How to quit a job like a professional
There are many reasons to leave a job, but no reason it needs to be difficult or stressful.
Download our free guide How to Resign
There are many reasons to be changing job - Whether you're planning to change careers, escape a tough workplace, or increase your salary, it pays to plan how to resign. Monster will help you. This guide covers what you can expect from the process and how to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Follow our 6 step process
Know Your Value
Draft 'The Letter'
Notice Your Obligations
Pick Your Moment
Plan For Transition
Time To Say Goodbye
Know your Value
Understanding your market value is crucial. It will help you decide if your job, or new job offer, pays fairly. Finding out where your skills are in demand will help you negotiate a great deal with a potential employer. It can add reassurance you are doing the right thing. Knowing your value can even give you a good idea of how the resignation process will go once you decide to quit.
Why? Your value and importance give you power in exit negotiations. In other words, you can’t really know how to 'quit a job', only how to quit your job.
Let’s look at how to calculate your market value, and what that means when you hand in your notice.
Calculate your market value
- Supply and Demand
- Market Factors
- Bargaining Power
- Value vs. Values
Supply and Demand
The laws of supply and demand dictate the job market. Where there is skills-shortage employers find it harder to hire. This means they generally have to offer higher wages or perks to attract the best talent. If demand drops, or there are a large number of people willing and able to do the work, that can drive wages down. At the moment healthcare and logistics are facing large demands for staff at various levels. Workers in these industries, or with the right transferable skills, are in a stronger negotiating position. As well as affecting pay and benefits, the laws of supply and demand also impact on contract terms. The most in-demand workers will frequently have contracts with a longer notice period. Possibly even a clause preventing you from joining a competitor for a set period of time. So before you accept a role or hand in your notice, you'll need to check your contract to see how long you're tied to your current role.
Assess your market value with L.I.V.E.S.
Location, Industry, Vacancies, Experience and Skills.
Location - Wages vary by region - but so do costs. Search similar roles across the country to benchmark salaries. With many jobs now being 'work from home' this may balance regions more.
Industry - Look at whether your sector is one of those currently struggling to find good workers. Industry publications, podcasts, and business news stories are great resources for this.
Vacancies - Assess demand by seeing how many companies are looking for employees like you on Monster. This will change based on the time of year, developments in the industry and politics, Check regularly to find the right moment to make the switch.
Experience - Senior roles are often only available to staff with several years of experience. Don’t sell yourself short. Identifying transferable skills from past jobs and education frames your true experience level.
Skills - Understand the value of your transferable skills. You might be a great worker in a struggling industry who would be in much higher demand in a growing sector.
Would you stay in your current job for different conditions? If so, it’s worth bargaining before you hand in your notice. Use specific examples that show your worth, along with clear, fair comparisons of jobs elsewhere to support your case. Think twice if your reason for leaving is more fundamental; Doing a job you resent for more money rarely pays off with satisfaction or happiness.
When negotiating with a potential new employer, wait until an offer’s on the table. You’ll be in a stronger position because you'll already know they want you on board. Next, weigh up the terms based on your research to see if they’re fair. They’ll usually have a salary range in mind and will have some room to negotiate. Salary is not the only consideration - flexibility and other perks may be on the table. As long as you’re realistic, there’s no harm in asking.
“Research can only tell you your market value - Your true worth lies in what you can negotiate”
Value Vs Values
Workers are often unhappy because of bad management. Being undervalued, feeling their work serves no bigger purpose or facing a clash of values are also common causes. Finding out about values and culture is an important part of making the correct move.A fresh start in a company you connect with could be all you need to put a spring in your step. When weighing up offers, remember that money isn’t everything. A new job with amazing working conditions, meaningful work & better culture will be more fulfilling. Job satisfaction might come from training & promotion opportunities. You might be happier with less pay but more work-life balance & a sense of community.
Draft the Letter
A good resignation letter will be short, professional and demonstrate good faith. Once it's submitted and accepted you can't take it back without the agreement of your employer. The purpose is to tell your employer in writing that you will be leaving the company, and when your leave date will be. If they have verbally offered something, such as gardening leave, mention this in the letter. This can protect you from any disputes down the line.
