How do you not burn bridges when resigning?

If you’re leaving a bad workplace, it can be tempting to say exactly what you think on the way out the door. But it’s always worth trying to stay professional. So how do you not burn bridges when resigning?

Here are three simple steps to follow when resigning from engineering and IT jobs (or positions in any industry) to ensure you keep your professional reputation strong:

Why should you not burn bridges?

If you are leaving for a positive reason – to seek a new challenge or because you are looking for a higher-paying position your current employer can’t offer you – you know all too well why you don’t want to burn bridges when resigning.

If you are tempted to speak your mind about your reasons for leaving an employer because they are negative though, it’s important to remind yourself why it’s usually a mistake to do so:

*It’s unprofessional (and you don’t want to attract a reputation for this)

*You lose out on potentially good (and vital) references

*You won’t be building your network (quite the opposite)

*You may miss out on other opportunities

*You want to maintain good standing among colleagues (who may go on to other businesses)

How not to burn bridges when resigning

1) Tell your boss first (not your colleagues)

You don’t want your boss to find out you’re leaving from anyone other than you. This means not dropping a letter in to HR and not mentioning it even to your closest friends and colleagues at work.

Resign to your boss in person. First, send a little advance notice ahead in the form of an email or by asking them for a serious chat about your future when they have a moment.

Write a professional letter that doesn’t go into too much depth about your reasons for leaving. But do make sure your resignation letter:

*Contains the date you plan to leave

*Says how grateful you are for opportunities and support you’ve received

*Lists how to contact you without company email or accounts

*Is written in a clear, professional, non-aggressive tone

*Is carefully edited and proofread for both errors and tone

2) Give reasonable notice and wrap things up

Give your boss as much notice as you can. Your contract may stipulate how long this is, but you should aim for an absolute minimum of two weeks and preferably four if you can.

This gives your employer enough time to consider how they might replace you. You don’t want to leave people in the lurch looking for a new machine learning specialist overnight!

It’s not only your former manager to consider. Don’t leave old colleagues thinking badly of you because they needed to take on extra tasks because you left in a hurry. Do what you can to wrap up projects or instruct or leave good notes for the person who follows.

3) Think about the emotions involved

Resigning from a job can be an emotional time. This is not always only in terms of the sadness that leaving close colleagues can provoke. It’s also the need to judge the emotional content of your communications and how they can make everybody feel if you aren’t careful:

*On your side – try to be firm yet gentle when you deliver the news. Be kind and try to understand their viewpoint. Yet there’s no need to feel guilty if colleagues respond to your leaving poorly. Try to help them understand your decision.

*On their side – it’s natural for a boss who may have invested in your development to feel a little betrayed even if they understand your reasons for leaving. Be ready to handle a boss who takes it poorly – thanking them for their support is often helpful.

Think about what comes next after you resign

You may have many reasons for leaving your job. Often, these will be very positive – you’re taking the next step in your career. You’re moving on to something big, bright, and exciting.

But make sure you have something to move onto. If you’re not sure where you’re heading, why not talk it over with an expert?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering and IT recruitment agency. Every week, we match people with their dream jobs – exclusive positions you won’t find anywhere else.

Reach out to us today for an obligation-free chat about your career goals and where you want to go next after resigning.