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How to hand in your notice

8 minutes

Congratulations on being offered your new position. Now you are faced with the daunting task...

Congratulations on being offered your new position. Now you are faced with the daunting task of handing in your notice. Sometimes, this stage can be more harrowing than the interview, especially if you have been with your present company for a long time. Don't worry, you are not alone. Most people are understandably apprehensive. This comprehensive guide to handing in your notice will cover:

Once you have received your Offer Letter from your new company, you need to prepare to hand in your notice. Try not to feel guilty about resigning. Remember the reasons why you decided to leave. It is likely that those reasons are not going to change.

Prepare a letter of resignation. Make the letter short and concise and include the notice period that you will serve. Your written resignation should also be definite. There is absolutely no obligation to state your reasons for leaving, although many people add a goodwill tag. If you have any grievances, don't express them in this letter. Do not give cause for animosity.

Arrange a meeting with your appropriate superior as soon as possible. Do not delay - your new company is keen for you to join them. Always prepare what you are going to say and take your letter of resignation with you.

Letter of resignation

Here is a sample letter:

Dear ( )
Please take this letter as my formal resignation as (position) at (company), effective from today's date. In conjunction with the terms stated in my contract of employment, I hereby give you (x month's) notice.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity that you and (the company) have given me in developing my skills and furthering my career. I shall make every effort in ensuring that the transition period goes smoothly for all concerned.

Yours sincerely,

The Meeting

Be prepared for a reaction!

Remember that companies are often shocked and upset in losing a good member of staff, and they may be caught unaware when you hand in your notice. If your employer presses you for reasons, give brief and positive answers. Do not argue or complain, and do not allow yourself to be deflected from your purpose or be drawn into a protracted discussion.

Do everything possible to establish a friendly tone and leave a good impression. State that you are leaving because your new employment offers you opportunities for advancement. Your decision is the result of careful consideration.

The meeting should be very straightforward, especially if you show from the start that your mind is made up. If you show any doubt about your decision, then this will be picked up.

The "Counter Offer"

Some companies have been known to respond to resignations by matching or exceeding your new salary package. If you have gone through the recruitment process in the hope that you may get a counter offer, you are playing a very dangerous game.

You looked for a new job in the first place because you were unhappy with your current position, and it has taken you handing in your notice for your boss to wake up to the facts and realise your worth. Also, your new company has recognised your strengths straight away. At the end of the day, it is your life and your career - you must be selfish up to a point. Do not be persuaded to withdraw your notice to contemplate things as this will only delay your start date with your new employer, and this will not impress them.

Ill Will

Some companies are desperate not to lose staff and may 'badmouth' your intended new employer. If you hear of a worrying piece of information about your new employer, please call your new company or your recruitment agency to confirm or dispel the rumour.

Emotional Blackmail

A great deal of pressure can be placed upon individuals by companies to get employees to stay, since it is very costly and time-consuming replacing valued members of staff. We have heard reports of wages or bonuses already earned not being paid and threats of bad references. There are employment laws protecting your rights. However, always seek advice.

Shown the Door?

This can often happen in a sales environment or where there are high levels of confidentiality or trade secrets entrusted. Some companies feel that keeping an employee to work notice can upset the rest of the workforce, as he or she is demotivated and probably not as productive.

If possible, leave detailed instructions for your replacement. Check that all your records are in order. Inform your colleagues that you are leaving. When discussing things with them, resist the temptation to make disparaging comments about your present job or boast about your new one.

Your Rights

Ideally you will want to leave your company on harmonious and positive terms, but you may find that you have an employment contract which is unreasonable or that you risk losing your new job because of fears of bad references from your old company. If you have an irreconcilable dispute, please contact the Citizens Advice Bureau, ACAS, or a solicitor for further advice.

Notice Period

Statutory notice is set at one week for every year of employment to a maximum of 12 weeks. If you have signed a contract for a longer period than this, you are entitled to renegotiate for a more reasonable length of notice. This is best approached in the resignation meeting. Some people prefer to shorten their notice by deducting outstanding holidays owed to them from the notice period. Do not work longer than you have to. Temporary staff do not have a notice period unless otherwise stated in their contract. They can leave immediately but it is usually preferable to work to the end of the week at least.

Poor Reference

No company should give you a poor or non-factual reference even if you leave on poor terms. Anyone who writes untruths leaves themselves wide open to be sued for 'defamation of character'.

No Pay

Getting your last month's salary and entitlements from past employers can sometimes be tricky. Any salary owed to you is covered under the Wages Act 1986. As a last resort, if phoning the company daily hasn't worked, you can make a very simple claim in the County Court under the Act without the need of a solicitor. Simply call your local court for the form and information.

"It is important that you behave in a professional manner throughout the resignation process. Your character and your personal integrity should never be in question. Be positive, be co-operative and avoid recriminations."