It can also help you leave on good terms: State that you intend to carry on with professionalism for the duration of your notice. It's also an opportunity to recognise and thank people who have supported you at the company. While it is good practice to say why you are leaving, you are not required to. If you don't want to thank your employer when resigning that’s fine.
Keep it short. Keep it polite. Keep it simple.
Resignation Letter Checklist
- Date and address
- Your job title and dept.
- Your manager's name
- Resignation date
- Reason for leaving
- Duration of notice
- Closing & Signature
Download our free guide How to Resign to see a sample letter.
Notice your Obligations
- In theory, all you have to do is formally tell your boss, then work any notice period.
- In practice, it's important to do so in a considerate, smooth and even productive manner.
Get it right and you’ll find there are lots of long-term benefits. You might find your boss is ready to make changes to keep you. This could mean you get a better deal without leaving - or even offered a different role within the company. In the long term getting a better deal now also puts you in a stronger position for future negotiations.
Many employers require more than one reference, and the more recent, the better. It’s great to have someone who’ll vouch for you when you need it. Good managers may even be glad to see you growing into a new opportunity they can't match. Your reputation always precedes you, especially in the social media age. You don’t want your old colleagues bad-mouthing you – it's much better to have them singing your praises. Don't burn bridges, even if it's tempting. A strong network is valuable. Leaving on good terms, helping your colleagues prepare for your departure, makes it more likely they’ll support you if you cross paths in the future. It could pay off in ways you can't see now.
Working your Notice
Every employment contract has a notice period. This is the amount of time you have to continue in your job after you’ve informed them you’re quitting. It’s there to give the company time to plan for life after you leave. Generally, the more valuable you are, the lengthier your notice period will be. That’s because it can take longer to find and train a person in a highly specialised job.
In some industries, it’s common to place an employee on ‘gardening leave’ when they move to a rival. You'll remain employed by your company, and get paid, but you can't work for them or join a new employer. It’s used to stop you taking contacts, clients or intellectual property with you when you leave.
‘Pay in lieu of notice’ usually applies in cases of redundancy, rather than resignation. This allows the company to pay your wages without you needing to come to work. It functions a little like gardening leave but is often used when it’s felt a worker is a disruptive presence. You can potentially negotiate this outcome even if your employer hasn't offered it, but that isn't common. They may agree if you’re going to work for a competitor.
Another tool in negotiating shorter notice is annual leave. Your employer has to pay you for any outstanding holidays. It’s not unusual to request that the leave be offset against your notice instead. So if you have a four week notice period and a week of holiday, you can ask to only work three weeks instead of getting the extra holiday pay - but your employer would have to agree.
When you’re negotiating a more complex situation your employer might look to draft a compromise agreement. This is a fresh legal document that redrafts the terms of your departure. In this case, be prepared to bring all of your arguments to the table. Show your employer how quickly you can train replacements. Be ready to trade in that extra holiday pay and even play up your value as a future contact if you can. As long as you don’t oversell yourself, it will help you get the notice period you need.
If you sign an official compromise agreement, you should expect to see a 'right to waiver' clause in there. This is the text that confirms you’re waiving some, or all, of your notice period, in exchange for the new terms you’ve agreed. You may wish to get advice before signing from a union representative, citizens advice bureau or lawyer.
Leaving a job is normally very straightforward, but there are some pitfalls to be aware of.
- Breach of Contract - A contract works both ways - if you can prove your employer has breached the agreement, and vice-versa, then all terms including notice periods are void.
- Summary Dismissal - If an employer is really upset by your leaving they may try to dismiss you without notice for gross misconduct. However, without a proper investigation and fair hearing, you may have a right to an employment tribunal to challenge their decision.
- Counter-Notice - If your employer dismisses you, you can still respond. After being fired you are within your rights to give counter-notice and leave at an earlier date than your notice period.
If in doubt, seek legal help or reach out to the Citizens Advice Bureau. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
NOTICE YOUR OBLIGATIONS - GLOSSARY
A specific amount of time stated in your contract. As it’s in the contract you signed,you can't ignore this or change it without agreement from your employer. It may vary with duration of employment so check the small print.
