt one of the hardest conversations you can have in the workplace. So why not reduce the surprise factor and start the conversation earlier by setting a meeting to talk through the issues you are experiencing before you draft your resignation letter?

Flagging what isn’t working in your current role with your manager gives them the opportunity to resolve the career concerns you are having. Whether it is that you are feeling underpaid, lacking growth or something else – you need to give your manager the chance to address these concerns.

If the concerns can’t be addressed, your manager *should* respect the fact that you have given them a chance to address them and feel less shocked if you do resign.

Best case scenario – a good manager will listen and see if there is a resolution to be had.

Best worst-case scenario – together you can head towards a ‘professional break up’ in the most constructive way with all cards on the proverbial table.

Have you considered what you might do if you receive a counter offer?

To counter-offer or not to counter offer? That is the question.

As recruiters, we have found that if an employee is already out interviewing in market, they already have one foot out the door and are likely to leave in the near future. And yet, the allure of counter offers is an attractive one for many.

And to that we ask our candidates:

  • Why did you want to leave in the first place?
  • What do you stand to gain/lose by staying?
  • Does staying get you closer to any of your personal or professional goals?

Throughout your resignation journey, it’s important to refer back to why you decided to leave in the first place and ensure that any counter offer received addresses those core career concerns, and isn’t just a ‘band-aid’ solution. As recruiters, we do see candidates accept an alluring financial counteroffer only to leave months later for the fact that their core concerns haven’t been resolved.

On the flip side, employers should consider whether a ‘bless and release’ or a counter offer is the next best course of action. In some instances, employers may find their energy better spent nurturing talent who want to stay while ensuring exiting staff have a positive experience on their way out as money on its own is rarely the only factor in one’s career contentment.

Do you need to have a new role before resigning?

The answer to this question… is that there is no right answer – sorry! The choice to resign before or after you have a new role lined up will ultimately depend on why you are leaving in the first place and how prepared you are.

Here are a few points you may want to consider:

  • Do you require dedicated time to explore new opportunities?
  • Do you have a sufficient safety net?
  • Is your mental health at stake?
  • Are you interested in pursuing self-employment opportunities?
  • Are you prepared for how long (or how quickly) it could take?

As recruiters, our recommendation would be to at least start a job search and explore what the market has to offer before you resign. You may find that doing this will at least give you an idea of what is required for you to land a new position; for example, additional training or education. We encourage you to consider what is best for you and your circumstance before making a move to resign.

If you have done the above and are still resolved to resign, make sure you have your resignation toolkit ready!

You bet we are going to quote Benjamin Franklin right now and say “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When it comes to resigning, you want to be prepared. Resigning can be an emotional process so taking time to make the process as structured as possible will help ease some stress. Here’s our five-step checklist:

1. Always be documenting 

Any employee or employer will know that a smooth handover can make a huge difference to the onboarding and offboarding experience. Not only will your team be grateful, but you can also leave with your head held high knowing you have set the next person up for success before starting the next exciting phase of your professional journey. The key is to start this process as soon as possible, and by ‘soon’ we mean from Week 1 of your role.

While the detail and length of a handover will depend on the complexity and seniority of the role, by continuously documenting your work, you are creating a single source of truth that will save time and energy, improve quality control and encourage knowledge sharing in your organisation.

Here are some things you might want to include:

  • Key day-to-day activities, processes and responsibilities
  • Access to all relevant documents and files
  • Project deadlines and status updates
  • Information about any regular/recurring meetings
  • A list of key contacts – customers, clients, stakeholders, managers
  • Login and passwords details (this depends on your organisational size, security obligations and IT setup but one to consider)

While it might sound a little stiff, prioritising documentation means you and your team will build a stockpile of information you can lean on in all sorts of circumstances.

2. Letter of resignation (LoR)

A FAQ that we always get is “If I am resigning in person, do I still need to do a Letter of Resignation?”

So the quick answer is: YES! You are terminating a contractual relationship and need a formal Letter of Resignation so both parties have a written record.

When it comes to your Letter of Resignation, keep it brief, courteous and most importantly, keep emotion out of it. With that in mind, it does not need to be a Shakespearan-written body of work but it does need to be functional and include all the right details ready to present after meeting with your manager. This includes a statement that you are resigning, your anticipated last day of work (based on your contracted notice period) and a short explanation of why you are leaving.

