How to resign from a job you just started without burning bridges

April 24, 2024

Employee leaves the scene with a box with his belongings

Embarking on a new job adventure is often filled with anticipation and aspirations for future achievements.

However, you may find yourself pondering the idea of resigning from a recently begun job, whether due to unexpected situations, misaligned expectations, or the sudden allure of a different, more enticing opportunity.

The idea of resigning from a new job is daunting, with concerns about professional repercussions and the desire to maintain positive relationships. But you are not alone.

With the right approach, you can ensure a departure that preserves your professional reputation and keeps the door open for future opportunities. In the world of work, how you leave a position can be just as important as how you enter one.

Let's explore the steps to resign from a job you just started, ensuring you leave on the best terms possible.

Before deciding to resign, remember to: 

Opting to resign from a job shortly after starting can be a complex and stressful process. Before making this decision, carefully consider your reasons and explore all potential solutions to this delicate situation. Don’t jump to conclusions; it’s key that you feel confident about resigning from a new role.

Reflect on your reasons

First, seek to understand why you feel compelled to leave your new position. Common reasons might include a mismatch in expectations, an unsuitable company culture, unforeseen personal circumstances, or an unexpected offer from another employer.

Additional obstacles may arise, like experiencing impostor syndrome. Take the time to reflect on your motivations and consider whether the issues you're facing are temporary or indicative of a greater problem.

Explore possible solutions

Before deciding how to resign from a job you just started, explore whether there are feasible solutions to the issues at hand. Could a conversation with your manager about your role or responsibilities lead to positive changes? Would a new onboarding process help at all? Is mental health an issue? Are there opportunities for professional development or mentorship within the company that might improve your situation?

Sometimes, the solution might be as simple as giving yourself more time to adjust to the new environment and getting to know the company and your team better. Don’t be shy and speak to your manager to discuss your challenges. If you work remotely, try meeting your boss in person. That will surely help you make a final decision.

However, if you've already attempted to resolve these issues with no success, or if the problems are fundamentally at odds with your career goals or values, moving on might be the best course of action.

Decide with certainty

Once you’ve thoroughly considered your reasons and explored all possible avenues for improvement, then comes the time to decide.

If resigning is the best choice, proceed with a clear plan on how to resign from your job gracefully, ensuring you leave on the best possible terms. Keep in mind that the job market is like a circle: you will eventually meet some of the people again, and forging connections is never a bad thing.

Remember that resigning from a new job, while challenging, is not uncommon and can be done professionally and respectfully. The key is to approach the situation thoughtfully, ensuring you’re making the best decision for your career in the long run.

Feet standing on painted arrows pointing to different directions

Planning your resignation for a smooth exit

Once you've decided to leave your position, the next step is to plan your resignation carefully. This stage is critical for ensuring a smooth transition for you and your current employer, helping maintain a positive relationship post-resignation.

Timing is of the essence

Choosing the right moment to announce your resignation can significantly impact your employer's response and the ease of your transition. Aim for a time that minimises disruption to your team and allows for a reasonable handover period.

Generally, the standard period is two weeks notice, but this may vary depending on your contract, the country or the nature of your role.

Schedule an exit interview with your manager and review your contract to ensure you're compliant with any specified terms regarding notice periods, be aware of important tasks going on, as well as current projects or other activities.

It is crucial to communicate this decision in person. If you diverge on the timing, do your best to find some common ground.

Preparing a resignation letter or email

Your resignation letter serves as an official record of your decision to leave your job and starts the process on a formal note. Here's how to draft a formal resignation letter that is professional and considerate:

  • Keep it clear and concise: Clearly state your intention to resign from your position, including your proposed last day of work, based on your notice period. This is a critical time, so planning everything is important and will make a difference in how you sound to your bosses and coworkers.

  • Maintain a professional tone: Sustain a positive and professional tone throughout the letter. Express gratitude for the opportunities and experiences you've had. Remember that building a strong professional network is invaluable, and having managers as contacts can open doors for future opportunities. Emphasise the importance of the company and ensure that your decision to resign is based on valid reasons. Whether you choose to delve into these personal reasons or not, it's essential to approach these topics thoughtfully.
Two men talk over a office desk

Let's talk challenges: What to do when things don't go as planned

Resigning from a job you've just started can sometimes veer off the expected course, despite your best efforts to maintain positivity and professionalism.

Preparing for various outcomes, including those that are less than ideal is essential. Here’s how you can handle difficult conversations and manage your expectations during the resignation process:

Preparing for difficult conversations

Anticipate reactions

Understand that your resignation might come as a surprise, and reactions can vary. Your manager may feel disappointed, frustrated, or even upset. Anticipating these reactions can help you prepare mentally and emotionally to handle the conversation with composure.

Plan your approach

Script your main points before the conversation. Be clear about your reasons for leaving, but frame them in a way that focuses on your needs and career goals rather than the company's shortcomings. This approach can help keep the conversation constructive.

Stay calm and professional

Regardless of how the other party responds, remain calm and composed. Control your emotions and stick to your script. This helps prevent the conversation from becoming confrontational.

