Resigning gracefully
July 4, 2021 7:47 AM   Subscribe

What is the correct order of operations for resigning one's job? I may be giving notice at work soon, and I've never actually done this before, despite being fairly far into my career! (Previous departures have always been as part of large layoffs/reorgs, etc.)

Is this the correct order to do things? What am I missing?

1. Receive formal job offer
2. Tell my boss over Zoom (we're still remote -- this is the closest thing to in person)
3. Send official resignation email to HR, cc'ing the boss
4. Tell the team that reports to me (I'm thinking tell them as a group so they all hear it at the same time, and then check in with them individually?)
5. Tell the manager of the team that my team works most closely with
6. Tell the members of that team (possibly the manager from step 5 will want to drive that, and I'll check in with folks individually too afterwards)
7. Tell people who are coordinating projects my team and I are involved in
8. Tell various and sundry other people that I work with or who reach out to me with questions

I know that after steps 2&3, my management may take the reins on disclosure, but I wanted to have a solid mental picture of what was appropriate. (I'm also pretty sure there's a mildly awkward conversation with my boss's boss at that point too, but I'm sure my boss will drive that part.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Congrats! A few modifications I'd make:

0. When you're in the final stages, it might make sense to give your boss an early heads up, especially if the transition period will be short or if there's any chance that they're going to call your boss for a reference. (I was once very glad I'd given my boss a heads up that I had applied for an internal position because they checked with my boss on my performance anyway, and I was really glad they weren't blindsided.)

4. I would tell the team members one by one (ideally on a day that you can meet with all of them in fairly rapid succession) and follow it up with a group announcement so everyone knows that it's out in the open. This way people can have their more private one on one reactions before having to act fine with the news in a public setting. Then check in with them again about the transition a couple days later.

I'd personally do #5 before #4, asking them to keep it confidential until you've told your team. Then after you tell your team, give the manager a heads up and let them be the one to first tell their team.
posted by slidell at 8:00 AM on July 4, 2021

You're missing the part where your org reacts to HR receiving your two weeks' notice by terminating your employment immediately and trying to get as close as they can, over Zoom, to replicating the experience of having Security watch you clear out your desk and escort you off the premises.

Now, they might not do this but you should make sure that your financial ducks are in a row in case they do.
posted by flabdablet at 8:01 AM on July 4, 2021 [29 favorites]

Flabdablet is exactly correct. Make sure you have everything you could possibly need from your work computer backed up before saying anything to anyone.

Steps five onward are optional and can happen on an ad hoc basis.

I’ve always combined steps 2 and 3 into an email to my boss with HR cc’ed.

This is probably a formality, but step 1a is to accept the formal offer and agree on details of start date, etc. Don’t resign just because you got an offer.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:08 AM on July 4, 2021 [9 favorites]

1b Pass background check and ensure that new employer confirms that background check is good.

HR might want to have an exit interview with you. You might want to figure out if you want to give them honest feedback or just say how wonderful everything was, but you just couldn't pass up this new opportunity (most would recommend the latter).

I think you're correct in that you may not have as much control about disclosure.

Below is a resignation letter template I stole from reddit, but now I have no idea who the original author was...
Dear Blank,

Please accept this letter of resignation from my position at______

I have accepted a new career opportunity that is a good decision for me and my family.

I am hereby providing you official notice that my last day of employment will be *two weeks from today's date

Thank you so much for my time here. I have worked alongside some excellent colleagues and have enjoyed the opportunities to grow and develop in my career field. I will never forget my time at and working with the team. I am hopeful for a positive letter of reference to further my career, as we all continue to make life and career transitions.

I will do my best to complete any transition work with the team. Please advise on any specific knowledge transfer that needs to happen before two weeks from today's date.

Kindest regards

posted by skunk pig at 8:12 AM on July 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

You have a sound outline.

By the time you're in the 6-8 region, you can usually figure everyone's heard through the grapevine; I wouldn't worry too much about the order of operations there.

A final e-mail blast to everyone you know by name saying "As you probably know, I'm leaving, you are great people, I'll miss you, stay in touch at " has become pretty standard at my company as people move on.
posted by mark k at 8:22 AM on July 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Your list looks totally fine :)

Make sure your new position is absolutely nailed down before you resign. That means you need an offer letter or contract that's been signed by both parties. It should include, at a minimum, a start date, job title, and salary.

