By Mel Sim

The question every boss wants to know when you hand in your resignation letter. Here’s how you answer.

It’s D-Day. The day you walk into your boss’s room, close the door behind you, and hand in your notice. Your boss is taken by surprise and tells you to sit down. And then he says this: “But why do you want to quit? You are doing so well here!”

Ah, that all-dreaded question nobody wants to answer when quitting. Is there ever a nice way to answer this question? No, if you are someone your boss values and also no if the company has just picked up a huge project and it is important to have everyone on deck.

But quit you must, especially if you have a better offer and feel like you need to move on to your next career move! So how do you answer that question? Here are some tips.

#1 Focus on the positive
Even if your reason for leaving is because you don’t like the boss/company/people you work with, don’t tell your boss that! Instead, paint your leaving in a positive light so there’s no way your boss can fault you for it later. Reasons like wanting to learn more, take on more responsibility, a change of environment for more motivation, the yearning to develop a new skill show that you are someone who is proactive in improving yourself. These are all great reasons for quitting – and hard for your boss to hold you back for.

#2 Be open!
If your boss asked if you already have a job lined up, don’t lie and say no. If you already do, tell him! Why? Because sooner or later, he will find out if it is in the same industry… and people talk, like your colleagues who already knows where you’re headed too! Be honest but be brief. Tell him where you are going and when you are expected to start there. Or if you don’t have anything in the pipeline, be honest about that too! Say you have several options where you want to apply for but you are taking a few weeks off to recharge.

#3 Make it S&S
Short and sweet – that’s the way to go with your answer! Don’t go into detail how you’re not happy with your current position or why you think you should be paid more or how the other company has better opportunities for you. State your reason (briefly!) why you are quitting and leave it at that. The ball is now in your boss’s court to do what he wants with that piece of information.

#4 Be clear about what you want
One minute you are telling your boss you want a new skill; the next you are saying you’re not happy with what’s currently happening in your role. Which one is it? Stick to your answer and even if you have 101 reasons why you’re a quitting, zip it.

#5 Be ready to have a counter reply
So you told your boss why you want to quit. Your boss can either 1) offer you the more money you want that you say you are not making or 2) say ok and ask how you plan to utilise your last month at work. If your boss does #1, make sure you already know the answer to that: Are you willing to stay if you are offered more money? And how much more will you stay on for? If your boss says #2, then have a solid plan on when your last day is, what you are currently working on, and how you plan to hand that over either to the person who will take on your position or to your colleagues.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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