Notice period
By Chris Bongard
24th March 2014

Perhaps you’ve finally reached the end of your increasingly frayed, overworked tether. Or maybe you’re feeling bored, unchallenged, or fed up. When it comes time to resign from a job you’re glad to be leaving, how honest should you be in your notice letter?

Jacking it all in and striding off into the sunset can be a liberating and empowering experience. But with employer references, social media profiles and the value of your professional reputation at stake, you might want to avoid certain tactics.

Here are our top tips on what NOT to do:

  1. Don’t cause a mutiny

Don’t try to bring the place down around you as you leave. Never use your notice letter as an excuse to say all those things you never had the bottle to say before. Your soon-to-be ex-colleagues are still employees, and might be perfectly happy to stay or have personal ambitions you don’t know about. Trying to whip up a storm to justify what you are doing – either to yourself or to them – only looks like sour grapes.

  1. Don’t resign angry

Carefully check your contract and when your final working day will be before you even write your notice letter. This way, you can discuss your resignation with your boss from a calm and considered position. Think about what you might say and give yourself time to consider any questions you might be asked. Resist the temptation to be overly negative.

  1. Don’t resign as a negotiating tactic

Don’t expect your employer to make a counter offer to keep you. It’s possible, and it does happen, but you need to be absolutely certain you want to leave and be prepared for your resignation to be accepted. Threatening to quit is not a viable negotiation tactic for a pay rise.

  1. Don’t gossip

Don’t show off about your new job before you’ve handed in your notice. You shouldn’t spread the word around your colleagues or mention it at all – even on social media - until you’ve at least gone through the formalities with the boss.

What should you say in your notice letter then? You may want to list the many things wrong with your current position. But you won’t hear “Thanks for your insight; we will change our ways.” What will happen in reality is you’ll risk being let go straight away without a goodbye, and you’ll struggle to get a good reference.

The reality of your career calls for tact and professionalism. If you can’t say anything nice in your notice letter, keep it simple. ‘Thanks for the opportunity to have worked here, but I’m moving on to new challenges’ should just about cover it. 

We’d love to hear about how you’ve handled past resignations, or cautionary tales of spectacular flounces you may have seen.

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