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The notice period - Why it's important to leave on good terms

Handing in your notice of resignation to your employer might seem a daunting task, but it is important to make sure you do it professionally and ‘by the book’. Here is some advice for how you should hand in your notice, how you should behave during your notice period, what to do and say in your exit interview and the reasons why it is important to leave on good terms.

Handing in your notice

So you’ve decided you want to leave your current job. Perhaps you have a new job lined up or maybe you’re just taking some time to yourself. Whatever the reason, it is important to make sure you follow your company’s procedure for handing in your notice. You should start by checking your contract to find out the following:

  • How long your notice period needs to be (this will be a minimum of 1 week if you have been working at the company for over 1 month).
  • The required method of handing in your notice.
  • Any issues around your pay during your notice period.
  • What the procedures are if you are leaving your company to go and work for a competitor.

Now you know what the rules are, you should prepare a resignation letter. This may not be required but it is highly advisable to prepare your notice in writing with a date and signature for your records, just in case there are any disagreements about the day you handed in your notice later down the line. Once you have this letter prepared, print a copy for your employer and one for yourself. You should choose an appropriate time to give your letter of resignation to your manager (for example, don’t do it 5 minutes before they go into an important meeting) and should always hand it in face to face.

You should ask to talk in private, explain that you are handing in your notice and give them the letter. They may have many questions for you and it is advisable that you have prepared reasons why you want to leave and choose your words wisely. For example, it is better to say “I am leaving because another company has offered me a better opportunity for my career progression” than it is to say “I am leaving because I dislike you and can’t stand working for you any more”. Once you have handed your notice in, the notice period usually starts the following day but you may want to check this with your employer to be sure.

During your notice period

During your notice period you should make an extra effort to impress and ensure that your manager has no reason to complain about you. Your manager may take a special interest in your performance during your notice period as you will probably have work that needs to be completed or handed over before you leave. You should remain polite, professional and helpful at all times. This may be hard if you are leaving because of an issue with another employee but it is worth biting your tongue as you will be leaving soon and will not have to deal with them again! Make sure you reach any deadlines and prepare handover notes to make the transition run smoothly. Do not start to complain about the job or talk about how excited you are to leave, just show appreciation for the opportunities you have been offered at this company and excitement for your journey ahead.

The exit interview

Your exit interview is your chance to have an open, honest discussion about any issues you may have experienced during your time at the company and why you are leaving. You should not use this as an excuse to start an argument or make any accusations but as an opportunity to offer constructive criticism and ideas for change within the company. You should prepare yourself before the exit interview; write a list or agenda of what you would like to talk about and really think about the point you want to get across but make sure you stick to the facts and don’t be overly opinionated. Be thankful for the opportunities given to you at the company and wish them luck for the future. If you feel your manager is being defensive towards your constructive criticism then it may be better to just end the interview and not push the point. 

Why is it important to stay on good terms?

You may be wondering why you need to stay on good terms with your employer when you will soon be leaving, however there are several reason why this is a good idea:

  • You will need a reference – If you behave badly during your notice period it will ruin all of the hard work you put in during your time at the company as they may refuse to give you a reference. Future employers value good references as it gives them an idea of what kind of worker you are.
  • Your colleagues may be good contacts in the future – Remember that your current colleagues may be able to alert you to opportunities in the future.
  • This may not be the last time you see your current colleagues – This is especially true if you are starting a new job in the same industry. You may see each other at networking events, conferences or meetings. It makes things much easier if you have left on good terms and avoid any awkwardness.
  • It shows that you are professional – No matter what your reasons for leaving are, you should remain professional in the work place. This will win the respect of your colleagues and will leave you feeling more positive about the whole experience.

If you’re thinking about leaving your current position and would like some advice or want to find out what opportunities are available to you, contact our friendly team today.