Resign with dignity
So you've decided to quit your job, but how do you leave in a professional way? We talk you through how to resign, from notice periods to exit interviews.
How much notice do I have to give?
- If you're still on probation, you are likely to be able to terminate the contract with immediate effect.
- Most employers will ask for between two and four week's notice. Check your contract to see what yours is.
- Unless you can get your employer to waive your notice period, you are legally obliged to work it. Doing so with good grace is advised.
- Even if you don't have a written contract, a verbal contract counts in law. You might have agreed to let your boss have a week's notice, or to complete certain jobs. If you don't honour a verbal contract, you're liable to lose out on a last paycheque.
- Do you have a job to go to? If not, remember you won't be able to start claiming JSA immediately unless you can prove you were forced to resign (very difficult to do!)
How to tell your boss you're quitting
- Book a meeting with them someplace private.
- Prepare your opening speech in advance, and practise with a friend.
- Try to anticipate your boss's reaction, and prepare some responses.
- Resist the urge to make your resignation personal, or turn it into a grand gesture. Do say: "I've decided to move on." Don't say: "You've ruined my life!".
- Be positive about your time at work, as you'll need a reference. Thank them for the opportunities they've given you, and if possible mention something specific that you'll miss.
- Stick to your story. Your boss may try to get you to divulge your real reasons for quitting.
Write a formal resignation letter
- Include the date, your name, your boss's name, your notice of termination of employment, when this will be effective from, details of your notice period, and your signature. This is all it needs.
- If they're genuine, include some brief positive comments about your time at the company.
- It's a good idea to say you want to help the handover go smoothly, and that you're keen to finish any outstanding projects.
- Give the letter to your boss, and keep a copy for your records. You can even frame it!
Should I do an exit interview?
- Some employers operate exit interviews as a matter of policy. Others may offer you one for a number of reasons. You are not entitled to an exit interview, but if you have something to say then you might want to ask for one.
- You might want to keep your reasons for leaving to yourself, which you're entitled to do.
- Exit interviews are a forum for you to offer constructive feedback to your employer, so that they can learn from your experience of working for them.
- Some employers take the results of exit interviews very seriously, and change policy on the basis of what is said.
- Resist the if I-ran-the-company approach. If you've only been there six months, now is not the time to get big ideas.
- Prepare your comments in advance, and be specific. If you feel that your employer is doing something wrong, give an example of how you experienced this, and how you feel it could have been done differently. Don't drag others into your complaint, as they have to carry on working once you've left.
- If you feel that your employer is not being receptive to your comments, don't force the issue. What you've said will still go on record.
Working out your notice period
If you find pretending to be busy/nice a bit boring, then you might consider the following:
- Ensure that your salary settlement is agreed.
- Work hard to finish your outstanding projects, and arrange to hand over unfinished work to your colleagues. Put yourself in their shoes, and don't leave any nasty surprises.
- If you've been there long enough, make time to say goodbye individually to your colleagues. They will appreciate the effort, and you might get a better leaving present.
- Organise leaving drinks for the day before you go. This will prevent you from slagging anybody off, because you'll have to show up for work in the morning.
- Get the contact details of anybody you want to keep in touch with, whether for personal reasons or because you might need them in the future. Network, network, network!
- If you've got a great new job to go to, don't boast about it.
- Congratulate yourself on a job well undone. Buy something expensive.
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