Advice Centre

Handing In Your Notice - How to Resign Gracefully


Benchmark Career Advice, advice-centre

How to hand in your notice 

Where you have landed the new job of your dreams, or you have chosen to step out into the great career unknown, it is natural to feel eager to move on and hand in your notice for your current job. But before you start rolling in at 10am and taking 70 minute lunch breaks, stop and take stock, as your last few weeks in your current role can sometimes be as important as your first few weeks there. 
Once you have secured your new position it is important to remember that life still goes on in your current company, therefore it is essential that you handle your departure as professionally and considerately as possible before handing in your notice. Don't breathe a word if imminent resignation to anyone in the company until you have chance to resign formally, your current boss won't take kindly to being the last to know. 
The following seven steps will help make the process as painless as possible: 
  1. Write your letter of resignation UK 
  2. Pick your moment to deliver how to resign from a job 
  3. Get straight to the point 
  4. Prepare for all outcomes 
  5. Inform your colleagues 
  6. Tie up any lose ends 
  7. Leave a great lasting impression 

1. Write your letter of resignation

How to resign
As soon as you have signed on the dotted line for your new position, it is time to compose a letter of resignation for your existing job. A letter of resignation should be a formal typed letter, rather than an email, and ideally you should hand deliver it to your boss. Keep your letter short and sweet, detail your preferred notice period (ideally at least two weeks), and don't go into too much detail about why you are leaving. It is far better to simply say that you are leaving to pursue new challenges that to nit-pick over any grievances that you may have had with the company. Keep your letter positive and respectful, you never know when you may need a referral in the future!

2. Pick your moment 

It may feel awkward and overly formal handing your boss a letter of resignation, but the best thing about doing it this way is that you can choose the right moment to deliver it. For obvious reasons, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons aren't ideal for dropping a bombshell, neither are the crucial hours before a big meeting or right at the end of the day. 
Use your common sense and find a slot when your boss doesn't look like they are tearing their hair out. Try popping your head into their office and asking if they have time for a meeting, this can make the conversation feel a lot less daunting. If that isn't possible, pencil a convenient time in their diary. Don't forget to take the letter with you so that you can hand it over in context of the conversation. 

3. Get straight to the point

When the time comes to deliver the news to your boss, don't beat around the bush in an attempt to soften the blow, simply inform them that you want to submit your resignation. Be single minded, and make it clear that you intend to resign from your position permanently.
Two suggestions of how you can approach the subject are: 
"I've been considering my options for some time, and I've decided it's time for me to move on. I am grateful for the opportunities I've found here, but I must give my two weeks' notice". OR " I would like to let you know that I have been offered a new position at another company. I have really enjoyed working here, but I need to give you my two weeks' notice as of today." 
Be prepared to discuss your reasons for leaving, although it is best to err on the side of caution and remain tactful. Simply stating "I think it is time to head in a different direction with my career" provides the perfect answer to a multitude of awkward questions.

4. Prepare for all outcomes 

People resign every day, so it isn't something that bosses are unfamiliar with. In the majority of cases, a resignation is recieved graciously and notice periods are often negotiable. However, it's always worth considering the following scenarios: 
  • Your resignation may be met with an offer of a pay-rise or incentive (such as a promotion or flexible working hours), would this convince you to stay? Think about why you are leaving, what opportunities are left for you at your current company and what possibilities you may have open to you elsewhere. 
  • Your boss may insist you work out a longer notice period that you were expecting, which may clash with your start date at your new job. Pre-empt this by looking at your holiday entitlement prior to the meeting to see if you have any outstanding time that you can negotiate with.
  • You may be escorted off the premises immediately (especially if you are going to a rival company). If you think this may happen, make sure that you have tied up any personal effects before going into the meeting. 
Before you deliver your resignation, make sure that you have familiarised yourself with the small print of your contract regarding your notice period, and also the company's termination options so that you are clear on your employment rights. 

5. Inform my Colleagues 

One certainty about office life is that gossip spreads like wildfire. The best way to ensure that you aren't the subject of water cooler whisperings is to be upfront and honest with your colleagues because if you don't, it will be 100% the wrong way on approaching how to resign from a job. 
Before you spread the news, ensure that your boss is happy for you to do so, as they may want to make the announcement themselves. When you are able to discuss your imminent departure, make sure that you all approach all key people that you work with and acknowledge the news. Let them know that you have valued your time working with them, and thank them for any help or support they have given you during your time working together. 

6. Tie up Any Loose Ends. 

Whilst you are heading off to a new, exciting future, it is important to remember your departure is likely to cause extra work for those you leave behind. Colleagues are possibly going to have to step in and cover some of your work, bosses will have to take the time to recruit your replacement an there is bound to be an element of unrest whilst your department adjusts to change. 
Leaving on a good note will ensure that you are missed, not resented, because when it comes to the work place, it really is a small world, and you never know when you will come across your current colleagues in the future. With this in mind: 
  • Leave comprehensive handover notes, and take time to thoroughly brief you colleagues
  • If appropriate, inform any clients/suppliers that you deal with directly of your imminent departure, and if possible introduce them to the person who will be taking over from you.
  • Complete any outstanding admin, e.g. time sheets, expenses etc. 

7. Leave a Great Last Impression

When the time comes to pack up your desk and say goodbye by handing in notice at work, do so on a positive note. Ensure you take time to personally thank and shake hands with your boss and other significant members of staff who have contributed to your progression at the company. 
And, if you end up saying goodbye over a few drinks... Make sure you are remembered for the great work you did at the company not four your eleventh hour antics in the pub!