With any job, there will come a time when it‘s best to move on.
“Jobs for life” are a thing of the distant past, and it is becoming increasingly common for people to switch companies every few years.
Of course, no one starts a job with the intention to quit. There’s always the hope that things will work out so well you won’t have to. Once integrated into a company, it’s often appealing to try to stick around and work your way up.
For most though, the time will eventually come to leave for pastures new. So it’s smart to be prepared.
Whether you’ve found a new job elsewhere, or are just unhappy with your current position, it’s important to go about quitting in a professional manner. Here we show you how it’s done.
First, we’ll walk through the steps you should take before formally notifying your manager of your intention to leave.
Faced with the stresses and strains of a demanding job, it can sometimes be tempting to just walk away. But how do you know when it is really time to leave?
Think first about what your current job gives you, and seriously consider the consequences of leaving. Always have a plan in place before making a move.
You have another job
If you’ve secured another position elsewhere, and you think it’s an improvement on what you’re doing currently, then the time has come to leave.
Don’t jump the gun though. Make sure everything is confirmed before you inform your colleagues – contract negotiations sometimes falter.
You’re going nowhere fast
If you can’t envision a future for yourself at the company and see no way of your current role situation, then it may be right to walk away.
Don’t let a bad job stifle your ambitions or hold you back from achieving career goals.
Moving on might be the only way to find a stimulating role in which you can grow, but only leave your current position if you’re sure you can find a new job quickly. Don’t leave yourself in unnecessary financial peril.
You just need a break
Sometimes jobs don’t work out how we’d originally hoped. Perhaps things have changed around you and made your day-to-day unbearable.
If you’re really unhappy and in danger of burn out, it is fair enough to call it a day. In this case, do your best to plan ahead, asking yourself where you’d be happier working – and how you might get there.
Before you actually go through with resigning, you should do everything you can to avoid it. Who knows, you might be able to turn things around.
Never leave a position with regrets. It’s easy to move on if you know you did everything to make your last job work out.
Try to solve your problems
Whether you’ve found a new opportunity or not, if you’re considering leaving there are probably good reasons for it. Try to identify these and see if they can be remedied.
If you can honestly say that there is no hope of finding solutions to your problems, then you should feel confident about your decision to quit.
Be honest with someone
Before you take the plunge and announce your intention to resign, try talking to someone you can trust about your reasons for leaving. You may be surprised at their ability to help.
It’s easy to underestimate how important you are to your company. By raising your concerns they will have a chance to try and improve the situation and convince you to stay.
Enquire about internal opportunities
If your current position isn’t working out, your company might be able to find something else for you internally.
Finding something internal to work towards, like a possible promotion, might help restore your faith in sticking it out in an environment you already know.
So you’ve made your mind up to leave. Here’s how to resign from your position in the most professional way possible.
Talk to the right people
When quitting a job, it’s important to communicate things clearly.
You’ve probably already raised your concerns, but now you want to be clear about your final decision.
- Inform your line manager first. Before formally notifying anyone, it’s important to let your line manager know you’ve decided to leave. Here you can talk about next steps and raise any important considerations before moving forward with the formalities.
- Consult HR about the process. You should read your contract and familiarize yourself with the relevant employment regulations before making your decision. But once made, it’s best to check with HR that the legal stuff is as you expected.
- Wait before breaking the news to colleagues. Don’t tell your colleagues until everything is confirmed and there’s no going back. (This will be after your letter of resignation has been accepted – see below on how to write this). Your manager or a senior staff member might prefer to make the announcement.
Plan for your departure
Once you’re on your way out the door it’s important to make sure the house is in order.
Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean your work is done. Finish strongly and ensure the company is prepared for life without you.
- Give notice and agree on a date. Your official notice period will depend on what your contract has laid out, but this date can still be agreed with your line manager. It may be possible to extend or reduce your notice period in light of your workload.
- Draw up a transition document and train your successor. It’s inevitable that some useful knowledge will leave along with you. To minimize disruption, prioritize recording important details and information in a handover document, even if you also get the chance to walk your successor through the job before you leave.
- Ask for a letter of reference. It’s easy to forget this step, but you won’t regret it. It’s extremely useful to have a positive reference on file, and you never know when it will prove useful. Request a reference while your contribution is still fresh in the memory.
Send a letter of resignation
Your letter of resignation is an important document, and a chance to state clearly your intentions and explain your reasons for leaving.
It’s also an opportunity to thank those responsible for giving you the opportunity in the first place. Take the time to write it up properly, and remember to keep a copy for your records.
1. State your intention to resign
After addressing the letter (or, more typically nowadays, email) to the appropriate person, it’s important to state the key details first.
Make it clear that you intend to resign from your role (always put your full job title) and state the specific end date you have agreed with your line manager and HR.
2. Explain your reasons for leaving
This is your chance to make it clear what has led to your resignation. You may wish simply to say that you’ve found a new job elsewhere that represents an important step up.
If you feel it is best to offer more detail, this is your chance. If your decision comes as a surprise, it might be a good idea to state clearly what has motivated you to take such a big decision.
3. Thank your employer for the opportunity
When explaining why you are leaving you should acknowledge the opportunity you have been given. But it’s important to explicitly thank the recipient of your letter, and the company more broadly, for hiring you in the first place.
It’s always good to conclude on a positive note, even if you’re leaving because you are currently unhappy in your role. Wish them well for the future and urge them to keep in touch.
Done properly, resigning your job should be the start of a new chapter and a chance to celebrate what you’ve achieved. It shouldn’t be something to fear.
The relationships you’ve made will be worth holding on to and may prove invaluable in the future. Try and leave on the best terms you can, and don’t forget to be grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given.
- Write a farewell message. When the day of your departure finally comes, take the time to write a message to all your colleagues. Remember to leave contact details so they can get in touch in future, and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
- Express your gratitude. Even if you’re glad to be moving on, this is your chance to show some appreciation. Thank your colleagues for what they’ve done for you, and highlight some of the most positive and rewarding aspects of your time on the team.
- Do an exit interview. You probably have some ideas about how things could be improved in the future, and about what needs development and attention. An exit interview with your boss or an HR representative is a chance to share some hard-won wisdom and pass on valuable advice.