In the know

Instinct blog

Latest articles
Back to Blog list

Handing in your notice - How to do it and what to look out for

Handing in your resignation letter, at first thought, can seem either nerve-racking or deeply satisfying, depending upon your employment experience.

The majority of people will resonate with the former and less with the latter, however, it’s for those of you that fantasise about handing over your letter of resignation to realise that the ‘I QUIT’ moment you’re dreaming of doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) really exist. There are simply too many processes in place, and for good reason.

Whilst your words are seemingly armoured with the protection of immunity, due to the fact that you’re ‘going to leave anyway’, know that this protection is temporary and short-lived. Not to say that the recipient of your honest bombardment is going to do anything malicious in response or is even undeserving of such vocabulary, but, if you haven’t won the lottery and are intending on moving jobs, you’re going to need them.

The majority of employers will contact at least one of your previous line managers for a reference and in order to secure employment, it would be wise if that reference was indeed referring to your good work as an employee, and not your behaviour towards the end. Besides this, providing that you’re parting ways from the company in accordance with your contract, you’ll have to keep working with that person for the duration of your notice period which, is on average, 30 days. Awkward.

So, let’s do it the right way. 

Firstly, you should take a minute to reflect upon your achievements of successfully presenting your capabilities and skillsets to a new, prospective employer. It’s hard work and for many is a completely life-changing event. So good on you for chasing progression and self-development.

Now there is just the little hurdle of actually handing in your letter of resignation to your current manager. As mentioned this can be nerve-racking, however, with a little preparation, much of the anchoring emotion can be removed from the situation.


Be prepared


The preparation isn’t too difficult or indeed any great amount of work. Have your notice letter printed and signed by yourself, outlining your decision to part ways with the company. Include a proposed end date, in line with your contractual notice period. Easy.


Grasp the first opportunity


There’s little point in waiting around all day, pondering the best time and opportunity - just take point and speak with your manager at the first available time, preferably in the morning. They will appreciate the straight-forward and direct approach.


Be succinct


Ensure that you enter the meeting with a clear, precise explanation of your decision to part ways with the company. Support this with the exact reasons that lead you to come to this decision and don’t be afraid to be a little blunt, if necessary. Hold your ground and leave little room for discussion and leave no room for negotiation. 


Keep it professional


Avoid getting drawn into any unnecessary drama referring to either personal issues or previous experiences within the workplace. Remember, this is a calculated decision that you made about your future to strategically improve your career. This isn’t an opportunity to emotionally vent - you can always do that at home to your partner, your family or friends, your cat or dog. They will listen.


Agree further actions


Ensure to get confirmation there and then that your signed letter of resignation has been accepted. If possible, attain an agreed end date (final working day) or at least of when you will be notified of this information. 


The Counter Offer

These days, the counter-offer or ‘buy-back’ as it’s often referred to, is a factual and all too common occurrence. It will most likely happen shortly after you’ve handed in your notice, you just need to know what to expect and how to handle the situation, should it arrive. 

It could come tied to a variety of incentives or perceived negative connotations, such as:

  • More money (this being the most common approach)

  • A promotion, offering more responsibility or a modified reporting structure

  • Greater flexibility (such as work from home options)

  • Shares/equity in the business

  • A “confidential” pitch on the “exciting new developments happening this year”

  • Promises of future considerations for promotions or reward schemes

  • Disparaging remarks towards your new employer or role

  • Guilt-tripping dialogue in reference to “abandoning” you’re colleagues and friends

Remember your training, so to speak, and keep in mind the reasons that lead you to the definitive decision in the first place. Your goal is most likely personal and professional progression and the best thing is that, at this point, the hard work is done. You have already secured a fantastic and hopefully exciting new role and so you owe it to both yourself and your prospective employer to see it out and go ahead with your decision.

Consider the following before committing to a back-and-forth negotiation regarding your future and your happiness: 


Moving on was the only way to get a significant increase in pay


Notice how you become more valuable once you’ve handed in your resignation letter? It's worth considering why you weren't offered a justified increase in pay before now. There may be legitimate business reasons, however, those reasons are still holding you back. It’s conveniently easier and cheaper for your current employer to put forward some small incentives to keep you on board.


Things won’t change


The phrase “a leopard never changes its spots” comes to mind when dealing with the workplace. All of those frustrations, stifling feelings and ongoing dissatisfactions will still be there, even with a new job title and a few extra quid in your bank account. It’s a harsh reality but one that must be kept at the forefront of your mind and taken into account when making definitive decisions about your life and future. 


Where has this new position suddenly come from?


Don’t be too glamoured by the prospect of new titles and tweaked responsibilities. Unless you are being offered a promotion to an existing position, then you should question how they came up with such a job description so quickly. Chances are if these prospects didn’t exist before your revelation of parting ways with the company, they still don’t. There’s always a risk element involved when taking on a newly created role, but that risk could be somewhat increased under such circumstances.  


How safe is your job?


By all means and rights, your decision to resign and chase career development should never impact the way an employer behaves towards you, should you decide to accept the counter offer. The fact is, people, more often make emotion-based decisions rather than calculated ones and if an individual feels personally offended at your previous flirtation attempts with another business, they may have your name on the tip of their tongue when redundancies are lingering in the air. 


You’ve already accepted an offer


By virtue of hiring you, your prospective new employer has already demonstrated a strong belief in you and your capabilities to be of great value to their team, and you haven’t even had your first day yet. Additionally, it would be less than great practice to be leading an organisation on by accepting an offer, encouraging them to end their search, allowing them to put procedures in motion (contract write-up, payroll, pension plans, bonus schemes etc) only to then let them down at the last minute. It would be a reflection of your character and in 9 months time, when 4 out of 5 people who have accepted a counter offer, leave their jobs anyway, you could be left with one less solid employment option (if you find yourself in the same position).

So, don’t be too flattered to the point of staying put and putting your aspirations on hold. Remember what made you want to better yourself and improve your circumstances in the first place. Always give serious thought and consideration to moving jobs before you begin the process - you’ll thank yourself for being decisive from the start.