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How to Resign from Your Job Professionally without Burning Bridges

Quitting your job can be stressful, especially if you’ve been working for your employer for a long time. How do you break the news to your current employer? What do you say? How can you stay professional yet assertive?

Unfortunately, this is the other side of building your career as an architect. If you want your professional career to grow and you’re serious about fulfilling your potential, there’s no way around it. You need to learn how to resign from your job gracefully.

Here are some tips that will ensure that you stay professional and don’t burn any bridges, even if the circumstances are difficult.

Step 1. Get clear on your values

Giving your resignation isn’t an easy thing to do because your employer is likely to be disappointed, confused or even angry when they hear that you want to leave the company. They might also offer you a salary increase, a promotion or more benefits in an attempt to persuade you to stay. (More on this later!)

This often isn’t easy, and you may find yourself unwittingly accepting an offer that you later regret. To help ensure that you always put your best interests first, you should get clear on your reasons for wanting to leave before you break the news.

  • Why did you want to leave your current employers?

  • What attracts you to the new position?

  • What are your professional and personal goals for the future?

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years if you stay in your current employment?

  • What about if you leave?

By getting clear on your answers to these questions, you’ll ensure that you’re leaving for yourself. This will help you stay confident during this often tricky process.

2. Draft your resignation letter

Most employers require you to hand in a written notice of your resignation. This should be your next step.

Start by getting clear on what you are going to say, then create a professional and friendly letter. Even if you hated your job and you felt like you were mistreated, stay professional and focus on the positives.

Mention that you’d appreciated the opportunity and enjoyed your time at the organisation then explain when you will be leaving this company.

You can tell your employers where you will be working in the future if you choose to, but this isn’t essential. You can simply say that you’re pursuing another opportunity that will benefit your career.

However, if you’re asked directly, it’s always better to be honest. Your employer will find out eventually and it’s better that they hear it from you.

You should also say a few words about what you intend to do before you leave to make sure that there is no unnecessary disruption (aka. ‘a smooth transition’). This will create a professional image and help you get that excellent reference you deserve!

Stuck for ideas? No idea what to include in your resignation letter? Here’s a template:

Resignation letter template

Dear [name],

I’m writing to let you know that I have accepted an offer from another firm and have decided to give you notice of my resignation today.

This decision has nothing to do with the exceptional opportunity you have provided for me here. I appreciate all the support you have given me during my time here.

I’d like to thank you for all you have done for me during my time here at [company]. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the team and being part of your ongoing success.

I wish you and [company] all the best for the future. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can be of assistance in ensuring a smooth transition.

3. Break the news in person

Before you hand in your resignation notice, it’s much better to meet face to face with your boss and tell them you intend to leave.

Although taking this step can feel daunting, it will help you to appear more confident and professional, so it will pay off when it comes to your career in architecture. Be brave, take a deep breath then just do it!

Request an in-person meeting with your boss then explain that you will be leaving. Take your resignation letter with you so you can hand it to them there and then. This should be at least two weeks before your employment is due to end, although it does depend on the terms of your contract if you have one.

4. Always ignore counter offers

If you are a valued employee, your boss will likely offer you a higher salary or promise you a promotion to convince you to stay. Don’t get sucked in! When you’ve worked for a company for a long time or you feel bad about leaving, it’s too easy to accept these offers then end up regretting it in the future.

Most of the time, these promises don’t work out. The company might not be able to offer what you’re looking for, so you could end up frustrated and wishing you’d quit before. You’re almost certain to lose that fantastic opportunity with the new company and they are unlikely to hire you in the future if you let them down in this way.

Stay polite and tell your employers that you do appreciate their kind offer. But remind them that your career is your priority and you want to move forward. Who could argue with that?

Final thoughts

Saying goodbye to your current employer and chasing those new opportunities doesn’t have to be painful. Get clear on your reasons for leaving, draft an outstanding resignation letter then go and tell your boss in person. If they offer you a salary increase or other perks, by all means, consider them. But realise that you could be putting your career and future at risk.


👉Want to build your confidence in English to handle situations just like this? Ask me about my ESL coaching for architects.

👉 Want to know more about resigning from your current employer?

I sat down for a virtual chat with Stephen Drew from the Architecture Social and Ackroyd Lowrie) and Will Ridgway from Macdonald & Company to discuss leaving your current employer on the best of terms. Watch it on YouTube here. or join our free course: Using English to Enhance Your Job Search on the Architecture Social.

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