Keeping your Bridges Intact

Rookie mistakes that employees make when they resign

We have all been there at one stage in our career where we must face the daunting task of resigning from our job. If you have not been there yet, at some point in your career you probably will be. You might be resigning because you absolutely hate where you work, or you might have received an opportunity elsewhere that you cannot resist or perhaps you have decided to emigrate; whatever the reason is that made you decide to leave your employment, a resignation is always a tricky and awkward subject. Some might say that there is an art to the resignation process but that is equivalent to saying that there is an art to a breakup. You will never know exactly how the resignation will go but there are a few things that can be done to make your exit a little bit easier on all involved.

Mistake 1: Being indecisive

One of the main reasons people resign is because they do not feel valued at their place of employment. This then causes people to use resignation to force an employer’s hand to give them a higher package or more benefits in order to try and keep the employee. If this is a tactic you are thinking about using, I would highly recommend not doing this. When you resign your mind should be made up and it should be because are ready for that next step in your life. If you choose to use resignation as a scare tactic, not only is there a chance that it might back fire on you but if an employer does decide to give you that counter offer they could easily see it as a grudge purchase and a few months down the line you are in a position where you are earning more money but you are feeling even more miserable than your were before.

Mistake 2: Telling your co-workers first

Taking the next step in your career can be exciting and its hard to keep good news to yourself especially when you have developed good friendships with colleagues, but it is always best to speak to your managers about your resignation first!

By telling your managers about your resignation first it allows them the opportunity to decide how they are planning to tell the rest of your colleagues as well as what will be done regarding the handover. Remember that your colleagues, though you might have built a genuine friendship together, are really work colleagues and you should protect your interests as well as your company image.

Mistake 3: Giving short notice

Once you have decided to make the move, I realise that it is hard and frustrating to contain your excitement and not get in your car and go to the new job immediately but try and remember the important words – patience is a virtue. In South Africa the average notice period is either 1 calendar month or 4 weeks. Use this time to help train up who ever is taking over your account or role and ensure that there is a smooth handover process. This will also help gain the respect of your employer. You have their names on your CV as references – ensure that you leave on good terms!

Mistake 4: Bragging about your new employment

Colleagues might ask about the new job, whether it is out of politeness or nosiness the question will come up. Make sure you don’t brag about the new position for 2 main reasons. One reason is that you don’t want to demotivate your colleagues about their current workspace and other is to avoid sounding like you are criticising your current employer.  You have 4 weeks still to be there – make the best of them or you will become resentful and it will not be an enjoyable time at all.

There are some things that you could do when you are about to resign which can try to make the resignation process easier and less stressful for all involved.

Tip 1: Prepare ahead of time

Although we expect that we will be part of the handover process, depending on your position, you might find yourself in the position where they ask you to leave immediately. For this reason, before you resign, make sure that you have deleted all your personal details off your computer and ensure that you have the contact details of all the colleagues you still want to stay in touch with.

Tip 2: Resign in person

The law in South Africa requires you to hand in a written resignation to the company to keep on file but it is advisable for you to have a short positive conversation with your manager to inform them of your decision to resign. This conversation does not need to be long and you do not need to tell them where you are going or even why you have decided to leave it just shows integrity and respect when you resign in person.

An example of what you could say in your conversation with your manager is “I have called this meeting today to say thank you for everything you have taught me in my time with the company. As tough a decision as this has been, I have decided it is time to take the next step in my life and therefore I am resigning.”   At this point your manager might ask for reasons why your have made the decision, take this opportunity to thank them again and explain in short, your reason. Keep the conversation positive and honest. There is no need to deceive your manager and if you are going to a company that is in competition with them, it is your choice as to whether you feel comfortable sharing that key information with them but you also are under no obligation to tell them where you are going.

Tip #3: Get all the information you need from the company and ask them to be a reference

Admin is always a hassle but rather get everything when you leave rather than having to go back and forth to your previous employer to get certain documents that you might need for various reasons. Some documents to ask your employer for is your IRP5, what are your remaining leave days and a letter of service. Also ask them if they will be willing to give you a reference should your new employer need it, or should you require it in the future.

Tip 4: Help with the handover

If you are given the opportunity to work your notice period. Take the time to work closely with whomever will be taking over from you and help ensure that they have everything they need when you are no longer there. Not only is this a very professional way to exit the company but it will also depict your integrity and strength of character.


Sometimes a resignation is smooth and sometimes a resignation can be a bit rocky, but it is never easy or pleasant as we always develop some sort of relationship with managers and co-workers even if it is a bad one. The most important thing to keep in mind during the resignation process is that this is not a personal matter but rather a professional one and that your reasons are that you are leaving to improve yourself and your career. Remember your network is your nett worth and you want to end the relationship on a positive note.

Giselle Rentsch is a Recruitment Expert at HR Company Solutions.

By |2019-11-01T09:59:13+02:00Nov 1st, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

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