how to leave your job

If a good opportunity for career progression just came up or you're simply sick of your current workplace, then you might have thought about leaving your job in search of greener pastures. Deciding to resign is a life-changing decision that will alter how the next few years of your life will look.

There are lots of reasons for leaving a job and some things can be resolved so that you don't need to walk away completely. In our blog - Should I Change Jobs? - we explored a lot of the most common reasons in a lot of detail. So, rather than going over the if's and but's on whether you should resign, we're going for focus on how you resign in a professional way.


Leave your old job on good terms

Very little good comes from quitting your job in a fit of rage. Not only is it unprofessional, but it can also burn bridges that might be useful to you later down the line. You might, for example, need a reference for a new job or (by some stroke of luck) end up bumping into your old boss in a professional context later down the line. Either way, your boss has put time, money and resources into your career development, and whether you're the best of friends or not, you owe it to him/her to leave respectfully.


Have a plan for what happens next

Leaving your job without thinking ahead can leave you at a loose end. Some people leave their job with another one lined up already, in this scenario, you should have a seamless transition between jobs and not have to worry about filling your time in between.

Other people might be leaving work to study or to go abroad, if these are options your considering, we'd highly recommend getting the plans and funding in place before you hand in your notice. You don't want to leave your job and find out your plans for the next year or two won't come to fruition. 

If you're really daring (or really fed up) you might want to leave your job without contemplating your next move. Taking a leap of faith can work out in your favour if you're lucky, but we'd always recommend a more cautious and methodical approach if you don't want to find yourself in a sticky situation!


Talking to your boss/manager

Once you've decided to leave your job, it's time to prepare yourself for a chat with your boss. Resignation meetings are daunting and you'll probably be nervous. We'd recommend preparing what you'd like to say and trying to stick to it, this will help you avoid unwanted questions and will guarantee that you say everything you feel necessary. 

Be prepared, if your boss isn't expecting you to leave they might be a little shocked, they might even take the new badly and jump on the defensive. Try to diffuse the situation by being professional and staying calm. That being said, most bosses understand that people leave jobs and you can bet you're not the first person who's handed in their resignation.


Handing in an official letter of resignation

When you leave a job, it's customary to hand in a written letter of resignation that your boss can keep on file. Your letter of resignation doesn't need to be long, it just needs to include your name, a statement about your decision to leave, when your notice is effective from and also a signature.

If you'd like to, you can include a short positive message, thanking your boss for their support during the course of your employment. Of course, if you're leaving because you're unhappy, you might want to omit this. One thing's for sure, you shouldn't use your resignation letter to air your grievances about the place of work, your colleagues or the way the business is run!


Working your notice period

Although you might feel ready to grab your stuff and head home immediately after handing in your resignation, most workplaces will require you to work a notice period. This could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Yes, it might be a little awkward at work now that the cat's out of the bag, but hopefully, you'll be able to tie off all the loose ends and look forward to starting your next adventure. 

While you're working your notice period, your boss is likely to start advertising for your replacement. Don't be surprised if the attention is no longer on you and your career prospects during this period, your boss is more than likely pre-occupied thinking about their next move for the business.


Things you should do on your last day at work

Congratulations, you've successfully made it to your last day at your old job. You're probably feeling a mixture of emotions. The excitement that you're about to embark on something new, and the sadness that you're leaving your colleagues and work practices behind. This is a pivotal moment in your life, you're finishing one chapter and moving on to the next. So, what should you do on your very last day?

  • Make sure you have contact details for colleagues you want to stay in touch with.
  • Ensure that all the paperwork has been sorted out with HR.
  • Ask for a letter of recommendation from your manager that you can take to interviews in the future.
  • Clean and tidy your workspace, including wiping content and personal information from your work devices eg. computer.
  • Send an email to your colleagues to let them know you're leaving. You can pass along your contact information if necessary, this might help them resolve open-ended issues after you've gone.
  • As you reach the end of the day, take the time to say goodbye to people personally. 

So there you have it, our tips for leaving your job in a professional and respectful manner! If you're looking for a new job opportunity, you're in the right place! Here at HRS, we have a team of professional recruiters who are focused on finding scientists the life-changing jobs of their dreams!

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