Manage your expectations

Be realistic

While striving for a positive and amicable departure is important, be realistic that not all aspects will be within your control. Your employer may not react as you hope, making the situation uncomfortable.

Prepare for an immediate leave

In some cases, your employer may decide it’s best for you to leave immediately after your resignation. Prepare for this possibility by organising your workspace and completing any urgent tasks ahead of the conversation.

Seek closure

 If the resignation conversation does not go as planned, seek closure by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and reaffirming your commitment to a smooth transition. This can help leave things on a more positive note, regardless of the initial reaction.

Brace for possible outcomes

Reflect on the experience

Use the experience as a learning opportunity, reflecting on what went well and what could have been handled differently. This reflection can provide valuable insights for your future career moves.

Maintain professionalism

Even if the resignation process becomes challenging, continuing to act professionally can safeguard your reputation and ensure you leave on as positive a note as possible.

Stay focused

Keep your focus on the reasons you are moving on and the new opportunities ahead. This perspective can help you navigate through any immediate challenges during your resignation process.

Post resignation: How to leave a lasting positive impression

Leaving a job, especially one you’ve just started involves more than just saying goodbyes. The period following your resignation is crucial to ensure you leave on positive terms and maintain relationships with your colleagues. It cannot be emphasised enough: departing a job amicably can greatly impact your future career prospects.

Handover system

Prepare a comprehensive handover system of documents and files detailing ongoing projects, key contacts, and any deadlines. Not only will this help your successor or team to continue to work in your absence without significant disruption but it will also make their life easier during a time of changes and adaptation.

Training sessions

If possible, offer to conduct training sessions for your replacement or for team members who will be taking over your duties. This gesture can significantly reduce the learning curve for the new incumbent, and the people in the team will appreciate your efforts. 

Availability for queries

Let your employer know you are willing to answer questions or provide guidance, even after you’ve left, within reason. Making yourself available can be particularly helpful if the recruitment process for your replacement is prolonged for various reasons. 

Offer your support

Offer to assist with the transition, whether through training a replacement or helping to document workflows. Remember that the job market is a cycle so there’s always a good chance that you will work with someone from this team again in the future. Showing goodwill to help will make a strong case for you and prevent bridges from being burned.

Conduct a graceful exit interview

Always be ready for an exit interview, typically conducted by a member of the HR team. This confidential discussion helps the company learn from your experiences to prevent future employee turnover.

Approach this conversation with honesty while keeping your professionalism intact. Avoid being confrontational or bitter; use this as a chance to offer constructive feedback.

Shaking hands

What about remote workers?

The remote work model skyrocketed a few years ago. Almost 13% of jobs are remote, while 28.2% function on a hybrid model. As the trend of remote work continues to rise, employees are allocating less time to traditional office environments, leading to a notable change in how they perceive interactions with their supervisors and colleagues.

Remote workers lead a different lifestyle compared to office workers in various aspects. However, when it comes to resigning, the process remains quite similar. The key distinction is that all communication and procedures must be conducted through video calls and online meetings. This aspect can be viewed as a valuable tool or a potential challenge.

When preparing to resign, promptly schedule calls and meetings with your manager and team. Clearly communicate your reasons for leaving, consider any ongoing projects, and coordinate a smooth handover with your colleagues. Being available and cooperative during this time is crucial for leaving on good terms and maintaining positive relationships. And in case you encounter a negative reaction or response, handle it with professionalism and grace.

Leverage the virtual setting to your benefit when conveying your resignation. Carefully consider your responses and anticipate how your manager will perceive them. Take a moment to pause, collect your thoughts, maybe even go for a quick stroll, and meticulously review your message before hitting send. The substance and tone of your communication are pivotal in navigating this phase successfully.

Sample resignation letter

The example below is an excellent place to start when writing your resignation letter. However, make sure to tailor it to your circumstances.

Dear [Manager/Boss’ name]

Please accept this letter as resignation from [your position] effective [today’s date]. I am giving my [length of time] notice per our company standards. My last day will be [Day, Date. Year].

I will make sure that all my current work is finished, and ongoing projects are handed over to my assigned co-workers. Should we find a replacement for my position, I am happy to get them trained and up to speed before my last day. I will gladly assist in this transition in any way possible.

Working with you and the team for the last [period of time worked] at [Company name] has been a pleasure. This has been an incredible opportunity to grow my career. I will always appreciate [two or three things that you helped with or accomplished in your time there].

Thank you for the opportunity and support. I wish you and the team the best and hope we can keep in touch.

Kind regards
[Signature] [Your name] [Telephone number and Email address]

Embark on your next career adventure with Airswift

A career change can be a big step towards realising your professional dream, and Airswift is a committed ally through this transformative journey.

Leverage our expansive network and our wide-ranging job listings, meticulously curated to align with your next career move.

We invite you to make the most of our resources, expert advice, and support services designed to bolster your career transition. 

Find the right job for you!

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This post was written by: Tomás Battaglia, Content Marketing Coordinator