So You Want To Resign? How To Do It Right

Simon Toop, Director at Enterprise Sales Personnel, shares his experiences and advice on an effective strategy for when you are wanting to resign.

I’m often asked by candidates for effective strategy for when they resign.

Over the years I’ve learned that every resignation is different. These can range right through from swift cheerful goodbyes to long drawn out processes where leaving seems to have turned into something resembling a war crimes tribunal where solicitors have become involved.

I have many stories.

Whilst every set of circumstances when someone leaves a company is different, there are a few guidelines that I’ve learnt which when put in to practice correctly can make the process a little easier and less stressful for all involved.

So here are some points I’ve thought of to bear in mind;

Decide if you are going to consider a counter-offer from the outset

Ideally for all involved you will have decided from the outset whether or not you would consider a counter-offer when resigning.  Rather than leaving this decision until the end of your interview processes, it is much less stressful and more professional if you have done everything you can to see if your current employer understands your reasons for moving on and you have researched the possibility of getting what you need from your current business.  If you are sure you cannot, tell the recruiter you are working with and those around you that under no circumstances are you going to consider a counter-offer and stick to it.

Research what happened when others around you resigned

What was the reaction of the business and how was the whole process handled?  You can learn a lot by speaking with former colleagues who have moved on and they could help you prepare for what is about to come.  Who do you know who you could reach out and speak with?

Expect any unpaid bonuses to be cut or not paid at all

Successful salespeople always have a pipeline of commission that is due to be paid, naturally.  As salespeople ourselves in recruitment, we understand that when you have worked veryhard on a project it is very hard to accept that you may not be able to see some or all of the reward.

From my experience it is something that you need to be realistic with yourself about.  It is very common for people to be owed outstanding commission and to write it off.  I have seen some circumstances where employers have sent back-dated payments to people who have moved on but the reality is that this is very rare and the opposite tends to be the norm. You will most likely to have to accept that the last commission payment may be little or nothing at all and you have to walk away.  I’ve seen all sorts of emotional reactions to this in the past and one or two have led to very messy situations including court action for non-payment of bonus!  This can be a long drawn-out process, is often unsuccessful and likely to hinder any job prospects you may have waiting on your resignation. Think carefully before you decide how you are going to handle this – it could cost you more than just your commission!

Deal with the resignation in one meeting

Avoid the same conversation over and over again.  It is not a good decision when you resign to agree to more than one meeting to discuss the reason for your resignation. It will only make the whole process much more complicated and protracted.  Most businesses that lose good people will ask for your reasons.  However, many companies will aim to lead people into counter offer negotiations by asking you to list the things that are concerning you.  This very often a sales process to get the person to download their objections and see if the business can counter them and keep them in the position for a little longer whilst they have time to consider a long term fix.  By making your exit discussions more protracted you are only giving hope to those you report to that they may be able to hold on to you.

The easiest way is to let people down gently but firmly.  You need to tell them that the meeting you have called with them is the last one you will have when you will be explaining your reasons for leaving and you do need to ask them for their commitment to allowing you to immediately commence your notice period.  In most cases line managers are understanding but if yours is a bit more along the lines of Kim Jong-un then this advice to be firm is even more important.  If you have had a great relationship with the person you are resigning to of course this conversation may seem cruel but I’ve learnt the opposite from the feedback I’ve had.  The more firmly you insist in this meeting that you are leaving and there is no going back the better it is for all.  For example, your former boss can start planning for life without you with no delay.

Be aware of the impression you are giving to your future employer

Put yourself in their shoes.  You have extended the candidate an offer but you are waiting for a long time to see a signed copy of a contract and you have received no further communication for days either from the recruiter or from you directly.  It gets things off on the wrong foot.  Ideally, tell the recruiter which day you will be resigning, to whom and when and have a sense of urgency to get it done.  Then once you have finished the exit meeting, call your new employer and give them the great news.  This will clearly demonstrate that you are able to deal with a tough meeting swiftly and give huge confidence to the person you are joining that you deliver quickly on your promises.  This will serve to further strengthen their own belief that their decision to invest in you was the right one.

Remember that your allegiance the moment you resign should be with your new employer and you should now be reaching out to them to find out what you can be doing in preparation for joining.  Of course you should act professionally and do a full handover to your old business but from now on a lot of your focus should also be on what you are going to do next and to understand the expectations of your next immediate line-manager, so stay in touch with them regularly.

About Simon

Simon Toop is a Director at Enterprise Sales Personnel Ltd. He is an experienced IT Sales recruiter and has been with ESP for the last 8 years.

If you are looking for your next career move in IT sales and you would like Simon to help you, contact him directly at or via is LinkedIn page