Just like any other business meeting, your resignation from your company should be treated as a formal occasion. It is not to be done via phone or email (if it can be avoided) and should instead be done face-to-face.

In Japan, most employers require that you hand in a formal resignation notice if you intend to leave your job. It’s also a matter of respect: handing in your resignation to your boss formally is the polite, considerate thing to do.

Your intention throughout this process - other than to simply quit - should be to resign with as little impact on your colleagues as possible, as well as to leave behind a good reputation. Regardless of how casual your company may be, particularly if it’s a more international company, it’s better to treat your resignation as a formal occasion.

What to do before you resign

There are some important things to consider before you hand in your resignation:

  • How much notice does your company policy outline?
  • Are there any big deadlines or events coming up?
  • How do you feel your boss will handle the news?

These will dictate the timing of your resignation.

Generally, you are required to give at least two weeks notice, though it depends on the work contract you have signed. If you are unsure, it is best to familiarise yourself with the contract you signed, and seek legal guidance if it is not clear.

You will also want to carefully consider your boss and your colleagues. For example, announcing your resignation just before a big deadline or event may create a bigger burden on your team, and in this case, it would be better to wait until the office is less busy and stressed.

Similarly, considering how well your boss will handle your news will also influence your planning. If you feel they will take your news poorly and personally, it might be a good idea to plan the meeting for the last day of their working week in order to give them time away from the office to process the news.

Once you’ve arranged a private meeting with your boss, there are a few details you will want to confirm. Use this discussion as the chance to clarify your company’s resignation policy, whether they have a resignation letter template, and if not, what you should include in it.

You should also confirm what will be your final day on the job. You will need this date to write your resignation letter. It is customary to provide at least one month’s notice, and this should provide enough time to organise handover meetings, wrap up any projects you have, and perhaps even help find and train your replacement.

How to formally hand in your resignation

If you can, your resignation letter should be handwritten, though if you have poor penmanship, it would be better to type it up. It should be folded neatly into a plain white envelope.

Organise a private meeting with your boss at their convenience, but with enough time to provide a reasonable notice period. You should present this letter to them with both hands. Thank them for the opportunity to work there if they hired you, and for their support and guidance if they did not.

This is also a good time to confirm the more logistical details of your departure: who will take over your tasks, when you should organise handover meetings with your colleagues and clients, when you should announce your resignation (if at all), as well as any other relevant details; for example, if you work in a creative industry, you may want to take samples for your portfolio.

If you want to present your boss with a farewell gift, now is a good time to do so, especially if you have a different gift for your colleagues.

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