How to resign when you change jobs

Written by April O’ Dempsey – Recruitment Consultant (Legal Support) Brisbane, QLD

People change jobs periodically these days and here are some tips you can do to make sure your resignation goes well:

Make sure you tell your supervisor first and preferably in person, but always follow up with an email. Avoid telling anyone else at the firm as news about resignations travel fast.

Make sure you give your full notice period.  You never know when you will need your supervisor/manager to be a referee for you so always leave a role on a good note.  Also, once you have resigned, make sure you use your remaining time to do the work necessary and to complete all of your tasks.

Always tell the truth as to why are you leaving and be prepared to explain your reasons for leaving.  But make sure you explain the reasons without hurting anyone’s feelings and keep it as positive as possible.  If you cannot think of any honest and positive feedback then focus on your new job and why you have accepted this.

If your employer asks you what salary you were offered, be prepared that he/she may want to match this offer or get you a higher offer.  Keep in mind your reasons for wanting to leave and that a counter offer doesn’t usually work out in the long run.

Overall, once you have resigned, it is best that you stay professional and don’t burn any bridges.



The Internet is full of advice on how to succeed – whole libraries of books have been written giving sage advice on climbing the career ladder, dealing with difficult people, having difficult conversations, how to get that promotion, ask for that pay rise.

There are several things you need to succeed, and none of them require any particular expertise. But if you use them, your expertise will grow, in line with the trust afforded to you. Use the simple gifts you already have, probably instilled in you as a child, by your parents and at school.


Show up

Be on time. Attend firm functions or learning and development activities if you have said you will. Being there, and being seen, is essential. Not turning up when you’ve said you will is just rude.


Manners matter

Manners never go out of style. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are still magic words, especially in the workplace. Acknowledge the help of others, say please when asking for assistance.


Be a scout and be prepared

Never go to a meeting, either with a client or colleague without being prepared – read the file, know what the latest is on the file, and what you think the next steps are. Prepare for presentations by practising your speech. Prepare for the next day the night before. Personal organisation is essential in a business that charges for time.


Accept feedback

Be open to the fact that you can improve and that criticism or constructive feedback is given with the intention of helping you improve your skills. Don’t get defensive. Can you imagine an elite sports person arguing with their coach? No they don’t – they get on with it.


Be curious

Don’t assume you know everything or that when you have mastered one thing you can rest on your laurels. If you have some down time, look at previous files or transactions to see if there is something you can learn. Read a recent case. Offer to write something for a blog, and research the topic.


Go the extra mile

Always be prepared to put in some extra effort or stay back to help others if they need it. This will be noticed and appreciated. Effort is never wasted and always appreciated. Doing a good job is its own reward.


Have a positive attitude

No one wants to be around constantly negative people. It is so draining, and can be contagious. Having a smile rather than a frown when someone comes into the room, will not just make you feel better but also the person in front of you.

A difficult matter can be seen as a challenge rather than a daunting impossibility. Adopting the right attitude, reframing the way you think about those challenges, will set you on the right path to success

What other innate gifts or character traits do you think you can use to your advantage?



It doesn’t seem that long ago that we wrote about 15 things you could do for your career in 2015. Where did that year go? How many of those things did you do?

Rather than add one more thing to your ‘list of things to do’, I decided to dilute this list a little and set out the most important things I think you should do for your career in 2016:zzz resolutions


Look forward to the end of 2016

Imagine yourself in December 2016, looking back on the year that was.   What are some of the words you would like to use to describe what you feel? Proud? Accomplished? Happy? Content?

Here are some words you don’t want to use to describe your year – disappointed, exhausted, sad, angry

So decide now how you want to feel at the end of the year, and remember that feeling. Every career step or decision you take needs to be working towards that feeling, and when you find yourself feeling negative thoughts, remember how you want to be feeling and work out what you need to do to change that situation, or how you can use the negative experience to your advantage.


How to get there

Once you decide how you want to feel at the end of the year, write down three or four significant goals you want to achieve. ‘Achieve’ is the most important word here – these goals must be SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic (or what Resources do you need)
  • Time bound.


Prepare for appraisals/reviews

I believe you need to start preparing for your annual performance review the day after your last one. If you have not already started doing that, start now. Review your last appraisal:

  • Were you happy with the appraisal?
  • Did you act on the feedback you were given?
  • Did you set goals?
  • Did you achieve them?
  • Do you need a new goal?
  • What feedback from clients and supervisors have you received?
  • What major projects have you been involved with?
  • Do you need any stretch assignments?


Keep a ‘little jar of awesome’

A friend told me about this ‘self help’ tool she used and it is such a great idea I decided to try it myself this year! She keeps a jar on her desk and writes a note on a post it or other small piece of notepaper every time something good happens at work – achieving a new goal, getting good feedback from a supervisor or a client, nailing a presentation, learning a new skill, someone expressing gratitude etc.   Write the date down, the event and how it made you feel. At the end of the year you can look back on your ‘little jar of awesome’ and remember the many times you succeeded and felt great at work.

Make 2016 your whole year of awesome!