Resignation Etiquette 101

Back in the day when landlines were still an integral part of family life, particularly for love-struck teenagers, it was said to be polite not to call after 9pm. How we live our lives has changed drastically since the invention of the mobile phone, and so too has the world of work. While phone etiquette is something that has become watered down over time, when it comes to work there is still a manner of etiquette that remain a must, especially when it comes to handing in your resignation. 

Resigning from your job can be a daunting experience. If it is your first job you’re moving on from it can be accompanied by a host of confusing emotions. You may be feeling excited about a new prospect while nervous about severing the chord with your current boss. This might also be amplified by the condition of the relationship with the head honcho. You may have a boss who is just that – your boss, and a relationship that is amicable and open, which may make the process easier. You might be best pals with your boss, which could make the process even more difficult as you may be feeling like you are letting him or her down by moving elsewhere.  You may have a boss from hades which has resulted in countless sleepless nights in anticipation of a response mimicking a scene from a Stephen King film. Either way, it’s not easy or particularly pleasant. 

Regardless of what your current situation may be, the best thing you can do for youis to resign in the right way

It’s not only the right thing to do but also the relationship and reference you walk away with can become an invaluable asset on your CV. Regardless of what line of work you may be in, your reputation as an employee is in many instances just as important as your qualification or past experience. 

To help you through the resignation process we’ve put together a few important points to consider that will make things a little easier and ensure that you part ways on good terms. 

Be discreet about it

You may feel the need to confide in a colleague about your decision, and there is no harm in that, but instead of letting the entire office know about it first and having your supervisor hear the news via the grape-vine, be sure to be discreet about your resignation until your supervisor or employer is in the loop. If you were unhappy in your job and have any gripes, rather don’t speak badly of a person or the company. Someone once said, “If you don’t want someone to read something, don’t write it down.” In this case, don’t type it either. Bad mouthing can bite you in the butt later. 

The Notice Period

The notice period is there for a reason. Although you may have the opportunity to start your new job immediately, out of respect for your employer or company and taking into consideration that your role may affect the flow of the company, it’s best to work out your notice period where possible. Finding a new employee to fill your role can take time and as a sign of respect for the opportunity you had at your job, it is good to abide by the terms that were laid out when you began. If a notice period wasn’t discussed at the start, then by law ‘The Basic Conditions of Employment Act’ stipulates that an employee who has been employed for less than six months must give at least a week’s notice, whereas if one has been employed for more than six months but not more than a year, two weeks’ notice is sufficient. If one has been employed for more than a year, four weeks’ notice is the norm.

The letter

You don’t need to be Mark Twain to compile a decent resignation letter. Address the letter or email respectfully to the right person and include your period of notice and a vote of thanks. Even if your job was a stepping stone for you or things may not be on the best terms, rather wrap things up amicably by showing appreciation. 

Be honest

One of the biggest hurdles you may face is the feeling that your employer may respond negatively or hold a grudge. They very well may do that, but how you go about it is more important than how they might respond. There are many cases where people simply up and go without reason or conjure up an excuse, out of fear. It may be daunting, but despite how your employer may respond, it’s OK to be moving onto something new. At the end of the day, you want to be able to walk away gracefully, having done the right thing. Take into consideration that they may feel anxious about having to find someone to replace you after hearing the news and might respond rashly. If your employer has been where you are, they will wish you well, understanding that this is a normal part of life. 

The exit

Don’t be offended if you don’t get a farewell party. But do bid farewell to your colleagues. You never know who you might land up working with, or who might land up working for you one day. 


May 2, 2019 | Vuk’uzenzele

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