I resigned but now I regret it. What do I do?

Resigning from a job is a big decision which often requires quite a lot of consideration and an element of forward planning. However, sometimes in the heat of the moment, we can make knee-jerk decisions that perhaps under normal circumstances we might not have made. Quitting your job might be one of them.

If you’ve recently resigned but now you’re wishing you hadn’t, these industry experts provide their guidance on what you might want to consider doing next.

  1. Know your legal rights
    Alexandra Rosser, Head of Organisational Psychology Consulting | Stillwell Management Consultants

    A retraction of resignation is possible. However, if you have made a clear oral and/or written statement indicating an unambiguous decision to resign, specified an end date for your employment and begun serving your notice, an employer is legally entitled to reject your retraction.

    Case law indicates the only exception may be if an oral resignation is made “in the heat of the moment”, under duress, or in some other special circumstances; is not followed by any further actions confirming the resignation, and is retracted within a very short time.
  2. Have an open and honest conversation with your employer
    Lisa Morris, Senior Regional Director | Hays

    In general terms, retracting your resignation will require an open and honest conversation with your direct manager and/or HR about how and why your original motivation for wanting to move on has changed.

    It will need to be compelling if they are to accept your retraction, so demonstrate the benefits to the business of you remaining in your role – this becomes even more important if your employer has already started looking for your replacement. Explain clearly how you will add value to the organisation. State that you are motivated to achieve the required results in your current role.

    Expect to be asked questions about your loyalty so have an answer ready, and work hard to rebuild trust. You’ll also need to formally retract your resignation letter in a new letter that briefly explains your decision.
  3. Consider that you might have made the right decision
    Sinead Hourigan, Brisbane Director | Robert Walters

    It’s a very difficult position for someone to find themselves in if they have resigned and they feel like it’s the wrong decision. Before backtracking on the decision, you should definitely stop and think clearly about why you decided to resign in the first place. Sometimes, people get cold feet about moving to a new role and this is very understandable but it shouldn’t be the reason why you decide to stay where you are.

    It can be very helpful to have a conversation with a trusted friend who you know will be honest with you and really work through all of your reasons for resigning. If you definitely feel you have made the wrong decision, you should speak to your direct line manager in the first instance and see what can be done to reverse the decision. It’s not always that easy to unravel a resignation but it is certainly not unheard of.

    If it doesn’t work out and the decision cannot be reversed, best to move on and make the most of the new opportunity, it might just turn out to be the best move you’ve ever made. 

    This article has been adapted from News Corp Australia's Careers publication.