A record number of workers have quit their jobs in what has been dubbed the “Great Resignation”, as employees have searched for better pay and more flexible working.
More than one million Britons left one job for another over the summer, according to official figures. But those yet to hand in their notice and make the leap should be careful not to make any faux pas that could ruin their move.
Telegraph Money has six tips to ensure your professional reputation is kept intact and you leave on the best terms possible.
Check your current contract
Before determining a start date with a prospective employer, you should read through your current contract to double check your notice period. This can vary depending on how long you have been with the company.
There is still time to reassess your decision at this stage so it is important not to make a rushed decision and ask yourself some questions about why you are looking to move:
- What are your motivations for leaving?
- What would you be giving up by quitting?
- Can you afford to leave?
Wait until you have signed your new contract
Jumping the gun and handing your notice in before receiving your new contract is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It is crucial to read through and sign the contract before you make your current employer aware of your intention to leave.
There is a risk that you may not agree with the details of the contract, or that your new employer has a change of heart and withdraws the offer. Legally, the new employer is not bound to take you on until you have both signed a notice of employment. A verbal offer will not be enough to secure the position.
Once you have signed the contract and sent it back, the offer is likely to be conditional on background and reference checks. Your new employer should ask for permission to get in touch with your referees once you have confirmed that you will be taking on the role. This means that you need to be prepared to hand in your notice shortly after signing the contract.
Set up a meeting with your current boss
A formal resignation requires you to send a letter, or an online copy of it, to your HR department. However, it is considered more respectful to tell your manager first. Do not tell any of your coworkers beforehand.
You should set up a meeting with your line manager at a suitable time and hand them a copy of the letter while giving them the reasons for your decision. In the letter, you should make it clear that you are resigning, provide an effective date, a show of gratitude and provide a short reason.
If possible, you should leave on good terms to maintain your professional reputation, which involves being honest with your current employer.
Be prepared for a counter offer
Even before breaking the news to your boss you should consider how you would react if they tried to keep you.
There is a chance your boss will make a counter offer, for more money or greater responsibility if they value your work and want you to stay with the team.
Be ready to work your notice period
Notice periods can vary hugely depending on your employer, industry and how long you have been in the role. You should be prepared to maintain a professional standard throughout your notice period, no matter how long.
If you are going to a direct competitor, there is a chance that your employer could place you on gardening leave, in which case you will not have to work for the remainder of your notice.
It is courteous to offer to help train another employee if you overlap with the person taking on your job.
Check your holiday record
There is a chance you may have to pay your employer back if you have taken too many holiday days relative to the number of months you have worked that year so far. In most jobs in Britain you accrue holiday days each month, so if you resign halfway through the year but have taken most of your annual leave then you are likely to owe your employer money.
Check your contract to see if this is in writing. If it is not, then there is a chance your employer does not have the legal right to deduct money from your final pay.