Cover image for Graceful Resignation

Graceful Resignation

kathryngrayson profile image Kathryn Grayson Nanz ・4 min read

For the last two weeks, I've been in the awkward in-between that inevitably happens after you tell your employer that you're leaving your job.

There seems to be this perception that you wouldn't quit your job unless you absolutely hated it, so it only follows that giving notice should be this big mic drop moment – our chance to finally reenact the Office Space scene where Joanna quits with flair, telling off the boss and yelling "Oh yeah? Well, I QUIT! HA!" But realistically, we don't want to be assholes and we don't want to burn bridges, so most adults won't ever (and shouldn't ever) quit a job that way.

So, for those of you that might be coming up on the end of one opportunity and the beginning of another, here's a list I've been working on over these last two weeks of things you can do to resign your job with grace and make sure your coworkers might actually miss you when you're gone:

1) Document as much as possible and comment your code.

The more you can leave behind in simple, easy-to-read instructions, the easier the acclimation process will be for your replacement. If your company has a TON of abbreviations / acronyms, I've found a glossary to be especially helpful, in addition to the standard process documents, naming conventions, etc.
As for code commenting, yeah, we're supposed to be doing that all the time, but let's be honest, you probably aren't. Go back into the files you neglected and comment them up. Coco Chanel says you should look in the mirror every morning after you get dressed and take one thing off – this is the opposite. When you think you're done, go through again and add one more comment.

2) Organize and clean up your files and workspace.

Similarly to the code, you might have left behind a mess of folders and something named PRC_0045_V8_FINAL_FINAL2_FINALNOREALLY.psd. Someone else is gonna have to get in there and figure out what the heck you were doing, so clean it up. If it's just naturally complex, maybe leave a .txt doc behind. Also, get all your office supplies organized and clean up your desk. Return all your stuff to the supply room – even your beloved red swingline. After you've taken your personal stuff home, wipe down your desk and any drawers. Leave behind those instructional materials in a way that's organized and easy for the next guy to find. And please, take a lysol wipe to your keyboard, ya filthy animal.

3) Actually say goodbye and leave people with a way to contact you.

Don't ghost anyone. Leave your personal email or phone number with people you'd like to actually stay in touch with, as well as people who are picking up your projects after you're gone. You don't have to play consultant forever, but letting people know that you'd be happy to answer any questions for the first week or two is a nice gesture that they'll really appreciate. Say thank you to the people you've worked with closely. Also, everyone will come up to you and ask you the same questions – where is the new job, when is your last day, are you excited, are you nervous, do you have any time off in-between jobs? Resist the urge to get snippy or sarcastic, and answer them honestly – they're just being polite.

4) Forward yourself the important emails.

You probably have a handful of HR related emails you've got saved from when you first started – info about your 401k, for example. Make sure you get copies of everything you need before your account gets closed, or you get locked out. You don't want to have to call your old HR person in a couple months and make them dig up info from a past employee because you don't have the login credentials anymore.

5) Don't tap out early.

You gave them two weeks of work, not one week and then another week of half-assing everything because you've already got one foot out the door and you're mentally checked out.

6) Be honest and make an effort in your exit interview.

Companies hold exit interviews to improve themselves, and it's one of the only times they can really get 100% honest reviews from people who have much less at risk than other employees. Obviously, there's no need to be rude or trash any of your coworkers, but an honest critique is one of the best parting gifts you can give. On the flip side, I've also seen some people who don't care about the exit interview at all, so they say "everything was okay" in response to every question, which isn't helpful either.

7) Actually stay in touch.

This is the hardest but most important step; you never know where your next opportunity will come from. Add some ex-coworkers on your social media platform of choice and make plans to grab lunch or drinks every couple months – that's all it takes to stay on the radar.


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pbeekums profile image
Beekey Cheung

Nicely written! Definitely agree on all the points about keeping in touch. I love that I have a wealth of friends from multiple companies.

I'll add that handing things off effectively is a matter of company culture as much as it is on the developer that's leaving. It's impossible to hand off 2 years of knowledge in 2 weeks. A developer may be able to rattle off all that knowledge, but a developer will not be able to absorb that knowledge in such a short period of time. Comments are great, but can't always provide full understanding of how things work.

There needs to be a culture of team communication. Even without pair programming, which I hate, all systems should have multiple developers working with and understanding everything. Code reviews are a given, but code reviews are useless unless a reviewer actually has a deep understanding of the code being reviewed. Ideally there shouldn't be much of a hand-off because another dev is ready to pick up anything a leaving developer leaves. It's ideal because voluntary exits aren't the only reason a developer leaves a company. My friends and I used to talk about "the truck factor". People get sick. Things happen in personal lives. Sometimes people get hit by trucks. In all those cases, there's no 2 week warning and no opportunity for hand offs.

gregorgonzalez profile image
Gregor Gonzalez

Really nice article. I also thought about leaving with a big scene, making a mess and tell so many things to my boss xD but as you say "you never know where your next opportunity will come from" you should always leave polite, is the best way and they can give you a good reference.

I always comment the code for the next person to continue and is good for yourself too, especially if you work with big systems.

pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani

Brilliantly scribbled Kathryn. Hope it helps me in very near future. 😁😁

It would be Icing on the cake if you also write on how to make up mind to switch job if not happy with the current one.