How to go about handing in your notice

By Tom Evans

Here at 360 Resourcing, we’ve talked before about how to choose a career and helped numerous job seekers to find a new position, but all the career planning in the world can still leave you unprepared when it comes to actually resigning from your job.

Of course, thousands of people every year decide that it’s time to move on, whether it is because they hate their job, or have just found one with a better salary or more chances for career progression. So, if it’s time for you to leave, here’s all you need to know about handing in your notice:

Read your contract

Take a look through your employment contract to find any relevant information that may hinder your career development plan, such as the notice period you’ll be expected to work. This can factor into when you want to hand in your notice, such as whether you’ll want to go straight into your new career from your old one, or if you’d like a little time off between jobs. Being familiar with your contract can also help if any dispute arises, so it’s always good to take a look beforehand.

Write a letter

Next, if it’s time to leave, ensure that you resign from your job in writing. Be sure to date your resignation letter and keep a copy for yourself, as well as handing it to your boss in person (no emails!). This is the most professional way to hand in your notice, which will allow you to leave a positive impression and carry on your chosen career path without burning any bridges. After all, you never know who you’ll run back into in the future.

For the letter itself, keep it short and you don’t have to go into a lot of detail if you do not want to. If you want to give a reason for leaving, then stating that the new opportunity will help you with your career development is the way to go. There’s no need to rehash old arguments, especially as you’ll be leaving soon and may need future references. Also, make sure to state your notice period and when you expect your last day will be (this is one of the reasons to date your letter).

Choose the right time

When it comes to handing in your notice, another piece of careers advice is to be sure that you pick the right moment to do so. If your manager is busy, schedule in a time to speak to them. Many people tend to have a sixth sense about these things, so just asking for a meeting may prompt them to do so quickly. You might even be invited to sit down there and then. Whatever happens, don’t ambush your boss in the hallway or when they’re coming out of the toilet!

Once you have your meeting, present the letter and don’t beat around the bush. Inform your manager that you are handing in your resignation and that you will work out the notice period, if requested to do so. If pressed for why you are leaving, as they will likely have some questions, be sure to stay positive and just highlight that it was an opportunity that you couldn’t pass up. Also, be classy and thank your manager for the career help, support, and advice they’ve given you (even if a lack of it is why you’re leaving).

Be prepared

Here’s another bit of career progression advice: your resignation may take an unexpected turn, so be prepared. By that, I mean that a number of things may happen after handing in your notice.

For one, you may be asked to leave immediately (or at least after being escorted to your desk to pick up your personal possessions). This often happens in jobs that handle sensitive data, whether that’s financial or concerning valuable clients. Expect this one if you are leaving to start a new job with a competitor too.

Secondly, you may be offered more money. Perhaps this was your plan all along, although it’s a very risky one! Some employers will view you as valuable enough that they won’t want to lose you, so will throw more benefits and a higher salary your way to make you change your mind. However, when doing some career planning, don’t expect this one to always pay off, so make sure you actually do have another job lined up! It will be up to you then which career path you choose to follow, but remember why you decided to hand in your notice in the first place.

That said, most often your boss will thank you for your time with the company and wish you all the best with your new career. They’re a professional and have likely handled many such resignations before. If this happens, discuss what happens with your notice period. Some will request that you work until the end of the given period, so plan your start date accordingly. Other managers may offer you garden leave, where you technically stay employed by the company until the end of your contract, but don’t have to come into work. Whichever is chosen, it’ll be up to the manager, so best to clarify which they would prefer during the meeting.

To tell or not to tell?

When it comes to telling other employees about your move, you should only do so if your manager is happy for you to. Frankly, your boss should know before the office does, so don’t start gossiping. If you can trust someone to keep a secret and need some careers advice, talking things through with a colleague can help, but make sure that it doesn’t become an open secret before you actually get to handing in your resignation letter.

If you are being kept on to work out your notice period, you’ll likely be working on a handover so that colleagues aren’t left in the lurch when you leave. After all, you want them to remember you fondly, not as someone who skipped out and left them to pick up the mess.

Stay positive

Whether you leave immediately, go on garden leave or work out your notice period, staying positive on your career path is a must (this includes when it comes to what you say on social media). Leave on a good note, thanking your manager and team for all of their help while you’ve been in the job. If you are invited to drinks for your last day, make sure that you don’t get too carried away with all of the festivities!

If you are fondly remembered as a positive, hardworking employee, you never know how it will help you in the future. You may run across colleagues again at other companies, either as managers or in your own team, and they may even have some career development opportunities to offer you! So, whichever direction your new career takes you, handing in your notice professionally is definitely the way to go.

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