The word maybe modest but the hopes and concerns within its meaning are vast.
Knowing how to quit a job is not something that one is often taught. And granted, quitting a job may not be one of life’s Great Moments, but sometimes it is simply unavoidable.
Once upon a time, employment law was weighted towards employers’ governance of their workers, which allowed them to enforce strict contractual obligations.
But over the last 25 years in the UK, legal emphasis has shifted more to worker’s rights, including the implementations of the Minimum Wage, Working Time Regulations and Maternity Leave.
Today, an employee’s contract comprises, on the whole, a generous helping of self-determination.
As a result, quitting a job is now a relatively easy undertaking, although that is not to say that we should make a habit of quitting; it is just easier to do than it was in recent history.
There are many reasons why we may wish to quit our job but, whatever the causes of our changed perspective, we must make sure everything is in place (on our desks and in our minds) before setting in motion such a significant series of events. The key to quitting a job successfully is to be sure of a positive outcome… as long as you are happy and your boss is too, all is well.
We invite you to follow our simple guide and you should be able to quit without finding yourself shut out of future opportunities or stacking curios in a corner shop.
Why quit at all?
There are likely lots of reasons why you may be thinking about resigning.
And, as such, the prospect can be either unpleasant or exhilarating. But regardless of how you arrived at this point, finding yourself on the brink of such a decision is more often than not an unsettling experience.
It may be that the type of work you are doing is uninteresting, not challenging or insufficiently remunerated; job dis-satisfaction is one of the biggest reasons for people wanting to quit their current employer, according to The Telegraph in 2015.
Then again, perhaps the working environment you find yourself in is generally unpleasant.
Market Research firm OnePoll conducted a study in 2010 which revealed that around six million employees in the UK “hated the people they worked with”. Such widespread workplace unhappiness may stem from harassment, unwanted attention or general rudeness all of which stir feelings of disempowerment.
For others, home life can sharply influence their ability to stay employed; in such situations, quitting is almost unavoidable.
Personal or family sickness (especially long-term illness) obviously suppresses a worker’s capability and if you’re looking after a child and your employer is unable to make necessary changes to your working regimen you will be forced to look for more flexible hours.
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What problems might quitting bring?
There are some impacts after quitting work that you will likely be braced for.
Clearly, if you don’t have other work to go to, a lack of money is the biggest.
But even if you have already lined-up a new job, you should not rest on your laurels. It seems logical to immerse yourself as much as possible in a potentially new environment, even before your tenure begins.
Because if, on closer inspection, you discover the new world to be pretty much the same as the old, then why make the move at all?
Few people consider the following options before jumping ship, which can lead to instant regret:
- Speak at length to your prospective “new” employer
- Visit the premises where you will be working
- Meet with other members of staff (i.e. your potential future colleagues)
- Consider what flexibility of work there is and the salary and benefits
- Find out if there are ample possibilities of promotion or is it a place that champions a flat hierarchy, with no echelons or job titles? Such places can dull the sense of achievement as much as any other.
Putting yourself outside your comfort zone and executing just one or two of the ideas listed may result in a disastrous decision being avoided. The grass, as they say, is not always greener.
And what of those with nothing new on the horizon?
The general consensus is that a person looking for work will do so for around three to six months – and in some cases much longer.
If this is likely to be the circumstance facing you, it is strongly recommended you have some sort of financial contingency to help you through the fallow period, and this should be arranged prior to any notice of your existing position being served.
Bear in mind also that you may not be eligible for certain unemployment benefits if the State considers you have quit your job without good cause.
When honestly and accurately weighing up such cons against the pros of leaving, you may think it best to stay put for a while; at least until moving painlessly to another workplace becomes more likely.
Check company procedure for leaving
Aside from the obvious financial fall-out, leaving your job often brings about other, more subtlety negative consequences that are often overlooked.
For leaving your employer in the wrong manner can damage your reputation, labelling you as unreliable or too transient for re-employment.
To avoid your decision back-firing in this way you should follow company procedures to the letter.
By doing so, even if things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to, you will have shown a respect for rules and for the people still working in the place you are leaving behind.