If there's a background check and you're feeling conservative you could wait until it's back and that condition is formally waived, but i) sometimes background checks take a while depending mostly on how efficient HR is; it's not unusual for the results to come back after the start date. And ii) it's pretty rare for background checks to be problematic; mostly they are a kind of corporate CYA box-ticking exercise.

Also yes, get your ducks in a row from a housekeeping perspective before telling your boss. That usually means stuff like removing any personal property from the workplace, making copies of any digital things you want to keep, deleting personal stuff from work equipment that needs to be returned, etc.

You might also want to consider drafting & setting up an autoreply for your work email. Some companies have standard practices for how this gets done, but a remarkable number don't. If you do it, it would be something like "Hi & thanks for your email! As of [X date] I am no longer with [Y Company], and this address will not be monitored. Please redirect your mail to [some other person]."
posted by Susan PG at 9:17 AM on July 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would consider skipping #6-8 entirely. It can be argued #6 is the job of the other manager and you would be overstepping by doing that. You can follow through with #7-8, but I would just mention it during an already scheduled meeting. I wouldn't go out of my way to contact the people and tell them. And the grapevine can do it for you.

The exception to that, especially skipping #6, would be if you are talking about dotted line vs actual work. For example, my dotted line manager (who I officially report to in the hierarchy) knows very little of what I actually do, but he manages everyone in my role. My daily check-in meetings are with a cross-functional team where I am one of two people with my role, and I consider them my "real" team. In that case, I would tell my official manager first and then contact my "real" manager and let him know as well. (And my company gets that; I've had four managers in the last year because they kept re-assigning me. Three of the four are currently with the company, it wasn't a mass exodus. If anyone is really curious of why that happened - I had a role-based manager and he left, I was then assigned to his manager per protocol, then assigned to the same "real" manager mentioned earlier so my assignment was closer to my work, and finally they hired a new role-based manager and I went back to that department.)

Of course, all of this assumes you work for a healthy company that lets you work through your notice period. If it's at all toxic or poorly run, the others are correct that your employer may speed up the timeline. Despite what some seem to think, not every company shoves you out the door when you give your notice (but some definitely do). I'm 100% certain based on watching others leave (including just last week) that if I were to give notice, I would work my notice period and then leave. No security watching me, no rushed timeline. If anything, they might ask me if I could extend my notice period. Though that's because I am the only expert of my kind in the company, so there is a lot of knowledge transfer that would need to happen.
posted by Meldanthral at 10:49 AM on July 4, 2021

And ii) it's pretty rare for background checks to be problematic; mostly they are a kind of corporate CYA box-ticking exercise.

But it's still a contingency - especially if the offer letter says "contingent on the completion of a background check (or drug screen, or reference check, or etc etc)". I get paranoid about anything that makes the offer letter anything less than 100% solid, and I have no skeletons in my closet.

My advice when I see a clause like that in an offer letter is to slow the process down and get EVERYTHING sorted out and all the boxes checked. Then I ask HR to generate another offer letter with those phrases removed.

It's literally free insurance if the new company pulls a switcheroo on you.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:02 PM on July 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

like others, I got hung up on the missing 1x steps that take you from offer letter to signed offer letter.

The most important bit of this sequence is this: Tell oldjob about newjob only when newjob is signed/sealed/delivered/yours, when all the contingencies and variables in the offer are settled.

Do not agree to a start date with the new job until all those ducks are in a row. Once you've got your new start date, oldjob can hit the rear view mirror and you can start your communications plan. I have known people who went from having two jobs to zero jobs and it's an awkward thing to explain to future interviewers.

I wouldn't worry about sequencing anything beyond step 4 of your plan. Word about departures spreads quickly and outside of your control, so don't worry about those people beyond step 4 unless your departure creates a specific/unusual urgency for them, then you're being a good egg by taking care of them specifically.

Congratulations on your new gig! Very little feels better to me than quitting a job, even a good one. All those stresses that aren't yours anymore, it's like being reborn.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:01 PM on July 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nthing making sure that anything on your work machine that is yours and you don't have a copy of already is backed up. Be extremely careful not to take things that could be considered company information with you, especially things like lists of customers. Or even e-mails from customers.

And Nthing that you're overthinking steps 5-8. Your management will likely handle that. If your company is having attrition issues, making a big deal out of your exit may leave a bad taste in their mouth. Depending on your company, your access may get cut almost immediately so you may not have the chance to say goodbye to everyone what with the nature of remote work. If you have an out of bands way of communicating with them, you can use that but be tasteful with what you say.
posted by Candleman at 6:41 PM on July 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

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