How to leave corporate life – and still have a career – Part Two

woman handing in her resignation, resigned, quitting, corporate life

When I reached the point of wanting to resign from my corporate career I was completely torn.

Part of me wanted to throw my laptop across the atrium while shouting “you can stick it!”; the other wanted to compose a neutral, carefully worded letter.

While I think the former would have been extremely cathartic, I went for the latter. This was thanks to a process that I went through that my friends and connections have also found to be useful:

Getting your resignation right

Clearly question your motives

The tipping point for my resignation was a meeting that went from bad to terrible which brought to a head a catalogue of issues that had been brewing for a while. A conversation with occupational health gave me some room to breathe and questions to answer that are useful to consider:

  • Is the issue with an individual and, if so, would working for someone else fix this?
  • Is this a grievance issue that needs formal attention?
  • Is the issue with the requirements of the role?
  • Are there things happening for you externally that your employer could help you with?

Whether you need to begin a grievance process, ask for a move or request time out, being able to clearly articulate what the issue is puts your employer in a stronger position to help and makes you feel better about your decision.

Take your time

Sometimes the realisation we want to leave gradually dawns on us, other times it can be tempting to storm out of the door. The important thing to remember is that as your decision, it’s one you are free to take your time over. Your mind may be made up but unless your manager is telepathic you shouldn’t feel under pressure to act. Do make sure you’re clear on the practicalities of what happens once you resign – will you be expected to hand in your phone and laptop? Are there any terms in your contract that prevent you from contacting colleagues? What happens to share options / holiday entitlement / pensions?

Make a plan

Most of us will have been asked to create a 30-60-90 day plan at some point in our careers – the process of resigning is exactly the same. Making a commitment to yourself on paper is a powerful way of keeping yourself honest – write down what you want to:

  • Do
  • Feel
  • Earn

Get meetings teed up and specifically carve out time for activities. Even if you’re taking a few weeks out to decompress, scheduling in activities or goals will make the transition easier. It is easy to underestimate how significant the change is from having your entire day mapped out to being solely responsible for your own time.

Get someone to hold you accountable

One thing that became immediately apparent to me after exiting corporate life was how much other people have your back. There will be some who are secretly hopeful of following your path and others who you will have unknowingly inspired that are willing you to do well. Alongside writing down your personal commitments, make the effort to find someone you can share these with – preferably someone who will give you a kick up the backside when you need to be helped back on track.

Acknowledge your achievements

Whatever the terms of your resignation, take a moment to look at your contribution to the company and what you were able to achieve. In my case, I had a career that many people would give their right arm for at a highly successful and desirable organisation. While your previous role doesn’t define you, it can form a fantastic platform on which to build the next level of your career.

In my next post I’ll be talking about how what you should know about becoming a freelancer.

About the author

Toni KentToni Kent is an experienced writer and performer who is trusted by large corporate IT organisations to represent their business leaders and brands through a mixture of ghost writing, coaching and motivational speaking.

With twenty years of experience in technology and as an advocate for women supporting women, Toni is frequently booked by Women in Business networks and organisations that want to promote gender parity. With lived experience of how work transforms the life prospects of women from disadvantaged backgrounds, she is proud to be the official event compere for Smart Works Reading – an organisation that helps women return to the workplace via free interview coaching and work-appropriate clothing.

Toni is also a columnist for Berkshire Life and has written three books of humorous reflections on what it means to be a woman: Reasons to be Cheerful Parts One and Two and I Need a Wife. Her books are all available via Amazon.

You can follow Toni on Twitter and LinkedIn at @tonijkent


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