So, you’ve made the decision to leave your current role in favour of bigger and better things – now you’ve got the awkward task of handing in your notice. As tempting as it might be to just notify your employer by carrier pigeon, or by simply leaving an “I quit” post-it on your desk one evening – there’s an art to quitting your job the right way and no, there’s no avoiding that dreaded conversation.
After all, leaving in a blaze of glory after letting them know all the reasons they weren’t able to retain you isn’t going to do you any favours when it comes to requesting references is it? Plus people talk, particularly in niche industries, so damage to your personal brand and reputation is a very real consequence of not leaving under amicable circumstances.
Letting your employer know that you want to leave your job is never an enjoyable task, but being armed with a solid exit strategy can make things a whole lot easier. Here are our tried and tested tips for how to hand in your notice in the least disruptive way possible.
You may already have your mind made up and have a shiny new job in the pipeline, or you might just be reading this and fantasizing about leaving a job you dislike. If you’re in the latter camp, it’s really important to ask yourself if you’re really serious about leaving. You might feel like you’ve just had it with your current employer, but these decisions shouldn’t be made while you’re angry or upset. If an incident has made you want to quit your job, give yourself a little breathing room before making any big decisions.
We would almost always advise securing yourself another job before handing in your notice, so if you’re not quite there yet you should browse some open vacancies or speak to a recruiter and see what’s out there to avoid putting yourself in any sort of financial hardship.
This is possibly the most crucial step in the resignation process, so we really want to nail this letter. The most important thing to remember is to stay professional, be clear and succinct about your reasons for leaving – this is a formal letter that will be kept for HR purposes so this isn’t the time and place for war and peace on your personal niggles about the company. You can be more detailed during your meeting if you feel like it would be constructive.
Keep your letter short and to the point but still friendly in tone, it helps to sign off wishing everyone the best or briefly stating the things you enjoyed about your time there. Generally, we’ve found that being as polite as possible really takes the sting out of what could be quite an unpleasant experience for your manager.
We wouldn’t recommend just sending your beautifully written resignation letter without a face to face conversation attached, it doesn’t really send the right message and can seem dismissive. Always book in a meeting with your manager so you can soften the blow in person and give them the opportunity to ask any questions they might have.
It’s never nice to be blindsided by bad news, so be sure to have thought about a handover plan before you have your meeting – this should serve as a bit of a distraction from the awkwardness of the situation and give you both a focus. Even though it’s not the nicest conversation to have, try not to rush it. You want to ensure everyone gets all the answers they need then and there because, depending on whether or not you take garden leave, you might not get much of an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation again.
If your decision to leave was financially motivated, or perhaps down to a lack of progression, your employer might try to win you back by offering you more money or a fancy new title. Obviously you should take the time to think about this long and hard, but a word to the wise: counter-offers rarely work out and you should take them with a pinch of salt.
It’s worth asking yourself whether money can really fix the other things that weren’t right about your old job, and it also begs the question of why your needs weren’t being met before you handed in your notice. Find out more about counter-offers and how to handle them.
As excited as you might be to start at your new job, you’ve still got a duty to your current employer to tie up any projects to the best of your ability before you leave. As much as they might not have appreciated you during your time there, losing an employee is a stressful for any business so be courteous and try to make it as pain-free as possible in your notice period.
It’s also still important for the lasting impression your employer has of you to be a good one. It’s only a matter of time before someone who knows someone else asks about your performance and demeanour at work, and if there’s a dramatic story to be told – you don’t want your future career prospects to be affected.
So there you have it, your ideal clean and ultra-professional exit strategy for handing in your notice. Follow our top tips and you can look forward to a quick and painless transition from your old role to the job of your dreams in no time – and if you’re lucky, you may even get to take garden leave instead of working your notice! All the more time to prepare for your first day at your new job.