Ever daydreamed about walking out of work in a blaze of glory?
Telling your boss and colleagues exactly what you think of them, crashing the door shut behind you and/or goodness forbid… creating your very own viral “I QUIT” video?
Don’t do it.
It’s SO important that you end on good terms with your employer – you’ll need them as a future reference and who knows what else?
They could even become a future potential customer or supplier…
Instead, handle things sensitively and professionally, with the following steps.
Step 1: Do you definitely want to leave?
Don’t fall into the trap of quitting in a fit of rage.
Give yourself time and space to consider your options and discuss the situation with friends, family or someone you really trust.
It may be that there are other opportunities within your workplace that you could try and follow, it could be that you realise you won’t always be stuck with that bad colleague.
You just don’t want to end up regretting your decision.
For some more advice on acceptable reasons why you should definitely be thinking about leaving your current job… click here.
If you do make the decision to leave then…
Step 2: Find another job.
In nine situations out of ten, I’d advise people to secure a new job, before leaving an old one.
There are a couple of exceptions:
- If your notice period is something ridiculous like 4 months – and they’re not likely to give you any leeway. It can be pretty difficult to find a new job if they have to wait this long for you.
- Your current job is really, really making you unhappy and therefore, you believe it’s worth the risk. (Perhaps your boss is a bully or your colleagues are picking on you.)
It’s a huge risk to take and, as you’ve probably heard/noticed before, it’s much easier to find a job when you’re already in one (sod’s law).
(For some tips on how to find a job, whilst still employed – easier said than done – click here.)
Step 3: Be careful who you tell.
I know, I probably sound a little bit over-cautious (or paranoid)… but I myself have been approached in the past by a staff member who informed me that their co-worker was planning to quit.
It’s not always done in a selfish way; I’m sure some people think they’re helping by trying to get their friends to stick around – but it’s important to be aware that it happens.
I would highly recommend keeping your decision to yourself until an appropriate time, when you’ve already informed your boss.
You don’t want to create an awkward, negative environment in the office.
Step 4: Write your letter.
NB: do not hand your letter in, until you’ve completed step 4; talking to your Manager.
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to prepare the things you’ll need and write your letter of resignation – so that when the time comes, you can hand it over quickly and efficiently.
Within your letter, you should:
- First, state the obvious; what position you’re leaving, how much notice you’re giving (whatever your contract specifies) and when your last day will be.
- It’s then good practice to thank your employer for the opportunities and learning experiences they have offered to you (yes, even if you’re not remotely grateful).
- Wish the company good luck in the future and state that you’d like to keep in touch (you’re going to need them for your reference, remember…)
I know; if you’ve got a bad relationship with your boss, this may all seem a little false but it is a formality that you should embrace, especially if you don’t want to cause more tension for the future.
If you’d like to see some great examples and swipe some templates – click here.
Step 5: Talk to your Manager one-on-one.
Before handing in your resignation letter, it’s important to get together with your Line Manager and let them know, face-to-face, that you are leaving.
If you just hand them a letter without any explanation it will come across as rude and dismissive.
This will also give you a chance to talk through your reasons (professionally) and remove any tension and awkwardness going forward.
Find a good time (when you’re boss isn’t swamped, in a bad mood or out-of-office), schedule a formal meeting in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and try not to get overly emotional.
Do NOT badmouth the company, your colleagues or your boss – be professional and objective.
At this point, your manager could actually suggest some sort of counter offer…
Step 6: Consider your counter-offer.
If an employer really doesn’t want you to leave, they might offer you a higher salary, more perks or a fresh, new opportunity to get you to stick around.
It is worth considering, especially if you aren’t 100% sure you want to leave anyway.
Recruiter Pro Tip
Consider this: what will things be like for you, if you accept the counter-offer?
What kind of relationship will you have with your employers now that they know you were thinking of leaving? Are they the type of people who’ll hold a grudge?
Of course, not every employer will react badly. It all depends on your individual circumstances and relationship (and how well your one-to-one meeting went)!
Of course, during that one-to-one meeting there are a couple of other things that might happen…
Click here to read more about the consequences of accepting a counter-offer.
Step 7: Be prepared for the worst case scenario.
In most cases, your meeting will go swimmingly; it will end on great terms and you’ll move on, work the rest of your notice and not have an issue.
However, you may also face the following common situations…
- Garden leave. Usually if you’re moving on to a competitor, you may be asked to leave straight away and even be escorted out of the building. It’s therefore important that your things aren’t too hard to get together and that you’ve sent yourself any personal files that might be on your computer.
- An emotional goodbye. If this is a shock to your manager, they may get emotional (angry, frustrated, upset) especially if they have an invested interest in the company. Try to keep your cool, be professional and don’t let them make you feel bad. Everyone has a right to move on.
I’m not trying to scare you – these are simply two of the worst case scenarios.
Step 8: Hand in your notice (letter).
When you’ve ended the conversation and decided you still want to leave, it’s time to hand your official notice in.
During your meeting, you may have discussed shortening your notice period – so don’t forget to change the date and time period on your letter if that’s necessary.
Trauma over! Congratulations.
It can be really scary handing in your notice – and that’s why it’s so important to be prepared. If you handle everything graciously, professionally and sensitively, then you really shouldn’t come across any issues.
And remember, your notice period will absolutely fly by – so even if it is a little awkward at the start – just look for that light at the end of the tunnel!
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