How to handle notice periods

Whether you’re leaving because you have found a different role, and have been offered your dream job, or you’re simply unhappy with where your career is taking you, the decision to hand in your notice can be a difficult one. Not only do you need to be conscious of your employers required notice period, you want to leave on good terms.  So how do you go about it?

What are the correct steps for handing in your notice?

First, you need to understand what a notice period is…

Typically, it is the period of time you are expected to work after you have told your boss of your intentions to leave. Now, the amount of notice you’ll need to give will depend on your circumstances and what was outlined in your contact.

For instance, some organisations require that you work one week for every year you were under their employment, meaning, if you’ve worked for them for 5 years, you would be expected to give 5 weeks’ notice. Others, prefer to give set notice periods of either 4 weeks or 8 weeks (which you can find in your contract).

Now, if you’re in a position where you have got access to backend systems or sensitive data; you may find that your employer asks you to take Garden Leave. In this situation, you would have to leave immediately and work your notice from home i.e. instead working 4 weeks in the office, they may ask you to take 4 weeks Garden Leave where you’re expected to stay at home and cannot start your new job until this period is over. If you’re really lucky, you may have an employer who is open to negotiating your notice period, allowing you to leave earlier. This happens rarely, as notice periods were originally designed to give employers time to find a replacement.

In other words, it is all at the discretion of your employer. For this reason, we suggest contacting HR to check out how much time you need to give.

How to hand in your notice
Once you know the length of time you’re expected to work, you’re now ready to begin the process of resigning.

The key is to make sure that you leave on good terms, so you can ensure a glowing reference. Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Put your resignation in writing – never do it verbally, but make it official by writing a letter;
  • Include all essential details in your letter – from your length of notice, last day of work, your manager’s name, the date of the letter and your signature;
  • Give your reasons for leaving – this should be written in a constructive and professional way (even if you’re leaving because you’re unhappy).  Remember to stay positive;
  • Thank your employer for the opportunities they have afforded you during your career;
  • Have the foresight to answer any questions they may have.

Once you have penned your letter, you will need to hand it in to either HR or directly to your boss. To help keep things positive and professional, we advise that you mention your intentions to leave in advance (during a meeting or conversation). This will ensure that it doesn’t come as a surprise.

Again, when you broach the subject, remember to be gracious, grateful and avoid any negative comments about your role or them. Instead, leave the bitterness behind and try to highlight what you have enjoyed (even if you haven’t liked your job as a whole). Likewise, you should remain cooperative and offer to help with the handover to the new employee. In other words, don’t burn your bridges.

The exit interview
Before you officially leave you’ll be asked to take part in an exit interview. Whilst it may feel awkward, it is necessary so don’t skip it. Instead, use it as a form of closure.

Tip 1: stay relaxed and remember it is an opportunity for them to learn about your experiences with the company.
Tip 2: bring a list to the meeting of everything that needs to be handed over, as well as any concerns that need to be addressed.

Leaving doesn’t have to be a scary experience – even if you’re leaving with no new job lined up. In fact, there are numerous online courses you can enrol onto that can act as a stepping stone for bolstering your credentials and improving your employability.

So if you’re leaving without having secured another job, then why not take a look at our online courses today? No matter your reasons for wanting to leave, it is possible to change the path of your career.

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