A Guide to Resigning: How to Quit Your Job

Are you currently agonising over the discomforts of quitting your job, such as handing in your notice? What if they take it personally? Do you have to write a resignation letter? What happens if they try and make you leave early? Should you give an honest reason for your decision to leave? In short, how do you quit your job without ruffling any feathers?

Leonid Group answers all of the frequently asked questions asked by candidates when it comes to handing in their notice.

Should you wait until you’ve been given a new contract before handing in your notice?

Absolutely. It’s very rare, but occasionally things don’t go according to plan. Always ensure you’re looking after yourself first.

How should you open the conversation with your manager?

When it really isn’t possible to speak in person, try a conversation on the phone or a video call. If you work in the same office, we would advise you to sit down together for a face-to-face conversation. If you’re stuck on how to start the conversation, here’s an example script of what you could say;

“I’ve really enjoyed my time working here at [insert employer name] and have learned a lot. But I was recently offered a fantastic opportunity by another employer that I couldn’t pass up. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that it’s the right way for me to go and so I’d like to take this opportunity to give you a heads up that I will be emailing you my letter of resignation after this conversation.”

If you can’t credibly state that you’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from your employer, feel free to leave that bit out! 

What if getting face-time with your manager is tricky?

It might be that your boss is quite difficult to pin down, which can be a problem when you need to hand in your notice as soon as possible. 

Don’t hold off asking them for a meeting as you could delay your start date with your new employer. Instead, leave a voicemail or send an email requesting a one-to-one catch up. Yes, they’ll probably be intrigued and they may even suspect what you’re about to do, but that’s okay. It’s part of the employee life cycle and a good manager will understand that.

Do you really need to write a letter of resignation?

Not all companies require something so formal – an email might do. To be safe, we’d suggest having one ready in a word document anyway.

Your letter of resignation should be succinct. There’s no need to list the reasons for why you have decided to leave or where you will be moving to. A few sentences will suffice. Here’s a format you could follow;

“Please accept this letter as a notification that I am formally resigning from [insert your job title] at [employer name]. To honour my notice period of [insert required notice period], my last day in the office will be [insert date.]”

It’s a good idea to thank your employer next and offer your support in the transition period of finding your replacement. Remember, you may want to ask these people for a reference later down the line so leave things on a good note.

When should you tell your colleagues?

We’d encourage you to tell your manager first before co-workers. Otherwise, it can seem a little gossipy. During your one-to-one, it’s worth asking your manager how she’d like to proceed with letting the team know. Sending out an email is usually the way to announce news such as this, but it’s okay to speak to close colleagues in person too. 

How honest should you be?

It can be tempting to offer your employer or manager some “constructive feedback” when handing in your notice. Maybe you hated the culture or felt you were treated unfairly. These reasons may be true, but you risk burning bridges that could be valuable in the future. It’s okay to run through some difficulties you had while working there, but try to have these conversations with a member of HR during an exit interview.

What if they take you leaving personally?

We encourage you to have a shift in mindset. Think of yourself as a business – one in which you are the Owner and Director. You provide a service to your employer for a fee. In turn, your employer rents your service out to customers for a profit. While we all like to feel we’re irreplaceable, life goes on and your employer will find someone to take over your “business.” 

Even if your manager is disappointed at first, it’s only because they valued you as an employee but they’ll soon come to realise that life goes on!

What if your boss really does take your resignation to heart?

For the record, your boss is being absurd. The occasional resignation is inevitable; it’s perfectly normal for people to move on from jobs and it’s something they need to learn to manage better. If this does happen to you, keep your head high and remain professional. Focus on the tasks that still require your attention and ensuring your handover is as useful as possible. You’ll be out the door in no time. If they’re unbearably hostile, have a conversation with HR or speak to your manager directly about how you can improve the situation.

Can they make you leave sooner than your notice period?

Yes, an employer might ask you to leave earlier for a whole variety of reasons. However, unless you specifically offer to leave early without pay, they’re still legally required to pay you until the end of your notice period.

How should you respond to a counteroffer?

From our experience, those who take a counteroffer tend to leave within 6-8 months anyway. Remember the reasons that made you begin your job hunt in the first place and ask why it has taken your employer until this moment (when you are preparing to leave) before they’ve offered you what you’re worth. 

This decision, however, ultimately lies with you. What feels right? We’d always suggest that you prepare for the possibility of a counteroffer before speaking to your manager. That way, you’re better able to act on logic rather than emotion.

Do you need an ally in your job search? Leonid Group specialises in securing unparalleled job opportunities for candidates in a range of Europe’s fastest-growing employers. To get advice on your job hunt, speak to a consultant today at +44 (0)20 3958 7484 or email hello@leonidgroup.com.

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