Job Resignation Do’s and Don’ts for Workers

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Are you preparing to resign from your current job? Here are some general rules and guidelines (do’s and don’ts) about resigning from your job gracefully, carefully, and professionally.

  • Do know how to resign from your job gracefully and professionally. Read more.
  • Don’t get caught off-guard, so do prepare to resign by removing all personal items and files from your office and computer for those instances when your employer will ask you to leave as soon as you tender your resignation.
  • Do make the transition as easy and as smooth as possible. And do offer to help find and/or train your replacement. But don’t make promises you can’t — or won’t — keep.
  • Don’t make any statements or express any opinions that you may later regret. Remember that old adage: if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.
  • Do be sure and give proper notice to your current employer.
  • Don’t burn any bridges. Do leave on good terms with your co-workers and supervisors.
  • Do the exit interview with your current employer, if required. But don’t say anything negative about your supervisor or co-workers during the interviewer — no matter how tempted you are.
  • Don’t disappear during your last weeks on the job. Do stay a productive member of the team.
  • Do make sure you receive all your stored up compensation and benefits, including bonus checks and unused vacation time, personal days, etc.
  • Don’t consider a counteroffer unless you are sure it’s a better deal for you; studies show a high percentage of workers still leave the employer within a year of accepting a counteroffer, some being forced out.
  • Do make a plan to keep in touch with key coworkers, friends, and mentors. Keep your network strong.
  • Don’t feel guilty about leaving. It may be hard to leave, but focus on the fact that you are leaving to accept a great career opportunity.And don’t brag about that great opportunity.
  • Do your best to wrap up all your major assignments. And do leave a detailed progress report for your supervisor and/or successor.
  • Do be prepared for some employers to overreact to your resignation; some employers immediately dismiss employees who resign.
  • Do write a professional resignation letter or memo. See these samples.
  • Don’t feel as though you need to tell your current employer any reason for leaving your job, but do be polite in thanking the employer for the opportunity to work there.
  • Do submit your letter of resignation to your immediate supervisor, with a copy to the human resources department.
  • Do consider these other resignation resources:
    • — a great collection of resources for job-seekers — and not just about resignations or terminations.
    • Leaving With Class — a strong article by Kerry Spivey on

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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