If your contract doesn’t specify a time frame, you only have to work for the government-set standard. This is the same for every contract that doesn’t specify a notice period – regardless of the industry or role. Statutory notice periods apply once you’ve been in a job for over a month. You are then required to give one week’s notice before leaving. Once you’ve been in the job for over two years, that rises to two weeks notice. Add another week for every year’s continuous employment after that. So three years = three weeks notice, four years = four weeks &c.
You may get offered gardening leave. This means you stay on the payroll for your notice period, but are to stay away from your workplace. This might be to restrict leaving employees from accessing confidential information. You will be paid and taxed in the usual way and will keep perks, benefits such as a phone or pension contribution.
PILON - 'Payment in Lieu of Notice'
This is an immediate payment of what you would have received for your notice period, but you are no longer an employee. This may be a fixed payment, or maybe negotiable. You might be willing to accept a smaller payment if you can leave immediately to start a new position.
Holiday in Notice
You can ask to take holiday in your notice period, but your employer doesn’t have to say yes. If you go on holiday, you are entitled to your normal wage. When you leave you will be paid for any unused holiday up to 28 days - this is Statutory Holiday Entitlement. Your employer can tell you to use up any holiday but they need to give you a couple of days notice for each day of the holiday. If they want you to take 5 days holiday they need to give you 10 days notice.
Pick Your Moment
Book in a specific appointment to speak with your manager in private. Don’t tell everyone in the office you’re thinking about or planning to resign. It’s disruptive, it’s rude and it won’t endear you to your manager. Remember, you’ve still got to stick around for at least your notice period. You have a reputation to maintain even after you've left.
Prepare for your meeting.
Start the process by arranging a private meeting with your manager. Use this chance to explain the situation, outlining why you’re thinking of leaving. You don’t have to say if you have a job offer. You certainly don’t have to tell them who any offer is from. If you’re open to negotiating the decision you may choose to reveal specific details. Your manager may ask for feedback on why you’re leaving. Again, you don’t have to answer. You do, however, have to weigh up how you respond. On the one hand, you want to be useful and constructive to maintain good relations. You don’t want to say too much and risk offending them.
The company may have an official 'exit-interview' process. This is an opportunity to give feedback. This can help the company improve, and benefit the colleagues you are leaving. Having a transition plan shows you have thought about their side of the situation too, and can make the process easier. If you have your letter prepared, you can hand it in. You don’t have to hand in your letter of resignation immediately. Feel free to ask for time to think if you need it.
Plan for Transition
Even if you are leaving on good terms, working your notice can feel awkward. Having a transition plan in place will make it easier for everyone. You may not be given new projects to work on, and you could have responsibilities taken away. In some cases, you may be required to train up a replacement in person. If you work with sensitive information or have close client relationships, your employer may choose to remove your access. This is a precautionary measure to prevent you from taking valuable clients or information to rivals. This is standard practice, so don't take it personally.Colleagues may be curious or feel awkward around you. The key things to remember are to remain professional and understanding. It’s the best way to maintain a good reputation.
Top Tip - Create a handover document.
Creating a handover a document to help someone pick up things is professional and good practice. Keep notes adding information as you work your notice: you might be surprised at the amount of information to pass on. Add logins, or log-in request details, for any systems you use. Give links to training or manuals. Put an update together on projects including known issues, deadlines and best contacts. You might negotiate your notice to coincide with an expected project end-date. Make sure any administrative tasks are up to date and share any critical information from emails in an accessible drive. If there are any accounts, services or invoices in your name move them to a colleague.
Time to Say Goodbye
If you have followed the advice here, there is no reason that saying goodbye needs to be painful. Breaking up doesn't have to be hard. Good companies know that people develop, situations change and sometimes we are presented with irresistible opportunities. If you are going to have a 'leaving do' resist the temptation to share any thoughts you have been bottling up - you don't want to undo the work you have put in protecting your reputation. If you have a new position lined up - search monster.co.uk for advice on how to shine from day one of your new job!
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