Leaving a job can be one of the most stressful experiences in any person’s professional life. It’s important to make sure that you do it right, and the first step is speaking with your manager before taking any further action.
However, most people often start this process by handing out a resignation letter. This is typically triggered by an event in the workplace and acting on emotions, instead of separating the decision to leave from the action of leaving.
Of course, there are situations where this isn’t applicable. For instance, you work remotely or your work doesn’t involve an “office.” In these cases, you’d often find people sending a text or email, or perhaps even writing down on a tissue paper that they are resigning.
But the idea behind this is the same: don’t do all these things before discussing them with your manager. Here’s why it may not be as effective as you think.
Understand the Main Purpose of a Resignation Letter
A resignation letter is a formal document that states your intention to leave the company. It’s a way for your to give proper notice to your company, ensure they can find a replacement in a reasonable timeframe, and properly turn over any and all work you have going on.
Assuming you’re not leaving an abusive environment, where naturally, this recommendation doesn’t apply, printing out (or emailing or texting you are leaving as your first and primary notice) is pretty ineffective.
True professionals don’t quit. They resign properly.
And resigning properly involves putting yourself in a proper mindset first. That means whether you’re putting up with a difficult situation or you simply feel like it’s time to move on, separating the decision to leave from the action is almost always the best route to take.
Risks of Printing a Resignation Letter Beforehand
The main risk is that if you hand over a resignation letter before having the discussion with your supervisor first, it might be perceived as an ultimatum or even considered rude. There’s also nothing stopping your company from rejecting the letter and firing you immediately instead of letting you resign.
Furthermore, if you have any negotiation points such as severance pay or access to health benefits, you won’t be able to negotiate them before handing over the letter. And if your manager is a reasonable person and offers something in return for your resignation, it could be hard to take back the letter without appearing unprofessional.
Printing Your Resignation Letter Is Inefficient
Imagine this common scenario:
You get in a huge disagreement with your colleagues, you get emotional, head back to your office and print out a resignation letter to serve as your two weeks’ notice. You take this letter to your manager and explain the situation. But since you love your job, respect your boss, and want to leave on good terms, you want to see through the project you’ve been managing for quite a while. During this discussion, you and your manager agreed that you’d stay for 6 more weeks to wrap up the project instead of the initial two weeks. You then have to edit your letter to include these details then print it out again.
In this case, printing the resignation letter was an entirely unnecessary step as it would need to be altered again.
Which brings us to another problem…
Things happen. As you try printing your letter, the network printer could be down. You try to restart your computer then try printing again only to find out that the first print job went through and it’s right there in the printer tray, open for anyone passing by to take a look.
Your manager might see it, or a colleague of yours. This could spread rumors and leave you in an uncomfortable situation. And that’s not considering the possibility of forgetting your letter on top of your desk or while “proofreading” it, someone drops by your cubicle and sees the letter.
At the end of the day, there’s really no point in printing out your resignation letter before speaking with your manager. When you know it’s time to leave, have an honest conversation with your boss and explain that you’re resigning.
Printing out your resignation letter first—without discussing the details with your manager—offers virtually no reward.
Think about it.
What would you gain by handing out a resignation letter to your boss?
Isn’t that the same as giving your boss the middle finger?
So, with high risk and little reward, it just goes to show that printing a resignation letter beforehand isn’t the most efficient thing to do. Speak with your manager first about your resignation to finalize the details before doing anything else.
This will help you leave on good terms and avoid any possible professional repercussions that could arise from prematurely printing out a resignation letter. Remember, true professionals don’t quit—they resign properly.
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