Resignations can be difficult…

As the job market continues to heat up at the executive level, you may find yourself accepting a new job assignment.  First step after saying “Yes” to your new employer is to say “No” to your current employer…never an easy assignment.  How should you handle your own resignation?

As resignations can be difficult, and we resist the urge to “freeze up,” I’ve invented the THAWS formula to keep you loose and successful during this stressful event:

  • Timing.
  • Helpful.
  • Attitude.
  • Written letter.
  • Stay True.


First, be conscious of your timing.  Ask your boss for a moment of their time when they are less stressed, rushed, or worried.  This doesn’t mean wait for the perfect time, as that never comes.  In fact, when they are a little busy or preoccupied, but not overly stressed, is advantageous to you. Don’t give them too much time to try to think up good arguments against your resignation.  Get right to the point, and let them know within the first 30 seconds the reason for your meeting with them…your resignation.


Think about how they will take your news, and what pressures your resignation will put on your boss and your organization.  How can assist the transition process?  Keep a positive relationship by being helpful, thoughtful, and professional.   Don’t burn your bridges.  Can you offer to give them more than the standard two-week’s notice?  Can you work with others to divvy up your work load?  Or cross-train?  Consult at nights or weekends during a transition period? Finish up a unique project under your management?  Help with finding your successor?   Be helpful, while still being true to your objective which is to transition to a new chapter in your career.


Be clear, confident, and purposeful.   Be upbeat, appreciative, and committed to your new opportunity.  Thank your boss and the organization for the opportunities and support given to you during your time here.  Remind them of why this is a great place to work…this has a few benefits.  One, you take away their argument by making it for them, showing you have already considered this in your decision making process.  Two, you prove yourself helpful in the succession process, as you can communicate the opportunity to your successor candidates.  Lastly, you maintain trust with them, as they see that you still believe in the organization and their leadership.  This may prove helpful if you have to ask for favors on the way out, such as reducing your “non-compete” period, obtain early vesting of benefits, or letting you take things with you with their approval.


Provide a written letter of resignation.  This act of putting your decision to paper signifies that you gave this enough thought, are serious and committed, and discourages the usual reaction to an unwanted resignation: trying to change your mind.


Reject the urge to accept a buyback from your current employer, and stay true to your well-thought out decision.  As your boss goes through the stages of grief identified by Kubler-Ross (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) and before he/she enters the phase of exploration, you will have to bolster yourself and stay true to your career decision and rebuffing each of their emotional outreaches.  Research shows that aborted resignations often result in a later less fortunate departure: yours.

Here is an example of a Resignation Letter that I wrote for one of my candidates who was resigning to take a CEO post:





City, State Zip

Dear Boss:

It is with considerable regret that I must inform you, I have accepted a career opportunity I cannot turn down.   I am convinced that this is the right decision for my future.  This move will provide me with the career, personal lifestyle, and work duties that I really want and need.  Though this opportunity found me, it couldn’t be better for me.

Thank you, BOSS.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you and our professional team at xxxxxxxxxxxxx.  Though this is a two-week notice of departure, please note that I have negotiated a start date allowing me to continue to work with you full or part time for the next 3-4 weeks, if you choose to accept this delayed departure to facilitate the transition of my workload.

Thank you for all the support you have given me during my time at xxxxxxxxxxxxx.   BOSS, I look forward to staying in communication with you both personally and professionally, and being a supportive alumnus of this organization.

With kind regards,

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