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How to Leave Your Job

How to leave your job

If you've caught wind of an opportunity to advance your career - or if you're just sick of your current job and fancy a change - then it might be time to hand in your notice and depart for pastures new. But how you leave your job can have a big impact on your future, so it's important to plan your exit properly.

(Still undecided? Our previous blog post Should I Change Jobs? explores some of the most common reasons for quitting and goes over the ifs and buts of whether you should resign. Today's we're going to assume you've already made up your mind and focus on how to resign while keeping things nice and professional.)

Important: try to leave your current job on good terms!

Very little good comes from quitting your job in a fit of rage. Not only is it unprofessional, it can also burn bridges that might have come in handy later in your career.

You might, for example, need a reference for some future job; or maybe you'll bump into your former manager at an industry event at some point down the line. In any case, your boss has invested time, money and resources into your career development, and whether you're pals or not, you owe it to them to leave respectfully.


Do you know what you'll be doing after you leave?

Quitting your job without thinking ahead can leave you at a loose end. Ideally, you'll have a new job lined up before you resign from your current role; in this scenario, you should have a seamless transition between jobs, and you hopefully won't have to worry about filling your time in between.

But maybe that's not you - maybe you're planning to leave the world of work behind for a while in order to study or travel. If you're considering these options, we strongly recommend getting the plans and funding in place before you hand in your notice. You don't want to leave your job only to find out that your plans for the next year or two have fallen through.

If you're really daring (or really fed up), you might decide to leave your job without even 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.


How to break the news to your boss

Once you've decided to leave your job, it's time to prepare yourself for a chat with the boss. Resignation meetings are daunting, and it's perfectly normal to be nervous. So be prepared! We recommend taking some time beforehand to prepare what you're going to say - this will help you to avoid saying something you'll regret later.

If your boss wasn't expecting you to leave, they might be a little shocked or even angry. No matter how badly your boss takes the news, it's important to stay calm and stay professional.

Of course, most bosses understand that people leave jobs. You're probably not the first employee who's handed in their notice.


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 terribly long; it just needs to include your name, a statement about your decision to leave, when your notice is effective from, and your signature.

If you wish, you can include a short positive message, thanking your boss for their support during the course of your employment. If you're leaving because you're unhappy, you might want to omit this, but you absolutely should NOT use your resignation letter to air your grievances about the company, 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 up all the loose ends and look forward to starting your next adventure without creating an unpleasant atmosphere for the people you're leaving behind.

While you're working your notice period, your boss is likely to start advertising for your replacement. Don't be offended if the attention is no longer on you and your career prospects during this period - your boss is likely to be preoccupied with the needs of the business.

Things you should do on your last day at work

Congratulations - you've successfully made it to your last day at your current job! You're probably feeling a mixture of emotions right now: excitement because you're about to embark on something new, but perhaps also some sadness as you leave your colleagues and workplace 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 any colleagues you wish 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.

  • Wipe any personal information from your computer and any other devices you've used as part of your job.
  • Send a goodbye message to your colleagues. It might be a good idea to ask your boss before sending a company-wide email, just in case they were planning to break the news themselves.
  • As you approach the end of the day, take the time to say goodbye to people personally.

So those are our tips for leaving your job in a professional and respectful manner. If you're looking for a new job opportunity in the life sciences sector, you're in the right place - click the button below to browse the latest UK science jobs.

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