How to leave your job with grace

15 May 2017

leaving drinks with colleagues

It can be hard to let go of a team you were close to, or to feel like you are letting down an employer who always had your best interests at heart. It can also be hard to leave a workplace with grace when you feel your employer has treated you unfairly, or your colleagues have made your working life difficult. Whether you are leaving a workplace you hated, or one where you had happy times and good friends, you should always try and follow the same process, to make sure that you cut ties professionally, and with dignity.


Make sure you are making the right decision


While it’s exciting and flattering to receive a job offer, take a step back and consider all the pros and cons before accepting and handing in your notice. Your current employer may not be willing to take you back if you change your mind, so make sure you think carefully. Are you leaving simply to get a higher salary, rather than taking into account the working hours, environment, demands and flexibility of your potential employer? Would you be happy staying in the same place if a couple of adjustments were made to your package? Your current employer may be willing to improve their offering in order to keep you as an employee, so don’t be afraid to speak to your boss about your wants and needs before making your decision.


Check your contract


While many employers require you to give one month’s notice, don’t just assume this is sufficient, check what is written in your employment contract. Once you know the notice period required, you can also inform your new employer, so they can suggest a suitable start date and prepare for your arrival. You should check your contract thoroughly for any additional clauses that relate to your departure. For example, some employers may require you to return certain company property, or state that you must pay back a percentage of training costs if you leave before you have completed a certain period of employment.


Follow the formal resignation process


Even if you are part of a very small team and communicate with your employer on a daily basis, you should still formalise your resignation, and write your boss a dated letter, or at least write an email in a formal style. State the date from which you are giving notice, even if it is apparent from the action you are taking. Confirm the notice period you are giving, in line with your contractual obligations. Thank your employer, and wish them the best for the future, as this polite gesture will demonstrate professionalism, however you really feel about each other.


Discuss the next steps with your employer


To be professional, you can’t hand in your notice then run away and hide. You will need to speak to your employer to confirm your official leaving date, and any other processes you need to follow before you leave. Your employer may need you to help with the handover to a new employee, and you may be expected to continue your usual day-to-day duties until your last day. You may have some of your annual leave allowance left to use, and you may need to speak to your employer about how you receive your final benefits. Your colleagues will also need to be informed, so ask your employer how they would like to go about this, as they may choose to do it on your behalf.


Stay positive, and continue to make an effort until your last day


It may be tempting to tell the manager you hate a few home truths, but don’t burn your bridges! Remember that you are still an employee until your leaving date has passed, so you are still required to perform your duties in a professional manner, even after you have handed in your notice. Though the manager you dislike may not be the person who writes your reference, that doesn’t mean she won’t discuss your misbehaviour with industry colleagues. Don’t risk getting a bad reputation that could affect your future career.


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