There will become a point in your career where you feel that your ambitions and skills are no longer compatible with the company you are currently working for. Maybe you are looking for a better work life balance or feel that you need more responsibility now that your aspirations are changing. Leaving to go on to pastures new is an inevitable career shift for many people. Therefore knowing how to leave with grace so that the door is always open if things do go wrong is essential. 

At PDM Recruitment we have put together a need-to-know guide on how employees can leave with their personal brand and references intact.

Before you hand in your resignation

Make sure to give your boss plenty of time when you hand in your notice. Many companies will have a mandate in place in the contract dictating how much notice needs to be given. This usually varies by the amount of years an employee has worked and will state the number of weeks necessary beforehand. Familiarise yourself with your notice period and be sure to work till the very end. If the handbook states that you only need to give 2 weeks’ notice, we would say as a matter of respect for your employer increase this to maybe 3-4 weeks instead.  This will allow them plenty of time to make the necessary replacements to cover any business requirements and will be appreciated.

Draft up a letter of resignation, which you can hand to your boss when the resignation meeting is scheduled. If you are unsure about what the letter needs to contain, then we have listed the key parts below:

A resignation letter must contain the following:

  • Your name
  • The date
  • Addressee and their title
  • Notice of termination of employment
  • When this is effective from
  • Your signature

During the meeting remember not to talk too much and always remember your manners. Always be polite and humble, never use such a meeting to scorn or lecture your boss, they will not appreciate it.

After formally handing in your notice:

At this point many candidates may be excited about their new career prospects, but remember you are still an employee of your current workplace, so you will still be expected to act with integrity and respect towards your work colleagues. Here discretion is the better part of valour, never tell people of your ‘dream job’ as it will appear distasteful and selfish. When the time is right, plan on how to tell the right people of your intensions, but not before.

Help in the handover process

If you work in a position of authority and are able you train up the new replacement for your job then do so in a meaningful way. Remember with every action that you do you want to convey a favourable and grateful impression. If you have access to a valuable client base that your employer has trusted you with, no matter how tempting, never take those clients with you.

Do not become lazy in your responsibilities

Even though you may only have a few weeks or months left to work, you must avoid becoming lazy. People will remember if you start to avoid your responsibilities, and start letting the work pile up. Always have in mind that you want to be remembered for all of the right reasons, if people remember your last days with resentment it could harm your prospects if and when you need them in the future.

Part in a meaningful and respectful way

Take your time in thanking all of the people who have taken the time to know you as a person and to develop your career. Avoid contacting them by email or phone by doing it in person, you never know when you might need your colleagues again, so be sure to get their contact details.

After leaving never disrespect your former colleagues or boss

This is a point that many people need to adhere to. Remember you never want to burn your bridges, and if things go wrong in your new job you will always be welcomed back if you have been courteous and pleasant when you left. The door will never be left open to employees who chastise their former work colleague out of spite or malice.

In conclusion

People leaving to start new careers is not a new phenomenon, with the reasons for them choosing to leave varying from better salary propositions through to a better work life balance. Therefore knowing the correct way to leave and on the right terms is a necessary life skill.  

Written by Jennifer Megafu

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