At Mackenzie England we believe in the saying “the best beginning to your new job is a good ending with your current employer”.  It’s essential to ensure that you depart on a positive, professional note to guarantee that you leave doors open and can rely upon old colleagues for advice and valuable references. After all a strong business network is invaluable in developing your future career!

So how do you ensure that you leave a job on good terms?

Believe in yourself

Firstly and perhaps obviously, before you officially resign, you must ensure you have all the necessary arrangements in place with your new employer; with the job offer in writing and accepted.  You will have hopefully made the decision to move over a considered period, so be confident in why you are making the change and be consistent in how you communicate your decision to your boss, colleagues and wider working relations.  You don’t need to justify your decision to anyone – but you should be confident that it’s the right move for you and deliver that in a consistent, clear and empathetic manner.  If you are making the move for the right personal decisions then any financial counter offer shouldn’t alone persuade you to stay – so believe if your decision and stick with it.

Deliver a positive resignation

Before you arrange to meet with your manager, confirm your notice period in your contract and be prepared for their reaction.  Consider what and who will be affected by your resignation; will you be put on garden leave; is there likely to be a counter offer – and could it persuade you to stay?

Some employers are understanding and treat you with the utmost respect and pleasantness when you resign, accepting that it’s a personal development move for you; others however may not be so accommodating, perhaps taking your decision personally and give you the cold shoulder, or there could be a corporate requirement to place you on garden leave.

Remember to be confident; go into the meeting with a clear reason and positive explanation for why you are leaving and what led you to your decision.  Whether you inform your manager in person or by phone call, follow up the discussion with a formal letter of resignation echoing the reasons you have outlined and include the date of the last day of your employment.  Ensure that you show gratitude for the position and opportunities you have had. By respecting your manager’s procedure for handling your resignation, the process should be positive and mutual.

Share the news consistently and transparently

Once you have agreed your resignation with your manager, you should announce your departure to your colleagues and clients in an appropriate way.  Being honest and straightforward about your new role and ensuring that you are confident and consistent with your message will go a long way: do not fuel office gossip by giving different reasons for your departure; take control of the message and be positive both during and after your departure; and avoid the temptation to bad-mouth your employer, regardless of the situation.

Plan an efficient departure

If you have an agreed notice period, work with your manager and colleagues to agree what you will achieve in that time and to whom you will handover.

To promote a smooth exit and orderly transition, make sure you complete projects you are working on and keep working hard until the very end. It’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends, even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to put in. This is not only for the sake of the person who will be replacing you, but because it’s important to your professional reputation to leave a job on a high and positive note. When you work hard, give value and mend fences, you are literally securing a positive memory in the minds of the people you worked with.  The benefits of this also extend to your next job. You’ll hit the ground running with the energy and attitude you have encapsulated.

Request an Exit Interview

Use the opportunity to be graceful and show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. Be honest in your interview, but don’t use it as a venting session. This will show that you took your job seriously and you will keep your reputation clean by explaining your reasons for leaving as constructive criticism, not blame. It’s becoming more and more common for individuals to return to companies that they’ve worked for in the past. Before re-hiring someone, companies often look at these exit interviews for red flags.

Leave a lasting impression with colleagues

Very often, the people you work with are some of the greatest assets you will have.  They are the relationships that might land you a future job, the people you might want to bring with you into your new team, or the managers who you may end up working for again in the future!  The way in which you leave a job will have a lasting impression on your colleagues so it’s important that you embrace the relationships, thank them for their support and ensure that you do not burn bridges by continuing to work hard until the end, handing-over your role efficiently and professionally.

And finally, always remember: It’s a small world and what goes around, comes around!


Mairi McAdam is an executive search consultant with Mackenzie England.  Based in central Scotland, serving the whole of the UK and working internationally, Mackenzie England pride themselves in being distinctly different; they explore all options to help their clients identify and attract exceptional talent. Along with Mairi, directors Martin and Pia will always be straightforward and honest, providing you with independent advice and guidance. If you would like to find out more please get in touch.


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