Careers advice: handing in your notice

Published on: 16 May 2014


Handing in your notice can be an awkward and tricky time, but it’s one of those things in life that has to be done at one time or another.

Before you hand in your notice, think about your reasons for doing so. Is it to do with money or progression? Do you have an issue with a colleague? Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with projects and other work?

Ask yourself if you can talk to anyone about the issue first – this could alleviate further stress down the line. However, if you decide you do need a fresh start, or are committed to making a move, then keep on reading…

Face-to-face or via email? We would always recommend face-to-face. Would you break up with someone over email? Quite simply it is the more respectable thing to do, given that you have worked with your employers for a certain period of time. Over email it could be very awkward and dismissive – do you want your boss looking up over their computer screen, having read your email, to see you sat there having not said a word? A lot of unnecessary stress can be caused by this: Did they get the email? Did you send it to the right person? Just pull them aside, or book in a time to have a “chat”.  TALK to them – it’s not easy but they will respect you for telling them to their face, and then hand over your letter.

How much detail do I go into? This is completely up to you – don’t feel you have to give reasons unless you want to. However, if it’s appropriate – stick to the facts and keep it relevant. Constructive criticism is the best way to represent your thoughts, so be assertive and mention the good points of your employment too. Think of your reference – it is illegal for someone to give you a bad reference but a gleaming reference is better than a one-liner!

Counter-offers? In today’s market these can be quite common regardless of recent reviews. For smaller firms, this may be related to the cultural fit and retaining staff, and for larger firms they can often afford to pay more money. Either way, if you’re handing your notice in then the move should be for the “right” reasons as opposed to money upon leaving. How would you feel if you broke up with your other half and were then confronted with their evolving into the “perfect partner” because you tried to leave? Know your worth – speaking with a recruitment agency can help as they are able to advise you of the market rate and how close to this you are. Bidding wars are never a good start to a new job, so our recommendation is to stick with your gut, as you might find yourself in the same unhappy situation a few months down the line. Of the professionals who accepted their counter offer in a recent survey, a massive 93 per cent of those left within 18 months (Wall Street Journal).

Dealing with the stress? Be positive, think long term. You are handing your notice in for a reason with a view to a progressive move, so unfortunately this is a case of getting it done and out the way. You will feel like a huge weight has been lifted once it’s over. Remember – employers have to deal with this all the time. You are not the first person to hand in your notice, and you certainly won’t be the last. Even your employer handed their notice once!

Hopefully this will help when you have to move, and make the process slightly easier to handle!

(pic Dplanet via flickr)

By Richard Harris, Kate Peers-McQueen and Lauren Edwards at Oyster Partnership