A guide to handing in your notice
June 14, 2022
Handing in your notice is no easy feat.
Before you ride off into the sunset with your sparkly new dream job waiting on the horizon, you are obligated to bid adieu to your current employer, informing them of your decision to pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
The prospect of handing in your notice may, for some, elicit euphoric excitement. Perhaps you’ve been waiting for this moment, like a child counting down the days until Christmas. If you’ve been particularly unhappy in your role for a while, it may seem like this is the opportunity for you to express your grievances and air your frustrations, before dropping the mic and strutting out of your workplace in slow motion like a scene in a Hollywood movie.
Or perhaps you’re totally and utterly dreading it. If you’ve had a positive experience at your current place of employment, it can be difficult to break the news to your team. Preparing to hand in your notice feels like gearing up to break up with a long-term partner.
Either way, whether you love or loathe your current station, it’s important that you approach your resignation tactfully. Even if you despise your boss, avoid causing a scene when you hand in your notice. Handle the situation respectfully, so that you don’t run the risk of burning any bridges.
And if you’re avoiding that uncomfortable conversation with your boss like the plague because it feels like a personal betrayal, don’t fret. There are ways to make the process as painless as possible, but like a plaster that needs to be ripped off, you just need to get it over with. You can’t avoid it forever.
Handing in your notice is uncomfortable but unavoidable. It’s wise to go into that meeting armed with some best practices to ease you in.
Timing is paramount
You need to choose the optimal time to hand in your notice – timing is key. Don’t make the mistake of letting your boss know first thing on Monday morning; this will set the tone for the week, and may cause an awkward atmosphere to set in. Prime time to schedule a meeting is at the end of the day, when most people have dispersed from the office and your boss is most likely free to have a chat, as they have no other meetings arranged for the day. Doing it on a Friday gives your employer time to process your news, as the weekend serves as a cooling-off period.
Obvious as it may sound, you also need to be tactical about who you hand in your notice to. If you work at a larger corporate company, you most likely answer to a line manager who could be the first point of call when it comes to resigning, or else you may need to report directly to an HR department. At smaller businesses, you most likely will be breaking the news to the director.
Crucially, make sure you carve out a meeting with the person you report to, and avoid telling your co-workers about your plans to leave before you’ve had that all-important conversation with your employer. The last thing you want is for the news of your departure to be spreading like wildfire, the talk of the town that becomes an office game of Chinese whispers. Your boss may find out from them before they have the chance to hear it from you.
Stick to your guns
When you walk into your employer’s office, you may be feeling unsure of yourself, and anxious about the uncomfortable conversation that awaits. However, it’s important to give yourself a little pep talk as you brace yourself for this moment, and don’t let yourself be swayed by anything your boss may throw your way. Make sure that your reasons for leaving are cemented in your mind so that you won’t fold under the pressure if your boss presents you with a counter-offer. You had strong enough convictions to pursue other opportunities in the first place, so don’t lose sight of these now.
Make sure you have a pre-prepared set of reasons for leaving that you can tell your boss. But talk in terms of why the opportunity you’re leaving for is one you cannot refuse, rather than mentioning the pitfalls of your current role. You don’t want to leave the door open to negotiation, or give your boss the chance to present you with a counter-offer that seems to resolve everything. You need to make a mental note of some solid reasons for leaving that you cannot get at your current employer, so that they can’t tempt you by dangling a counter-offer in front of you.
Stick to your guns. You can’t let yourself be clouded by a sense of loyalty. Handing in your notice can be an incredibly difficult thing to do as it’s hard to separate emotion from this albeit professional decision, especially if you have a strong working relationship with your employer. But ultimately, you need to put yourself first.
Don’t bare all
If you’ve had a bad experience working at your current company, it’s best to steer clear of airing your grievances in any great detail to your boss. Keep the conversation professional; divulging all could burn bridges which you may come to regret in the future. It’s important to strike the right balance between remaining firm and standing by your convictions as well as staying polite and respectful.
And when it comes to writing a resignation letter, the same rules apply. Keep things short and sweet, and relatively vague. Your letter should reference your current role, and should include your notice period and the last day you will be working. No more, no less. You don’t need to compose a rambling soliloquy documenting all the negative experiences you’ve had working there. Less is more.
A safety net to fall back on
It’s advisable that you have a new job lined up before resigning from your current place of employment. Not only is this a practical safety net for you to fall back on once your employment is terminated, it’s also a light at the end of the tunnel that is something to look forward to, and can make the process of handing in your notice a little less daunting. Handing in your notice isn’t much fun; it’s a stumbling block that arises on the racetrack in front of you, but if you can see your dream job opportunity waiting at the finish line, it doesn’t seem as insurmountable as it otherwise would.
Having a new job waiting in the wings ensures a cushiony, soft landing once you’ve resigned from your current role. You don’t want a vacuum on your CV to appear when you leave your current job. Be sure that the offer you’ve received is set in stone; ask for the offer to be made in writing so that there’s no chance that it falls through last minute. It’s also crucial that your new employer is aware of your notice period so that you can set up a start date that works best for you.
Quitting your job doesn’t have to be an awkward and unpleasant experience. By following these best practices, you’ll be making the transition from one job to another as seamless and painless as possible.