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How to Hand in Your Notice

Once you’ve decided to move on from your current job and you’re ready to hand in your notice, you need to do this in a thoughtful and considered way to ensure you retain your reputation with your current employer and peer group. Regardless of whether you’re feeling torn about leaving or simply cannot wait to get on your way, you need to remain professional as you never know when you might need a reference or even work for the Company (or manager) again.

People say the world is a small place, and at CHASE we know that this is very true of the UK Pharma and Healthcare industries. As the UK Pharma’s biggest permanent and fastest growing Contract Sales Organisation, we have exceptional insight into the best way to hand in your notice.

1. Take one last look at what you’re about to do

After the stress of the job interview, assessment processes and the euphoria and ‘honour’ of being selected as the chosen one, it’s pretty difficult to be objective one last time about why you’re doing what you’re doing. But you must find a way, even at the end.

Force yourself to write down a list of all the reasons why you want the new job, (without mentioning all the reasons you do not want your current job) and counter balance them with the downsides of changing jobs. Once you’ve done this talk them through with a friend or loved one and ask them to really challenge you on these reasons to make sure you’re being really objective. Then, go to sleep and see how you feel in the morning.

If you’re still excited then you know what to do – if not then you need to talk this through again and ask yourself what the potential concerns are. You can always revisit them with your recruitment consultant if you’re having doubts. This is your life so don’t feel obliged to do anything that’s not right for you.

2. Never hand in your notice until you have received a written offer

Whilst the temptation may be to resign when you get a verbal offer, never do so until you have received an offer letter and contract of employment from your new employer. To do would leave yourself at risk. Whilst it is rare for verbal offers to be retracted it can happen (e.g. a global recruitment freeze is imposed just before your offer is formally issued).

You can ask the Company to email you the information as that can speed up the process. When you receive the written offer read it carefully and go back quickly with any questions before resigning. Now is the time for clarification and questions on contractual matters – not after you’ve started. Once you’re happy, sign on the dotted line and now it’s time to hand in your resignation.

3. Get to work on your letter of resignation

In your letter you don’t need to go into too much detail, other than to formally offer your resignation and perhaps make mention of how this has been a difficult decision and how much you’ve enjoyed your time at Company X.

It’s also really important to be clear about when your ideal last day will be, and try and deliver a proper handover for your current employer.

If you do have annual leave left to take discuss with your current employer what your options are and come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. Whatever your situation your notice period is contractually binding, so stay professional to the end.

4. Talk it through – ideally face to face

Even if you’re 100% sure you’re leaving, where possible you should give your employer (and especially your manager) the chance to discuss your decision and motivations behind it.

This will often be a tricky conversation, but it is important to do these things properly as one day there’s a chance you’ll cross paths again or even need a reference.

During this meeting it’s important you prepare well and go into it with a clear logical set of thoughts. You should also refrain from mentioning anything negative that could prove to be destructive further down the line.

5. Dealing with a counter offer

If you’ve been a star performer over a number of years, you might find that you get a counter offer of either more money or job enlargement. If this does happen you should carefully consider everything one more time before officially signing off.

If the counter offer suddenly plugs a major gap in your reasoning for taking the new job then you should most definitely agree to think about the counter offer and discuss it with a trusted friend.

If on the other hand the counter offer is ‘a bit more money’ or a ‘promise you’re next in line for a promotion’ then these things might not truly give you what you’re looking for. Sure it’s great if the company is prepared to fight to keep you, however don’t get caught up in the flattery. You can only work with what you’ve got in writing.

Whatever happens do not make decisions in the moment. Ask for time to think about the counter offer and if you decide to turn it down make sure you once again explain your reasoning and thank them for their efforts to keep you.

6. Create a solid handover plan

As soon as your resignation has been accepted the next step is to start putting a handover plan in place. You should do this by bringing a list of tasks, projects and initiatives to the table and asking your manager what they would like you to do with them.

Reinforce your commitment to doing what it takes to give them all of the information they need to pass onto your replacement, including being willing to take phone calls or emails after you’ve left to clarify any outstanding issues or concerns.

Make sure you document everything that’s being asked of you in a single email to your manager and ask them if there’s anything missing. Then get to work collating the required information and sending it over to your manager for feedback and approval.

7. What if you get put on ‘Gardening’ leave

For those of you who are moving to a competitor there’s a chance you might be asked to go on Gardening Leave – i.e. see out your notice without doing any more work.

If this happens to you you’re still going to need to provide a hand over of some description and possibly be available at short notice to meet up with your manager or company representative.

In these circumstances use the time to recharge your batteries and get your head into a really positive frame of mind about how successful you’re going to be in your next job.

You might also want to take on a small project such as training for a running event or giving one of your rooms at home a make-over. Either way don’t waste your time. It’s not often in your lifetime you’ll get to have several weeks of time being paid for very little work!

8. Follow up before you start your new job

The last piece of advice I have to give is that whatever the circumstances you’re leaving under you should definitely follow up with your current manager and team mates once last time prior to starting your new job.

This is your final chance to tie up loose ends, gather people’s contact details for the future and agree to keep in touch.

When you do speak to them keep positive about your reasons for leaving and hand over work with pride, and in a clear and professional manner.

If you’d like to arrange a confidential discussion to explore your career options, please email your CV over to or call us on 0131 553 6644 and we can take it from there.

Kirstie Justice
Senior Recruitment Consultant; East & West Midlands inc. Northampton