How to handle what happens when you resign

No one finds it easy to hand in his or her notice. You have difficult feelings to deal with and potentially a difficult situation. But with some preparation and thought, your resignation can go more smoothly.

You’ve accepted your new job. You’re ready to leave the old one. There’s just one thing to do: resign. So, if your move is such a good one for you, why do you feel bad?


You initially considered changing companies, because your present position can no longer offer the growth potential to match your experience. It is true to say that your present company has helped you progress professionally and as a result, you may feel uncomfortable resigning. You will be leaving fellow managers and colleagues. You may even see some of them out of work as social friends. These people may have been instrumental in advancing your career. All or some of the above may make you feel uneasy, however...

When to hand in your resignation

Most people hand in their resignation on a Monday morning. This leaves them open to huge amounts of pressure from their managers and colleagues and can even lead to bad feelings during work time. Far better to submit your resignation on a Friday afternoon. In this way you can get away from all the pressures and spend that vunerable first few days in the company of supportive family and friends.

So what can I expect when I tender my resignation?

Your company will be sorry to lose you. You have contributed to their sales and profits. You are probably involved at the moment in a project within your workplace that requires your talents. Put yourself in your boss’s position. What would you do?

The counter offer

It is natural to resist change and disruption. Your boss will be no exception. They will want to keep you and will attempt to do so with a counter offer. In their eyes, your acceptance of a new job is definitely a mistake.

Counter offers have many variations:

  • “This is confidential and I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but we were looking at promoting you in the next six months.”
  • “We will match your new offer and put it into effect next pay day. I had meant to review it anyway.”
  • “Don’t make a decision now, have a think about it and we’ll sit down next week and discuss it.”

Implications of the counter offer

Of course it is flattering that your company is concerned to hear that you are leaving, so your emotions can obscure the reasons behind your decision to leave. It is natural to be apprehensive about leaving and to let that one final nagging doubt about doing the right thing grow out of proportion the more your boss tries to convince you. Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • “I made the decision to leave because I felt the new position offered me the best environment to fulfil my career needs. If I stay will the situation here really improve just because I said I was leaving?”
  • “If I stay, will my loyalty be suspect and affect my chance for advancement once the dust has settled ?”
  • “This rise makes me expensive for the job position I’m in. How will that affect any future rises?”
  • “I got this counter offer because I resigned ~ will I have to do that the next time I think I’m ready for a rise or promotion?”

Remember – it’s costly to replace you!

The professional attitude

The professional manager will make a career decision objectively. It will be free of the emotional pressures one is likely to feel when being urged to reconsider. Advice will be offered by well meaning friends, relatives and business associates. Depend primarily upon your own judgement because quite simply you are the only one who can fully understand the implications.

Remember, the counter offer is only a belated recognition of the contribution you have made to your company. If it had come unprompted, wouldn’t that be a lot more flattering? Move ahead with the goal of making yourself as valuable to your new employer as you now know you were to your old.

Prepare the questions that you are going to ask about the potential employer

  • A detailed description of the position
  • Reason the position is available
  • Culture of the company
  • Anticipated induction and training program
  • Advanced training programmes available for those who demonstrate outstanding ability
  • The sort of people who have done well
  • Earnings of those successful people in their third to fifth years
  • Company growth plans
  • Most successful sectors / disciplines
  • The next step


If you are a Northwest candidate Futura will often come along and buy you and your former colleagues a few beers when you actually leave so you don’t even have to pay for your leaving do! Just give us a call for details.


“I have worked with Tim Goodwin on and off for a number of years when personally seeking work. Not only has he been the only consultant that I have ever returned to repeatedly, but he is the only consultant I would trust to find me a new role that I actually wanted! Tim has a great way of maintaining enthusiasm, giving constructive feedback – even if it isn't the news you want to hear. I would strongly recommend him to anyone in recruitment, especially those looking to boost their career.”

Futura candidate