Employees leave their jobs for a variety of reasons -- to go back to school, to stay at home with the kids or to take a job with another company, to name a few. Sometimes the reason is as simple as, "I hate my job." Whatever your motivation, communicate the reason to your boss in a way that shows respect for your boss and leaves your professionalism and work ethic intact.
Tell your boss in person -- not in an email or over the phone. Though you might want to avoid an awkward conversation, you owe it to your boss to deliver your parting message to him in person. Plus, you might need him for a recommendation in the short-term, or be destined to work with him again at some point in the future. Use the resignation meeting as your first chance to make a last impression, and create a reputation for being straightforward and honest.
Know what you’re going to say before you say it. Don’t waste your boss’s time with “umm’s” and “uhhh’s” because you’re nervous about how to begin. Rehearse your speech a bit beforehand so you’ll appear confident and relaxed when the time comes. Anticipate being asked some of the following questions: “Aren’t you happy here?” “Who are you going to work for?” “Would you mind telling me what they’re offering you?” “What can we do to keep you?” “Can you work until we find someone else?”
Say it nicely. Phrase your resignation in a way that implies you’re moving toward a can’t-miss opportunity, rather than fleeing your job as fast as you can. For the sake of unburnt bridges, try not to make your employer feel abandoned or insulted. You want to be perceived as a go-getter, not a ship-jumper.
Accentuate the positive. Tell your boss how much you’ve enjoyed working for the company. Tell him specifically what you’ve appreciated and what you’ll miss. If you won’t miss anything and didn’t appreciate anything, at least tell him what you’ve learned from your experience. Be diplomatic. Remember, the world is round. Don’t set anything in motion that you don’t want to come back around.
Give at least two weeks' notice, more if you need time to wrap up your current projects, or if you have a specialized position that might take a long time to fill. Don’t leave your boss in the lurch. Offer to help find and train your replacement, or at least to stay until one is hired.
Be firm. Your boss might offer you lucrative incentives to stay. Only say you’ll consider his offer if there is a real possibility you could be convinced to stay. Don’t agree to think about it because you don’t want to upset your boss. If your mind is made up, say so.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.