Whatever the reasons you’re leaving your current job, it is imperative for your professional reputation that you leave with dignity and on good terms.

Upsetting your boss or colleagues could hurt your chances of getting a good reference in the future. It may also hinder your job search; it’s a small world, throwaway comments online could make it back to potential employers, so be careful with your use of social media.

The first thing you should check, is how long you’re contractually obligated to work after giving notice. If you’re involved in an important project, you may consider giving longer notice than your contract states you’re required to.

Below are the steps you should take when you have decided it’s time to hand in your resignation, to make sure you leave on good terms: 

1. Tell your manager first

You should write a letter of resignation for HR purposes but it should be given to your boss in person. Choose a suitable time to meet with your boss, like the end of the day, so you have time to explain your reasons for leaving. Tell other people after this meeting if you want, but not before.

2. Be honest but respectful

There are probably multiple reasons for you leaving your current job, but whatever the main reason is make sure you’re honest and respectful about it when handing in your notice. 

If you’re leaving your current job for a better salary, provide this as your reason, but without boasting. If you’re moving jobs because you don’t get on with your boss or colleagues, however, you should keep it to yourself. 

Instead concentrate on what you’ve got out of the job and explain the other reasons why the move is right for you.

3. Be prepared for a counter-offer

If your boss thinks highly of you, they may try convincing you to stay. Think about why you’re leaving in the first place, and decide whether being offered more money is a good enough reason to stay. 

Accepting a counter-offer and staying with your current employer isn’t always the best option – here are some of the main reasons you should stick to you guns and continue to make the move

4. Don’t bad-mouth

Nothing good comes of talking negatively about your colleagues or managers. Leaving on good terms allows for networking opportunities and future recommendations if you need them. So stay amicable and positive until the end. 

5. Don’t coast through your notice period

Even though you’re leaving the business you still need to pull your weight until your last day. Try to stay engaged in meetings, and work through any of your ongoing projects so that there’s no lose ends when you leave. 

6. Ensure a smooth handover

Offer to train your replacement, tie up any loose ends and finish all projects you can in the time you have. Clear your desk of any personal items and ensure your computer is ready for its new user.

Make sure you have returned all documents and company property, and clear up your email accounts.

What’s next?

When you do leave, thank your co-workers for their support during your time at the organisation, leave your contact details and get theirs. If you’ve had a truly terrible experience working with the people there, don’t have a rant on your way out the door, keep your goodbyes simple. 

To find out what you should be earning in your next role, take a look through our comprehensive salary guides for a breakdown of salaries per role, per region.


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