BONUS TIP: Fair Work has a great generator that does a lot of the heavy lifting that you can tweak and personalise from there. Find it here. Don’t forget to keep a copy for your records!

3. Book a face-to-face catch-up with your manager

No one likes to be broken up with via text (or email) and the same goes for resignations. When it comes time to resign, book a face-to-face catch up with your manager.

Naturally, with hybrid work becoming more popular, a face-to-face meet-up is not always possible. The next best option, in this case, would be a video call.

4. Structure a plan for your resignation

On top of your official handover, working with your manager to create a plan for how your resignation will roll out can make all the difference to your resignation. This includes how your resignation will be communicated to the team, what sort of handover will be done (i.e. documentation, training) and how you can help facilitate the process. This shows that although you are resigning, you are still dedicated to the success of the business and that goes a long way in keeping a strong relationship with people in the (metaphorical) building beyond your time there.

5. Plan something to look forward to after you resign!

We saved the best to last! Maybe it’s a holiday, a fancy dinner, a fun project or a professional development course you haven’t had time for… Plan something to get excited about and to help release some stress post-resignation. You’re future self with thank you for it!

Okay, let’s do a quick recap! At this point, you should have:

  1. Raised issues with your manager in the lead-up
  2. A clear picture of why you are leaving whether it be money, growth etc.
  3. Considered what it would take for you to stay / what you would do if a counter offer were to be put on the table
  4. Have your resignation toolkit ready to go including handover documents, a resignation letter and something fun to look forward to

My toolkit is ready! It’s time to resign. Here are a few mindset tips that will help make a real difference in your resignation:

  • Keep it positive! How you carry yourself and manage your resignation will determine the tone of your exit and the relationships with past colleagues. It could also make all the difference as to whether the door will be left open for you to return one day if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your manager about exiting earlier than your notice period – yes really! This will ultimately depend on the company and manager you are leaving but provided it works for all parties, you ultimately have nothing to lose in this scenario by asking.
  • Be prepared for buyers’ regret a.k.a. decision regret a.k.a. ‘graduation goggles’. Leaving a job is a huge life change and it’s normal to experience these feelings. It helps to remember why you are leaving in the first place.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate. Take a moment to reflect on the work you’ve done with your (almost) past employer and toast to an exciting next chapter!

And if you’re still in doubt… call a recruiter!

If you’re gearing up to resign or even just open to the idea of exploring new opportunities, reach out to the team at Hunt & Co.. We can help you consolidate your career goals, explore new opportunities and give you advice on how to resign.

Hey hiring managers! We haven’t forgotten about you! Do you have your offboarding checklist set up and ready to go?

Your offboarding process is arguably as important as your onboarding process – just for different reasons. Keeping the professional relationship positive once a team member resigns will ensure that you have past employees acting as brand ambassadors for you and your company in market.

Make sure you have a formalised exit checklist to ensure the process is quick, easy and professional from your end. Here is a quick list to get you started:

  • Perform an exit survey or interview to gain feedback on that employees’ experience
  • Priority lock-out list i.e. databases, contacts, and security information. Don’t leave this to guesswork!
  • Recover company assets i.e. laptops, office keys, WFH equipment
  • Provide clear handover requirements
  • Where appropriate, provide letters of reference and exiting documentation
  • Communicate this employee’s departure to the team
  • Process their final pay
  • Where appropriate – celebrate the employee out the door! There is always a possibility that former team members will ‘boomerang’ back to the business so it’s crucial to empower your team to leave with integrity. The way you conduct yourself as a leader during these times can have a powerful (and memorable) effect on your culture
  • Consider the chances of this person leaving and having others follow. It’s worth checking in with other team members to ensure you can plan accordingly
  • Review your replacement/hiring plan and get in touch with your recruitment partner! We can help with contract and permanent hiring support across technology, product, design, digital marketing, project management and leadership roles

Want to continue the discussion? Whether you are thinking of resigning, want to chat more about your hiring plan or need more talent for your team, we’re here to help! Reach out to the Hunt & Co. team today.

Career Advice, Industry & Career Insights

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