Check out our tips for how to resign from your job - from handing in your notice to telling your co-workers.

How to resign from your job

When the time comes, quitting your job can be harder than you think. Check out our top tips on how to resign from your job.

Although you might have been building up to this day for a while, when it finally arrives the nerves can kick in. You might be unsure what to tell your boss or how to break the news to your co-workers. Despite the reasons you have for wanting to leave, you might feel like you’re letting people down.

We take a look at what to consider before you make that leap and how to resign the right way if and when you do.

1. Do it for the right reasons

There’s lots of reasons people make the decision to quit their job. A terrible boss is usually top of the list. But it could be due to poor pay, insufficient training, lack of career prospects or inflexible working hours.

Before deciding it’s time to go, it can be a good idea to speak to your boss first. Don’t point out that you’re ready to leave or issue an ultimatum. Simply enquire about the prospect to make changes at work – whether that be taking on more responsibility or having greater flexibility in your role for example.

Chances are your boss will be completely unaware that you’re unhappy and may even welcome the opportunity to put things right. They may recognise your service or recent hard work and take the nudge to offer you something more.

Even if they can’t offer you a promotion or a pay rise straight away, a good employer will take stock of your request. Be sharing this information, it gives them the opportunity to bring forward a performance review or look into a potential training course.

If your conversation falls on deaf ears however, at least you’ll know you’re making the right decision and now is time to go.

2. Things to consider before you resign

Before you resign, make sure you’ve thought everything through. Whilst it’s not always possible, ideally you’ll want to have another job to go to. It’s always easy to find another job when you’ve already got one. You don’t want to run the risk that your job search takes longer than expected and leave yourself short on cash.

When you’ve found a new job, the offer details should be confirmed in writing before you hand in your resignation. Whilst a verbal offer usually comes first, it’s not official until you’ve received the offer paperwork. Make sure you’ve read all the details carefully and are happy with what’s on offer. You should put your acceptance in writing and agreed a provisional start date with your new boss so you know nothing can go wrong.

It’s then a good idea to put your finances in order. There may be a short gap between your final pay check with your current company and the next one from your new employer arriving in your account. Sometimes you might even be switching from weekly to monthly pay dates and need to have some savings set aside.

Finally, check your existing employment contract to find out your notice period. If you’ve worked for the company for 1 month or more, you’re legally required to give 1 weeks’ notice. But contracts can often require a longer period, with 4 weeks being the norm.

3. Handing in your notice

When you’ve made up your mind it’s time to go and you’re ready to resign, start by thinking about the reasons you’re going to give. The first question your boss is likely to ask is why, so make sure you’ve considered what you’ll say.

It’s always best (though not always possible) to tell your boss first. Schedule a meeting or ask to talk to them privately. Pick a convenient time when they don’t have another meeting to go to, ideally towards the end of the day. 

State the basics. Explain that you’re formally resigning from your job and giving the required notice to leave. Be polite and professional and try to avoid the urge to lay the blame or point fingers. Whilst it can be tempting to get everything off your chest if you’ve been unhappy during the course of your employment, bear in mind you still have to work your notice.

Your boss might then explain the next steps – such as confirming your notice, discussing a handover or putting you on gardening leave. They may be surprised to hear the news and need to come back to you on this once it’s sunk in. Try not to linger and be sure to thank them for the opportunity you’ve been given.

You’ll then need to put your resignation in writing and speak to the HR department if you have one.

4. Dealing with a counter-offer

Don’t be surprised if your boss responds by asking you to stay. Although you should never expect it, counter-offers are more common than you might think. Once the realisation kicks in that your employer will need to replace you and your knowledge of the company or specific job role, they may also recognise your value.

Depending on the reasons you’ve given, you could be offered a promotion or more money to tempt you stay. You should listen to what’s on offer and weigh up your options before making a decision either way. 

Just remember however, your reasons for wanting to leave in the first place. There’s often more than one underlying factor that makes you decide to leave a job and you’ve probably put a lot of effort into finding a better one. If you do decide to stay, you might always be wondering ‘what if’ or the problems you were hoping to leave behind might slowly creep back in.

Once you’ve told your boss you’re going, there might also be concerns from them (or your co-workers). They could think you’re no longer as committed or even some resentment if you’ve managed to squeeze out some extra cash.

5. Tell your colleagues you’re leaving

If you’ve not leaked the news already, it can be hard to break it to your co-workers, particularly if you have friends at work. Where possible, you should try to keep it to yourself until you’ve spoken to your manager and made sure it’s okay to share the news.

Once it’s out in the open, make sure you remain professional. Just as you were with your boss, it’s a good idea to avoid being too honest with your colleagues as well. Remember that they have to stay and you don’t want to cause unnecessary disruption for your employer to deal with after you’ve gone.

Speak directly to your closest co-workers and let them know you’ve enjoyed working together. Tell some personally but an email will be fine to the rest. You may even be asked to contact customers or suppliers to hand over to a new point of contact, but check this with your manager first.

Finally the deed is done and you can start make preparations for your new start. Make sure you conduct yourself professionally during your notice period and don’t slack off. It’s always a good idea not to burn any bridges and references may still need to be checked.

Fingers crossed all will run smoothly as you resign from your job and you’ll find it an easy transition to your new role.

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