How to hand in your resignation

Though traditionally, many Japanese are used to remain in the same company for the duration of their career, it is becoming more acceptable - particularly in international companies - to change jobs in order to advance your career.

If you’ve decided to quit your job, then you’ve probably already thought about the difficult conversation you’ll need to have with your boss. But just like any other challenge, with a bit of preparation beforehand, and maybe even some practice, this conversation doesn’t have to be awkward.

Why you should plan ahead

Planning your resignation ahead of time is important for a number of reasons.

First, it allows you to give an adequate notice period. Here in Japan, depending on the contract you are under, generally you are only required to give two weeks notice. However, it’s customary to provide at least a month, and sometimes more depending on the nature of your work and your company.

Second, it gives you enough time to wrap up any work you have ongoing, as well as prepare a proper handover for the colleagues who will take over your work upon your departure. The more detailed and organised, the better, so tackling this project well ahead of your leaving is essential.

And finally, it gives you time to organise the timeline for your resignation. You may want to plan to see some colleagues in farewell before your last day, or perhaps you are planning on taking a few days off before you begin your new job.

But remember, you must not share this news with anyone other than your boss first. You don’t want them to hear the news from someone else first!

How you should tell your boss

Once you’ve decided how much time you are going to give your boss between your announcement and your final day, you’ll need to organise a time to meet in private.

If you’re unsure how well your news will be received, consider planning this meeting for a Friday afternoon. That way, you’ll both have the weekend to relax before arranging your handover and other administrative details - like the paperwork you’ll need to hand in.

In this meeting, you should make sure you confirm:

  • Your final day on the job
  • What tasks you need to finish, and what tasks you can hand over
  • What the company resignation procedure is, and whether they have a resignation letter template
  • When you should announce your resignation to your colleagues

Remember to keep this conversation professional. You want to leave the company with a good impression, and you want to maintain your good reputation.

If you’re unsure what to say, keep it short and to-the-point. Be respectful and positive. A brief conversation might involve:

  • Thank your boss for the opportunity to learn and work under them.
  • Due to personal reasons, you’ve decided it’s time for you to move on.
  • Ask if the final date you had in mind is okay.
  • Ask about company policy surrounding resignations.
  • Confirm any administrative procedures and paperwork you will been to complete (including your formal resignation letter).
  • Assure your boss that you will complete any work required, and that you are happy to organise a handover, and find and train your replacement, if needed.
  • Thank your boss again for their support while you’ve been working with them, and for their time.

What you shouldn’t say

In maintaining your professionalism, you need to refrain from using this conversation as a chance to complain about any challenges or difficult colleagues you have come across during your time at your company. Even if the reason for your departure is due to negative events, this conversation should be treated like any other business meeting.

Legally, you do not need to share the reasons for your leaving, nor are you obligated to share where you are moving once you leave, however you may find your boss is interested in knowing these things. It may or may not be beneficial to share these details, so consider carefully if you are willing to inform them.

How to hand in your formal resignation letter

Again, just like the meeting your organised with your boss for your initial resignation conversation, you should plan another private meeting. Keep in mind, even if you have a casual relationship with your boss, that this should be treated as a formal occasion. Use both hands when handing them your notice, and remember to thank your boss again for their support.

While resigning from your job, regardless of the reasons, can be an emotional time, remember to remain calm and professional. And if you plan ahead of time, confirm the resignation procedure for your company, and formalise your departure, you’ll leave behind a good impression, enabling you to start your new job stress free.

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