Leaving on Good Terms:

How to Resign When Your Manager Is Not Expecting It


Leaving on Good Terms: How to Resign When Your Manager Is Not Expecting It

Handing in your notice, especially when your manager is not expecting it, can be a delicate situation to navigate. The key lies in handling the process professionally and with a degree of empathy, understanding that your departure might come as a surprise to your manager. Here’s how to approach this situation thoughtfully.


Prepare Yourself

Before you approach your manager, be clear about your reasons for leaving. Whether it’s for career advancement, personal reasons, or seeking a new challenge, being sure of your decision helps in conveying it confidently and sincerely. Remember, it’s normal to feel anxious about this conversation, but preparation can ease some of that anxiety.


Choose the Right Time and Place

Timing is crucial. Find a moment when your manager is least likely to be stressed or overwhelmed. Avoid busy periods or right before a significant meeting. Request a private meeting to ensure you have a confidential and uninterrupted space to talk.


Be Direct but Tactful

Start the conversation with a positive note about your experience in the role. Then, be straightforward about your decision. For example:

“I’ve really valued my time here and have learned a great deal. However, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to move on to a new opportunity that aligns more closely with my career goals.”


Be Prepared for a Reaction

Your manager might be surprised, disappointed, or even upset. Be prepared for a range of emotions and try to remain calm and professional throughout. It’s important to listen to their response and acknowledge their feelings.


Offer Support During the Transition

Assure your manager that you intend to make the transition as smooth as possible. Offer to help train a replacement or to document your current projects and processes. This shows that you are responsible and considerate of the team you’re leaving behind.


Stick to Your Decision

Sometimes, your manager might offer a counter-proposal to entice you to stay. If you’re firm in your decision to leave, politely decline. It’s important to stay committed to your choice and express it respectfully.


Submit a Formal Resignation Letter

Following your conversation, submit a formal resignation letter. It’s customary to provide at least the notice period outlined in your contract, typically ranging from one to three months. Your letter doesn’t need to detail your reasons for leaving but should state your intention to resign and your proposed last day of work.


Handle the Exit Interview with Care

If your company conducts an exit interview, use it as an opportunity to provide constructive feedback. However, maintain a positive tone and resist the urge to air any grievances negatively.


Maintain Professional Relationships

Your professional paths may cross again in the future, so it’s important to leave on good terms. Express gratitude for the opportunities you’ve been given and keep the lines of communication open.



Resigning, especially unexpectedly, can be a daunting prospect. But with the right approach, you can ensure that you leave your current role on a positive and professional note. Remember, moving on to new opportunities is a natural part of your career journey. Handling it with grace and professionalism reflects well on you and helps maintain important professional relationships in the long term.


If you’re contemplating a career move and are open to discussing your options or want to get a feel of the market, I’m here for a straightforward, commitment-free chat. Send me an email at slowes@levitaterecruitment.com to arrange a call.

My views are based on my 15 years+ of recruiting for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals.

For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.