You've got the job, now it's time to hand in your notice. But before you rush to tell your boss, make sure you know how to handle what can be an awkward situation.
It's vital that you consider all the different facets of the process, from the initial conversation and written resignation, through to your notice period and your last day.
As with any difficult situation, it’s always important to approach the subject with the right etiquette.
- Be gracious - tell them how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and that you've learned a lot (if it hasn’t and you haven’t, be gracious anyway)
- Be cooperative - let them know you'll do all you can to make sure the handover is dealt with smoothly
- Don't burn your bridges - make sure the company knows that if the right opportunity comes along, you would always consider working for them again
Put it in writing
Once you've let your boss know verbally, the next step is to put your resignation in writing.
- At the very least, your letter should include the position you're resigning from and the date you intend to leave
- Although not essential, you might want to thank your employer for the opportunities you've been given and offer your willingness to ensure a smooth handover etc
- Whilst constructive criticism is acceptable, don't get personal or you'll risk your reference and your reputation
The counter offer
If you're a loyal employee and you've done a good job, the chances are your boss won't want to see you go. The most likely way an employer will try and make you stay is by offering you a pay rise either equal to or above what you've been offered in your new job.
Make sure you understand the counter offer and avoid making a knee jerk decision. While the promise of promotion, increased responsibility and extra money may sound tempting, will it really make you want to stay for the next few years? Think carefully about what's been offered, but don't forget that you'll be working in the same organisation, with the same people and probably under the same boss.
Don’t be persuaded into staying simply because you’re scared of change. It can be tempting to accept the counter offer because you’re comfortable where you are. But is this a good enough reason for you to stay?
Your notice period
Whatever the length of your notice period, you're legally obliged to work it, unless your employer's willing to waive it. You should find details of your notice period in your contract, otherwise, you should normally allow between two weeks and a month.
When seeing out your notice, make sure you stay alert. Whilst it's easy to imagine your last few weeks as a time to relax and stop making an effort, this is seldom the case. What's more, being seen to make the effort right up until your last day will ensure your reputation as a professional and reliable employee remains intact.
Finally, make sure you allow time to say goodbye to everyone and swap contact details with as many colleagues as you can. Moving jobs is a great way to extend your network and you may find you see some of your colleagues again sooner than you think.
Depending on your role and the sector you work in, you may be asked by your employer to take 'gardening leave'. This is where an employee has to stay away from work during their notice period, preventing them from gathering potentially sensitive commercial information, especially if they're leaving to join a competitor.
Employees on gardening leave continue to receive their normal pay and are covered by other normal contractual obligations until their leave ends.
Last of all, don't feel guilty about resigning. Feel good. Working is a business arrangement and moving jobs is part and parcel of that.
Whilst others may think you're resigning from a perfectly good job, you're the one in control of your career and only you can decide which direction it should take. If resigning from your job will bring you closer to meeting your career goals, it's a step worth taking.
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