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How to Resign

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Whether you’re feeling sad about moving on, or if you’ve been dreaming of handing in your notice for years, it can be surprisingly difficult when the time comes to resign from your current employer.

Having worked in recruitment for over 15 years, I have guided many candidates through the resignation process, so if you’ve just received and accepted a verbal job offer from a new employer and are wondering what to do next, here are my top tips when it comes to resigning in the right way.

Before you resign

Don’t do anything until you’ve received the offer in writing from your new employer

A verbal offer of employment means nothing until it has been confirmed in writing so always wait to receive the written contract before you approach your current employer.

Once you have received the contract, make sure you acknowledge receipt with the employer. Let them know you will read through it and get back to them.

If working with an agency, then also let your consultant know you’ve received the offer and if you have any queries.

Read the offer letter and contract thoroughly

This is your official contract of employment so it’s extremely important that you take the time to read it thoroughly and check that you are happy with everything. Your agency won’t see your contract so it’s your responsibility to read it.

If you have questions or concerns, let your Recruiter know and they can liaise with the employer on your behalf if necessary.

Respond promptly

When you receive the written contract there will be a deadline before which you need to respond. Make sure you stick to this, otherwise the offer could get withdrawn.

Only resign once you have completed all the steps above and have signed and returned the contract.

Background checks

Usually, your offer of employment will be conditional on the basis of successful background and reference checks being completed. Employers won’t start background checks until they have received the signed contract from the candidate. They will then ask you for permission to contact your referees and will request additional information such as proof of eligibility to work in the UK, proof of address, copies of academic achievements etc.

Should you resign before or after the background checks?

The majority of clients will want the candidate to resign from their current employer as soon as they have signed the contract and will carry out background checks while the candidate is working their notice.  

If you’re confident you can provide all the information required and that there’s no reason you wouldn’t pass these checks then it is advisable to resign as soon as possible after signing and returning the written contract.

However, if you have any concerns about the background checks, it might be better to wait. Ask your consultant for advice, flag any concerns with them and they will be best placed to advise you.

Read more about preparing your CV for a background check here >

Handing in your resignation

It can be daunting to resign but keep in mind the reasons why you wanted to leave in the first place.

Resign to your line manager

It is considered best practice (and common courtesy) to resign to your line Manager first before going to HR and this should be done in person whenever possible. If this is not possible, a phone call is your next best option.

It is important to be professional and take the emotion out of the process. Keep it brief e.g. “Thank you for the opportunity, I’ve thought long and hard and have decided it’s the right time to move on…”

It’s never nice resigning but remember that it happens all the time. If you’re worried about the best way to approach this, you can always ask your consultant for advice.

During the meeting, you should discuss and agree on your end date based on the required company notice period and your personal situation. You will need to include the agreed end date in your resignation letter to ensure it is accurately documented and there is no opportunity for confusion closer to the time.

Once you have given verbal notice, you should promptly send through written notice of your resignation.

Dealing with counter offers

Sometimes you may receive a counteroffer from your employer – often this is a knee-jerk reaction on their part. This can be flattering but remember your reasons for leaving in the first place, usually, it’s not just about the salary.  

If you receive a counteroffer, be firm in your response e.g. “Thank you but I’m not open to discussion, this is the right time to move on.”Don’t dither or give your employer false hope as it can just make the situation even more awkward and wastes everyone’s time. Read more about counter offers here >

Following your resignation

Work your notice period

Whatever the length of your notice period, it is highly recommended that you serve it out to the best of your ability to ensure you are remembered in a positive light.

During this time, you should continue to deliver high-quality work and meet deadlines, and be committed to completing handover notes and up-skilling your replacement.

It’s a small world and you will want a good reference, after all.

Exit interviews

Most employers will have an exit interview. This is your opportunity to give constructive feedback but always remain professional. Don’t be overly negative or use it as a moaning session.

Asking for references

It is standard for HR to give you a reference, but you can also ask for a personal reference from a Manager or colleague if you wish. 

Final thoughts

Moving on from a job or company can be a time of apprehension and an emotional rollercoaster. While you may feel nervous about leaving the familiarity of your current role, remember to focus on the positive opportunity you have been offered with your new company.  Don’t feel guilty for leaving, the company will survive without you.

Look ahead to your new opportunity, complete with fresh challenges and all the excitement that goes with the start of any new journey.

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