Exit Etiquette: How to Resign from Your Job

Before you say, I quit," make sure it's for the right reasons.

Resigning from your job can be bittersweet, emotional, and even scary as you make the transition to the next phase of your life, whether it’s a new position, family obligations, or retirement.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average individual changes jobs 11 times over the course of their career, and pharmacists are no exception.

Before you say, “I quit,” make sure it’s for the right reasons. Think about what motivated you to accept your current position in the first place and what you plan to gain by moving on. It’s foolish to quit a job on an impulse.

Create a scoreboard of what’s positive and negative about your current position. Before you quit, consider ways you can work with your boss or co-workers to remedy what bothers you, whether it’s a lack of advancement, poor relationships, work overload, or other job-related frustrations. Having a well-founded basis for your resignation will allow you to leave with more confidence and assurance in your decision.

Although you may have fantasized about a dramatic exit, how you make your departure from your current position involves etiquette. Here are some important steps to make your transition a memorable one that doesn’t burn any bridges.

Make sure your future plans are solid.

If you’re taking another position, never resign until you have something in writing from your new employer. Salary, start date, work schedule, and benefit package information should all be laid out for you. Likewise, if you’re leaving for a family obligation, relocation, retirement, or a career change, chart out steps to make a smooth transition.

Have a face-to-face meeting with your boss.

No matter what your relationship is with your boss, schedule a meeting to let him or her know you’re resigning. You don’t have to go into the personal details of your resignation if you so choose, but establish an exit timeframe, including when your letter of resignation can be expected, whether there will be an exit interview, and what you can do to make the transition positive for the pharmacy staff. Remember, your boss may now be your newest reference.

If your manager is located elsewhere, arrange to have a phone conversation. Avoid sending an e-mail with your news. Set up a time for your phone meeting and do it privately, perhaps on your day off or before or after your shift.

Finally, share your news with your boss before your co-workers. This demonstrates your professionalism and respect for his or her rank.

Write and submit your letter of resignation.

First, check your employee handbook for any details or policies related to resigning, such as the number of weeks’ notice. Consider offering to stay on until another pharmacist is hired or your responsibilities have been absorbed by other staff members.

Give or send a copy of your letter to your manager, human resources director, and other appropriate management. Date the letter and state when you’re leaving. Don’t feel obligated to explain your exit, but you can certainly include positive highlights of your career, such as past training and accomplishments. Wait to hear back from management before sending an e-mail or verbally sharing the news with colleagues.

Don’t be remembered as a slacker.

Once your new plans are firmed up, don’t take longer lunch breaks, do less work, or just plain goof off. Stay on course until the last day. Remember, last impressions are lasting impressions and can trump all the good you did while you were on the job.

Share any information or special skillset with your colleagues to make the transition easier on them. Let others know you’ll be available to answer any questions that may come up after you leave.

Stay connected.

Leaving your day-to-day working relationships with fellow pharmacists, assistants, and supervisors can be emotional. Some of your co-workers will be very happy for you, while others won’t.

Be conscious of the different responses and give everyone time to deal with your resignation. Avoid negative comments so you don’t depict yourself as an unhappy or angry employee.

Before you last day, express appreciation to your co-workers through personal notes, handshakes, or hugs. Or, offer to write a letter of support for that special co-worker who will be seeking employment opportunities in the future.

Keep in touch with your colleagues via phone, social media, or e-mail, and be sure to exchange new contact information. They’re now a part of your network, and you never know when you may find yourself working with them again in a different setting.