2 Sep 2011

Handing in your notice…

Should be a simple enough thing to do really but it may not always feel like this.  You’ve landed the job of your dreams but before you can really start to count the days, you need to have a conversation with your current boss to tell him/her that you are leaving.

In most organisations you’ll have a contract stating your contractual notice period, for the majority of people this is a month or four weeks.  From this you can calculate your leaving date, deducting any holidays you are due but haven’t taken.

In preparation for chatting to your boss, always take along a brief written letter of resignation which should simply state that you are leaving the business and your planned leaving date.  There is no need to write anything flowery or emotional, just a simple statement.  This is not the time to list all your frustrations with your current employer – after all, you’re off to pastures new.

Usually, it’s best to hand your notice in first thing in the morning – just to get it out of the way.  If you are worried about it, there is no point in stewing about it all day.

In the ideal situation your boss will be happy for you and be grateful for the contribution you have made to the business.  Most bosses are only human and will understand that it’s natural for you to want to progress in your career and to develop your skills.  It’s pretty unusual these days to be in one job for life.

Occasionally, your boss may not be quite so understanding….you may be leaving to go to a client or even a competitor.  It’s useful to check over your contract to ensure that you don’t have any restrictions here.  If you do, I’d recommend taking some legal advice to understand the extent of the restriction – it may not stop you if your role, location or client mix are different.  Whilst non compete clauses are rarely upheld for individuals at a junior or mid manager level, they are more restrictive for seniors.

If your boss does have a problem with you leaving to go to a client or competitor, they may suggest that you go on gardening leave.  Effectively this is where you leave immediately but are still employed during your notice period (so you will be paid including all your benefits – e.g. keep your car and phone etc). The idea is to place a gap between your old and new roles to lessen the chance of you poaching, client accounts or other staff.  Theoretically, you should not start your new job until the gardening period is finished.  You can, if you want, spend your time physically gardening but there are probably better things for you to do with the time!

If you have a longer notice period, you may want to try and negotiate this down – particularly if your new employer is keen to get you on board.  For most employers, any flexibility will depend on how easy it is going to be for them to replace you and to ensure there is minimal impact to clients and delivery of campaigns that you are managing.  Offer to make every effort to ensure a smooth hand over as a quid pro quo if they reduce the period.

Top tips:

Don’t hand in your notice until you have a offer letter in writing from the new employer.

Do get a written reference from your current employer.  On company letterhead and signed.  Will be useful in the future.

Be professional.  Always try to leave on good terms.  It’s a small world and you never know when you might bump into people again.

Enjoy your leaving drinks!