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How to Resign Early from Your Year-Of-Service Program

A letter of resignation with a red pencil on it.

A reader writes:

Due to some personal and family matters I need to leave my service year early. I do not want to leave on bad terms and I also do not wish to burn bridges because this job is my first full time job after leaving college. I am not simply leaving because of stress or work overload. I don’t have the support at the present time to balance the demands of my job as well as deal with things that I can no longer avoid. How do I quit without it damaging my career choices in the near future?

It’s clear that there is a lot going on in your life, but before deciding to quit, explore the possibility of a new working arrangement. Sometimes organizations have more flexibility than employees realize; could there be a way for your current employer to work with you while you manage the challenges you’re facing outside of work? At the very least, if you enjoy the work you are doing, you should give your employer the opportunity to try and make something work.

If you’ve done that and still arrive at the conclusion that you really do need to leave, follow these basic tips to ensure you maintain a positive relationship with the organization:

Give as much notice as possible. Your coworkers, not your manager, will likely be asked to pick up the extra work you leave behind. Be sure to wrap up any projects you were working on to the best of your ability and create a roadmap for anyone who is going to have to jump in in the middle of an assignment you were working on.

Leave on a positive note. Be sure to thank those who you worked with. Give your direct supervisor the courtesy of hearing the news first. Stay 100% checked in to your work as long as you are there. Offer to be accessible for questions that might come up about work you were assigned once you’ve left.

Put it in writing. This isn’t “required” but it is a nice courtesy you can extend to your employer. No need to write a dissertation. Something professional and concise will suffice.

Let us know how it goes.

Have a question? Send it to us and we’ll answer it here on the blog.

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About the Author | Qiana Williams is a senior human resources manager for a global retailer where she is responsible for all aspects of the implementation of HR strategy for more than 200 employees domestically and internationally. Prior to this role, she navigated the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, tackling the various aspects of HR. Qiana has played an active role in her community through board service with organizations such as City Year – Columbus, Communities in Schools of Central Ohio, HandsOn Central Ohio and the United Way of Central Ohio.

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