If you are intrinsic to a project or involved in long-term strategies with a high degree of responsibility, ensure a contingency strategy is put in place for your departure and create time to execute a hand-over process in the notice period you are obliged to serve.
With this in mind, don’t forget to find in your contract of employment a clause which outlines how much notice an employee is required to give. If nothing is stated or there is no contract then a minimum of two weeks’ notice is considered by most to be a reasonable period of time.
Bear in mind that your involvement in long-term projects may mean your notice period is longer.
Importantly, only give notice when your mind is fully made up and you are ready to leave.
Most employment experts err against announcing an intention too early on. By pre-empting your quitting you can generate unnecessary workplace tension.
You may even find that your employer pre-empts your decision and saves you the trouble of writing a letter of resignation!
Broach the subject of quitting with your employer
Perhaps the most difficult part of quitting a job is announcing your intention to your employer.
This will be especially hard if you have, up until now, enjoyed a healthy relationship with them.
Nevertheless, there are various ways to “sweeten the deal” and if you approach the meeting in the right frame of mind you may both leave the boardroom unbruised.
Key to this is staying positive when you talk to your boss about quitting.
You don’t need to give them a blow-by-blow account of your reasons for leaving but it is worth being honest. Explain that you have found a new job and what virtues of it have tempted you away from your current role.
If applicable, explain candidly that you are leaving to look after an elderly or infirm relative/friend.
What should be avoided is the temptation to talk frankly about other employees or failures in the system of work (of which your boss is ultimately responsible).
Even though you may be asked to be perfectly honest and you find comfort in the one-on-one conversation, this type of information should not be divulged.
Here are some of the things we think would be beneficial to say to your employer which help to balance out the negative impact of the phrase, “I quit”:
- Promise to help with the induction and training of your replacement
- Ask what you can do to help things go smoothly as your last day looms
- Give your boss a list of what your work entails
- If possible, reveal what plans or structure you have for ongoing projects
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Write a formal letter of resignation
Again, check your company’s policy on letters of resignation. Some employers won’t need you to write a letter, although it is general considered good form to do so anyway.
The letter of resignation is, after all, a paper trail (the real meat of the situation was earlier chewed with your boss) and a formality to notify other members of staff and departments such as Human Resources.
The letter should be succinct (that is, including only the most essential details). It should also be professional, polite and ideally include a phrase thanking your employer for the opportunities you were given over the period of time you worked for them.
There are dozens of online templates of resignation letters but here is one that takes a little from all of them, and is simple yet to the point…
Resignation Letter Example
Dear [Name of Recipient],
I am writing to notify you of my resignation from my role as [job title] with [company name].
Since my contract states that I must give [amount of time specified] notice, I would ideally like my last day to be [date]. I have been offered the role of [role] [or: I am moving on to pursue [career]].
Thank you for the opportunities for professional and personal development given to me during my time with [company name]. I have enjoyed working for you and appreciate the support provided.
In the lead up to my departure, I will hand over details of all of my current responsibilities and assist in any way I can with the transition. I wish you and [company name] all the best for the future.
Your last day
When the quitting process is at an end and you arrive at work for the last time, you must avoid the temptation to view the moment as something akin to the last day of Sixth Form.
Undoing a moment – one you’ve worked towards meticulously – can happen all too easily by engaging in excessive complaints about management and / or other colleagues, being mean-spirited, acting foolishly and being rude to people.
Flipping the bird and shouting, “So long, losers!” as you storm from the building will ensure burnt bridges and bare-wall references!
Quitting your job is a delicate act: one which, when done correctly, will give you an enlightened sense of freedom.
But, as with many things in life, polite acknowledgement of those who have supported you, trained you or even simply bought you a lunchtime sandwich will reap future reward.
Try to leave others with a lasting impression of you having been a worthwhile employee, level-headed and respectful of company authority and procedures.
Importantly, be someone worth keeping in touch with.
Having left in such a positive manner, you’ll avoid any feelings of negativity or regret, allowing you to harness an optimistic and engaged mindset as you head into your new venture.
So there you have it – our complete guide on how to quit a job.
Please do contact us if you have any feedback or comments, or simply want to share your personal experience of quitting a job.