Resigning and moving on

Resigning is your decision to hand in your notice and advise your employer that you want to end your employment contract and leave the organisation

There are many reasons for resigning:

  • You’ve been offered another job you prefer
  • You are starting a college course or full-time training
  • You don’t like the job
  • You can no longer do the job
  • You have found something better
  • Your personal circumstances have changed
  • You are going for a complete career change

Your contract will say how many weeks’ notice you need to give before you leave. You must give at least one weeks’ notice if you have been in your job for a month. You do this by handing in a letter of resignation which can be an email, or letter. You can do it verbally, but it is much better to have a written copy. Normally you would send your resignation email/letter to your line Manager.

You will be expected to continue to work during your notice period  unless the company has told you not to.

Before you resign, think VERY carefully as your employer does not have to take you back if you change your mind

What you should include in your resignation letter:

  • Your name, job title and contact details
  • The date
  • Your manager’s name
  • State that you are resigning
  • Say when your last day at work will be
  • If you want to explain, use a second paragraph to say why you are leaving (you do not have to, and in some cases it may be better not to, especially if you think there’s any chance you may one day regret it)
  • Say thank-you for the time you have had with the company and the opportunities you have been given

Wherever possible, it is important to remain on good terms with your employer. You never know when you might want their help – for example you might need them to give you a reference in the future.

Alternatives to resignation  – career breaks and unpaid leave

If you don’t want to leave your job but your personal circumstances have changed, ask whether your employer may allow career breaks or extended unpaid leave, and whether you would qualify. In larger companies you could ask your Human Resources or Personnel department if there is a policy covering these situations. If they do, the policy should state:

  • Who is eligible?
  • How much notice you must give?
  • Whether your contractual terms and conditions such as leave and pay increases continue whilst you’re on leave
  • How to apply
  • How much time is allowed?

Be aware that career break or unpaid leave arrangements are not legally binding, and do not guarantee that you can go back to the same post or even a similar job

Moving on

Once you have decided that you are leaving and you have formally told the company, one option is to simply slip away quietly. However, it is more usual to take time to tell your colleagues. If appropriate, you should thank them for being a colleague for the time you have been with the company and to let them know who will be doing the work when you leave. This may be your line manager if you don’t know who is taking over from you.

Most workplaces have their own routines for when someone leaves. Ask your line manager or mentor what normally happens, but you may find you need to:

  • Bring in cake to say thank you and goodbye
  • Arrange leaving drinks for close colleagues
  • Receive a leaving card at a presentation in a meeting
  • Leave quietly without anyone noticing

Sometimes, a celebration or ‘leaving do’ will be arranged by your manager or other members of the team.

If any of the usual leaving celebrations make you very uncomfortable, you can ask for a quieter alternative as you are the primary reason for the event!

Managing the transition when you leave a job

Changing your working routine is hard. Just how much changes as a result of your decision, will depend on whether you have a job to move on to and whether it’s similar. Even within the same company, different teams have their own rules and ways of working. To make sure that you understand the etiquette of the new team, ask what happens in your new team.

Do what you can to make the transition easier. You might like to review our section on starting a new role.

If you do not have a job to move on to, see our section on looking after yourself while not working.