How To Resign From Your Job Gracefully

Reading Time: 20 mins.

New to the series? Catch up here!

  1. Make a Job-Search Strategy
  2. How to craft a Killer C.V
  3. Why attach a Cover Letter
  4. DIY your Portfolio
  5. Acing the Interview
  6. How to Resign gracefully

I get it. You fought hard for this moment.

You went through sleepless nights researching and applying. You bared endless rounds of nerve-wracking interviews. You said all kinds of lies to impress recruiters. And you ran around the city, pleading strangers to put faith in your abilities.

So when the offer letter finally lands in your inbox, you’ll naturally have sudden urges to scream in your office or tell your boss to go rot in hell (finally!).

That’s what I’d feel liking doing, too. But a word of advice from an experienced soul: Don’t. No matter how awful the company or your boss is, you need to show elegance, empathy, and professionalism while cutting the chord. And here’s why.

Leaving in anger, speaking rudely, or burning bridges forever are not great ideas in any case. Much like creepy exes, messy resignations might come back to haunt your future relationships. How?

  • Firstly, future employers may approach your colleagues or HR through LinkedIn. Without your permission. Discreet back-channeling is perfectly legal and practiced regularly. So having a bad rep will crash your credibility.
  • Secondly, as incompetent as you say they are, your boss may go on to join the company of your dreams. If you ever apply there in the future, and your leader’s opinion is requested… the race is over before it begins.
  • Thirdly, word spreads quickly online. So you don’t want your coworkers spreading dirty rumors about how you made a scene while quitting. Avoid fueling office gossips and guard your reputation closely. Because it affects your network a lot.

If you’ve come to agree with the importance of quitting gracefully, here’s a quick guide on how to do it! We’ll cover 4 main topics ahead:

  1. Writing the letter
  2. Talking with your manager
  3. Setting up references
  4. Tips for your last day

Writing the Letter

After signing the offer letter and celebrating with some pizza, its time to officiate the news with a resignation letter. Keep the document ready in case your boss makes the demand at the meeting when you’ll be breaking it to her.

Here’s a format that covers all bases:

1Say thanksStart by showing gratitude for everything the company has taught you. Be specific about the knowledge, skills, and experiences that have made you a better person.When I first started here, I knew nothing about graphic design. But I’m ever so
grateful to you and the team for pushing me to pick up the skill, making me more
holistic than just a copywriter. It has helped me grow as a marketer, and I thank you all for your efforts in paying for my courses and giving me the software to practice it for 6 mos.
2Make it personalDon’t show hostility or contempt. This doc will go on record, so you don’t want to include anything that shows tension. Instead, say you feel you want to explore more avenues for personal reasons; no one can dispute someone’s instincts.Having picked up a new perspective, I’d like to further explore what I can do in this field. I personally feel like I need a fresh change.
3State it clearlyDon’t use euphemisms or “maybe’s.” State clearly that you’re resigning. Do mention a specific date. The notice period is generally 4-8 weeks. Check your offer letter for that. There’s no need to go into details about your next step. Best to keep things vague; you don’t want them ruining the party.Therefore, I’d like to officially resign from the social media executive post of our company. I shall be moving on to a new space on DD / MM / YYYY.
4Offer supportIt takes planning and resources to hire a fresh face. Show empathy for the team, and offer to help as much as you can during the transition. You can offer to on-board the replacement or create a guideline (SOP) with key resources, assets, and links to make the job easier.I’ll be more than happy to assist in onboarding the replacement if any. In fact, I’ve already set up an SOP for our copywriting projects to ease the transition for our team; anyone who reads the guidelines may be able to pick up the tasks.
5Ask for the next stepsDon’t make assumptions about what’s required. Request for guidance on the next procedures and documentation.Once again, I’d like to thank everyone for the chance, and for helping me grow as a person here. I appreciate all the time we’ve spent together as a family, and hope that I can make you proud with many more milestones down the road. Wishing everyone in the team a year full of success and happiness. Kindly let me know the next steps for my last date, visa cancellation, and other procedures.

Once you’ve printed it out, set up a meeting with your boss, preferably on a Friday so that all parties get the weekend to digest the news.

Hard Talk

I’ve always found this conversation scarier than sitting for interviews. Because by now, you’ve probably developed some rapport with your line manager. Even if there’s a strain in the relationship, you’ve gotten used to it by now. Either way, you’re putting an end to a routine. And change is emotionally hard for everyone. So it’s important to show some empathy regardless of how the other person reacts.

But what’s equally crucial is standing your ground. You’ve made the decision, and if you don’t fight for it now, it makes you look indecisive, which is a bad label to carry even if you choose to stay on. So the challenge is to balance the priorities of both parties involved.

