Handing in your notice is not as easy as it seems. Many people find it difficult to hand in their notice. It can be very uncomfortable, and some get very nervous about the whole process. Leaving your current organization goes beyond just writing a simple letter. So, what should you actually do when it comes time to let your current employer know you are leaving?

Make sure you are making the right decision

First things first. Are you actually leaving for the right reasons? Is handing in your notice a reaction to your boss having one bad day after 4 years of being a great mentor, or is it because you have secured your dream job? Handing in your notice is a big decision, so you have to be sure. If you are 100% certain that moving on is the best thing for you and your career, then you should do it. But it is important to leave on good terms, even if you think your company and boss are absolute idiots.

Writing your resignation letter

Here is the good news, your resignation letter does not have to be long. It does not have to be on headed paper. It does not even need to be a formal letter; it can be a simple email. The tone of the message should of course be formal and professional though.

You should start the letter with a simple address to your boss. This can be “Dear xxx” or simply “xxx” depending on the formality of your relationship and the culture of your company. If in doubt go for the more formal “Dear xxx”. Then you just need to follow this up with a simple statement announcing your intention to leave. Something along the lines of “Please consider this my notice of resignation. As per my contract of employment, I have to provide xxx days/months’ notice, so my final day of employment will be xxx”.

You should then add a few lines to thank your employer for your time with them. Again, this does not need to be overly complicated and can be as simple as “I would like to take this moment to thank you and company name for all of the support and opportunities I have been provided. I hope we get the opportunity to work together again in future”. You should say something like this, even if you do not mean it. Its always good to ensure you leave on amicable terms.

Send this to your employer

Once you have written this, you should email it to your employer. The reason you should email it, is so that it is formally documented. While most employers are professional, there are also a number that are not. So, if you have not documented that you have formally submitted your resignation, they could fire you and claim they do not need to pay your notice, or any other outstanding entitlement. Employers have also been known to put pressure on employees to either finish earlier or even stay longer. By sending the email, there is proof that you have resigned, and it is clearly documented that your last day is as per your letter. Again, this is rare, but there are horror stories of unprofessional managers, HR and companies that do not handle this scenario well. So, it is better to protect yourself.

Prepare for any outcome

It is so hard to predict how a boss will respond when you hand in your notice. There are countless stories of a great boss, that reacts very negatively and takes it personally. But also, the reverse, awful bosses who show compassion and make the transition as easy and painless as possible. So, you need to sit down and think about what you would do in any potential outcome.

What would you do if they matched your offer or bettered it elsewhere? Would you accept the counteroffer, or still turn it down? My personal view on this is that you should never accept a counteroffer, I’ve written another article on this topic, but what would you personally do? Would you be OK with reducing your notice period, maybe this means you can start your new job sooner? Maybe you are willing to stay longer, to help ensure they have found a suitable replacement before moving on?

Finally, you must remember to stand by your convictions. If you did the first point of this article well and made sure you were making the right decision. Then you know that regardless of any potential reaction or offer, leaving is the right decision for you.