How to formally hand in your letter of resignation by hand

No matter how easy your decision to quit your job was, formally handing in your resignation can be difficult, no matter what state you are at in your career.

There are many reasons even the most seasoned business people find it difficult, particularly here in Japan. Even though it’s becoming much more common and acceptable, a lot of the reticence comes from not knowing how your boss and your colleagues will react.

Why you should submit your letter of resignation face-to-face

One way in which you can minimise the risk of alienation is to tell your boss first, and face-to-face. This the polite and respectful thing to do. You should avoid sharing the news with anyone else until your resignation has been formally accepted; even then, you should confirm with your boss that you are able to share the news yourself.

And while it may be perfectly fine to have the initial meeting with your boss to discuss your resignation, and then follow up by email, it’s still a good opportunity to perform one of your lasts acts of respect towards your supervisor. Handing them your resignation letter with both hands and with a simple bow can go a long way in preserving the relationship between you, and that should be something you strive for. After all, you never know when a good word from them will be a boost to your career!

When to organise your resignation meeting

Carefully consider the best time to give your boss the news. There are three different considerations you should have: First, think about your team. If you are about to enter a period with a lot of deadlines, or you are working towards an event, it may be better to wait until this stressful period has passed. This benefits your boss, as well as the wider team you will be leaving behind.

On a more individual level, you may want to think about how busy your boss is. If they have a big presentation coming up, or other deadlines that you don’t share with the rest of the team, you should consider again when the best time will be for them. If you’re unsure how they will respond to the news, you may want to organise your meeting for their last day at work; it will give them time to process the news away from the office.

This initial meeting should be used to gently break the news to your boss, as well as confirm the administrative procedures you will need to follow. Some companies have a resignation letter template. If your company doesn’t, ask what you will need to include in it. Don’t forget to also confirm your final day on the job! You will need to include this in your letter.

How to formally hand in your resignation letter

Once you’ve written your letter, arrange another private meeting with your boss.

During this meeting, take a moment to thank them for their guidance and support, and if they were the one to hire you, thank them also for giving you the professional opportunity.

This doesn’t need to be a long meeting, but you should use the opportunity to organise some final details:

  • Who will take over your tasks,
  • When you should organise handover meetings with your colleagues and clients,
  • Whether you should announce your resignation, or if your boss would prefer to make the announcement themselves,
  • Any other relevant details; for example, if you work in a creative industry, you may want to take samples for your portfolio.

Though an emotional time, keeping calm and remaining professional is an easy way to maintain your good reputation, particularly when handing in your resignation letter to your boss. Treat the occasion respectfully, remain positive, remember to use both hands, and you’ll be remembered fondly.

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