In addition to the letter format, here are some F2F guidelines that can help:

Step 1: Cut the crap

In the letter, you can gradually lead to the big reveal. But in human interactions, we hate to be taken in circles. So don’t beat around the bush, and get over with the hard part first. Clearly state:

“Hey, boss. Thanks for agreeing to meet me. I’m here to tell you about my resignation.” 

Step 2: Express gratitude & justify

Just like in the cover letter. Here’s one more example on how to make your case:

“…While I’m grateful for all those things, my heart says this is the right time to move, and I’m going to follow through on that instinct. I have my own personal plans to follow, which will require me to make this hard decision, and I’m confident about doing the same.”  

Step 3: Share some ideas

Flesh out some plans for your notice period. Mention the projects you plan to take up and finish before you check out. This assures the manager then you won’t slack off and leave things to fate. Remember, you’re still a paid employee till your very last day, so you can’t let down your guard just yet. Show pro-active ownership to avoid any accusations.

Step 4: Stand your ground

For the lucky few who’ve enjoyed a good relationship with the higher-ups, expect a few rounds of bargaining. Any company will try its best to retain top talent. This will usually be expressed in the form of a raise, among other perks. Or your boss may ask you to sleep over it, hoping that you’ll come to your senses by Monday.

In such cases, do NOT back off. The more you prolong it, the harder it’ll get. Politely thank them for offering some time to think. And then state that you’ve made the decision already. So you’d appreciate their blessing.

Step 5: Request for a recommendation

We tend to stick with the beliefs which we’ve put down on paper. So request your boss to endorse and write you a recommendation on LinkedIn. That way, they’re less likely to turn on you in the future… because doing so will mean contradicting their own public quote. You can also request an official letter with your company’s masthead from HR. Nothing wrong in asking to be recognized for hard work.

Setting up References

Once you’re through with the formalities, you should turn your focus to ‘fielding.’ It’s the process of setting up referees for the long term. Catch hold of two colleagues who you trust. They should be good talkers who can sell you well.

First, let them know about your resignation. Then, ask for their permission to share email IDs or phone numbers in case you’re asked to provide referrals in the future. This helps them be mentally prepared on what experiences to share, etc. So all you have to do ad-hoc (after any interviews) is message them the name of the recruiter who’ll be getting in touch. Saves you some briefing time, that’s all.

Saying Goodbye

So your last day is here. And it’s time to walk out. Make sure you do so with a bright smile on your face. Shake hands with your colleagues, dust off any grudges, and leave on a good note with everybody. Because your role here may have ended, but your journey is only starting. Having goodwill is crucial.

Series Wrap-Up

That brings us to the end of our ‘On The Hunt’ blog series. Can you believe it? We started with so much uncertainty but we’ve managed to pull through in the end like I said we would. Here’s one key takeaway from every pit stop:

  1. The job application is about targeting. Take some time to think which companies suit you best, and focus your efforts there rather than blindly shooting everywhere.
  2. The C.V is a summary of your achievements, not your job responsibilities. Focus not on what you did, but what happened as a result of the work- the outcome. Ask, “What value or change did I contribute here?”
  3. The cover letter is all about relevance. Align your previous experiences and future ambitions to the company’s goal. Show a personal connection; explain how you fit into the role perfectly, and how you plan to bring value there.
  4. The portfolio only works when you explain the context behind your work. Don’t assume your reader understands the industry or art. Show empathy and explain your thinking behind the project.
  5. The interview is not an interrogation. Its a two-way conversation. So show confidence and curiosity when you go in; identify what the company needs, and tailor your responses to fill up those gaps.
  6. The resignation is a normal part of the corporate world. But that doesn’t mean you can wing it casually. How you leave will undoubtedly affect your career because karma works in a circle. Don’t burn any bridges and preserve your relationships for the long-term.

All said and done, know that this won’t be the last time you go out on the hunt. There are miles to go before you sleep, so treat every day as a learning experience. After 5-6 times, you’ll get used to the nerves. And you’ll look back, laughing at how you thought you would never survive…


This series has been a team effort. Firstly, I’m grateful to our community of hungry dreamers who took the time to read my thoughts, and share theirs’ in the comments!

Secondly, I’d like to highlight my mother’s unparalleled support. She took the pains to proofread, critique, and suggest edits for every single line. Thanks for being my partner in the arts, Ma!

And lastly, I’d like to pat myself on the back for the initiative. I’m back to blogging after a two-year gap, which I spent blaming my writer’s block. So I challenged myself to finish a series, and as a result, I’ve produced more content in two weeks than I did in the first year of my career as a creative. Kudos!

Here’s to more of such content, and lots of growth! Because I truly believe… Ancora Imparo (I’m still learning).

Want to get to know me more? Here are my deets. hmu!

Published by Manik Rege

Hey there! Full disclosure, I'm a bit of a mess. But my interests range from Career Growth Strategy to Marketing & Branding, and Animal Rights to filter coffee. Same vibe? Tweet to me @manik_rege.

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