How to Resign for Engineers
by EngineerSalary Staff

If you're handing in your resignation, plan ahead to make it as painless as possible. If you prepare in advance for the day you announce your intentions you will remove most of the stress from the process.

Even though you're looking forward to the new opportunity, one that will enhance your skills, increase your personal worth, and positively impact your career... resigning can still seem difficult, because you do it so infrequently in your career. This is how it is done:

Schedule a meeting with your manager.
It's best to have this meeting at the end of the day. This way, your manager can get used to the idea of your resignation away from the office. Also, it will allow you to leave the building promptly after the meeting.

Open the meeting with the specific reason you are there - and submit your written resignation. Let the letter do the rest. Do not defend your decision to resign. Remember the old adage, "Never complain, never explain."

Tips to prepare for the meeting:

- Explain why you are there – to resign.
No small talk – open with your intention to resign immediately.
- Develop your very brief (<15 sec) opening statement in advance (
not an explanation).
- Anticipate your manager's reaction, and prepare ahead of time for it.
- Do not make your resignation personal (even if it is). Say: "I've made a decision to resign." Don't burn bridges.
- Be positive about your time there. Thank him/her for the opportunities they have given you.
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Don't digress. Your manager may try to push you for specific reasons... and want details about your decision, what is causing you to leave - and how he/she can talk you out of it. Don’t participate in this dialog. Respond with "Please respect my decision."
- If your boss persists (even gets angry, confrontational or feels blind-sided), rise above it. You will win the moral victory if you stay composed. Remember, you don’t need to explain your decision to resign. Remain focused.
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Don't provide details about the offer, such as the identity of the new company, title or compensation. People have a tendency to furnish copious amounts of information that goes strictly one way. Don't do it. Don't be bullied into doing it.

This meeting should not take more than 10 minutes -- and the last nine should focus on distribution of your projects and their status. Keep the conversation directed only toward final tasks and exit preparation.

Don't mess it up by saying the wrong thing. You don't know who your manager knows in the industry. You also don't know how much influence the company has. They only have a need to know you're leaving, and on what date - beyond that it is your personal business.

If you signed a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) or employment agreement when joining the company, acknowledge that you will not violate the terms (if the manager even brings it up). Don't initiate this conversation, but have a response ready if the manager does. If neccessary, confirm that the new employer never asked you about technical projects, methodologies or for product data during the interview. "They were only concerned with how my skills will impact their future direction... we discussed their products." As an engineer or technical manager, you have a significant amount of proprietary information that your current employer wants to keep confidential. Don't give them any cause to believe you violated the NDA.

Resist the urge to explain what a great opportunity it is. He/she really doesn't care... it will just trigger a debate about the wisdom of your decision. A manager's function becomes one of trying to retain you... it is in their own best interest (not yours). Remember, you don't have to justify or defend your decision to leave. He or she doesn’t have a vote.


Offer to begin training a replacement or brief a colleague in the remaining two weeks, and ask what you can do to make the transition as seamless as possible. Don’t take on any new projects (seriously, it happens). Start the separation process the moment you resign.

If the meeting begins to take on a life of its own, and it is headed for a marathon session to argue why you are making a bad or poorly timed decision, excuse yourself. That's why you scheduled 10 minutes at the end of the day. "
I have something planned with my (wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, kids, friends) and need to leave now to be on time." Don't continue the meeting. Stop talking. Exit.

Prior to resigning:

• Remove all personal items from your office and computer.
• Determine your owed salary and benefits, profit sharing, unused vacation, personal days etc.
• Make a plan to keep in touch with a few trusted coworkers. Keep your network strong.
• Prepare to turn over all business documents, software and hardware owned by the company.

Don't get talked into (or shamed into) staying for an extended period of time. Two weeks is the industry norm, and is acceptable. In fact, many employers will ask you to leave immediately (particularly engineers and sales personnel). Be prepared for this contingency, and don't be offended.

Never discuss (or brag about) the details of your new offer/position with coworkers. Everything you say "off the record" to others is going back to management in some form. Keeping this in mind, decide carefully about how much information you want them to have, and go light on details. Be understated.

If someone asks about salary (and they will), explain that the new company has asked you not to discuss compensation... it is their policy.


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