What to Say When Handing In Your Notice: 4 Top Tips

So, you have decided you are ready for a new job. You’re not alone, a study revealed that 60% of workers have quit or are considering quitting their jobs right now… So how do you make a smooth transition from your current job into your next? Read on to learn more about ‘resignation best practice’ and to find out exactly what to say when handing in your notice.

How to hand in your notice

First things first, make sure you have established your main reasons for wanting to leave your organisation. Have you outgrown your current role and/or have no opportunity for progression? Or are you feeling worn down by toxic relationships? Whatever the reason, make sure your new role is delivering where your current role is lacking.

Let’s assume there’s no going back, you’re definitely resigning and your mind’s made up. You’ve already updated your CV, perhaps met with a recruiter, and have impressed your way through the interview process… then Eureka!… You’ve landed yourself your dream role.

Surely that’s the hard work over and done with right?!!

WRONG! The next part is often the most difficult. It’s now time to hand in your notice and, if possible, do it without burning bridges and leaving on a bad note. So, here are four top tips for handing in your notice with grace…

1. Be strategic with your timing

Before speaking with your Manager, make sure you have read through your employment contract. Find out what notice period you are on and where you stand legally in regards to annual leave. Some companies will put you on Garden leave (where they pay you to work your notice but don’t require you to be in the office), others will let you go early if requested and some will want you to work your notice through to the end. Remember, you moving on won’t just leave a gap in your workload; it will also create more work for your colleagues who might be tasked with recruiting your backfill. Therefore, if your employer asks you to work your notice period, then it’s best for future relationships to honour their wishes. I am sure it will also show your new employer your strong values.

Candidates often ask ‘when is the best time to hand in my resignation?’ Well from the conversations we’ve had with managers, they often say they prefer when an employee tells them at the start of the day. It shows confidence, consideration, plus let’s face it, how much work are you really going to get done that day knowing you will be ending it with a difficult conversation? You will be distracted with thoughts of the impending chat. So just get it done! You will feel better and your manager will have the day to digest it rather than potentially sending them into their evening with any fresh negativity.

2. Honesty is the best policy   

You know why you are looking to leave, however, your manager may not! So what do you say when you resign? Make sure, before going to the meeting, that you’re clear about why the new role is more suitable for you. It could be the money, location, progression, scope of work, the list goes on

During the meeting, be as tactful as possible to avoid it feeling like an attack on your current company. Always be sure to run through the reasons with your manager before you share your plans to leave with your colleagues. If your boss finds out you want to resign through the grapevine, it won’t give a great impression and could adversely affect the references process.

Point out all of the positives of your current role but then follow with the things that make the new one different and slightly more suitable. If it was a head-hunt; – tell them. If you took days to deliberate as you were unsure if you wanted to leave; – tell them. Cover off all the relevant things that help convey that taking this new opportunity is about career or personal gain, and not about you hating your current role. This will go towards protecting their feelings and often shape how the next few days, weeks or months go while you work out your notice.

3. Don’t get caught up in the emotions

It is possible that you really like your manager; they could be the one you enjoy a Friday drink with or the person you natter with about life’s problems. It could be that you actually don’t like them at all and that they are the reason you are leaving. Either way, it is essential that you don’t let these emotions prevent you from having the conversation. Facts over feelings!

When preparing for this meeting, it’s useful to consider what your manager will say before you go in. We often talk with candidates throughout the recruitment process, about what their boss will say during the resignation conversation. By facing up to this early on, it will allow you to prepare for any respective emotions and will better equip you to deal with feeling guilty, dazzled or even manipulated into taking a counter-offer. Let’s face it, in a candidate-driven market most employers are going to try and counter-offer good talent. Don’t forget your reasons for deciding to take the new job in the first place.

4. Get the writing right

Some people write the resignation letter prior to the meeting and some do it afterward. Our advice is to get it done before. The content of this letter is really about you formally confirming your intention to leave, so it goes on record and won’t delay your leave date. The rest of the process of confirming your leave date can come afterward.

It’s always worthwhile printing a signed copy of the letter to give AFTER the meeting and also following up with an email to protect you from those ‘lost’ letters. When handing in your notice, some people will tell you to take the letter into the meeting. However, that is likely to cause immediate suspicion and might start the conversation off on the wrong foot. Tact is everything! 

Your employer may also want to invite you to take part in an exit interview with members of the management team. Additionally, it’s likely you will be invited to have a follow-up discussion regarding your handover. The aim of this meeting will be to tie up loose ends and possibly mentor the person who would be taking over your responsibilities. The last thing you want to do is leave on a bad note just because you haven’t handled the situation with the care and grace it requires.

Summary: Handing in your notice

In summary, the key to handing your notice in gracefully is about being honest, sincere and just getting it done. It’s never going to be an easy conversation. Overthinking it will probably lead to you going through too many scenarios in your mind and scaring yourself, when often many of these situations won’t actually play out. Do it as soon, quickly and painlessly as possible by knowing how and what to say. However, even if you’re eager to get it done, handing in your notice before you have a formal written contract from your new employer could leave you regretful. Once notice has been given, you can’t take it back without your current employer agreeing.

Hopefully, you also have a great recruiter who is supporting you throughout the process and who you can sense-check scenarios with and ask for guidance on how best to deal with any issues you’re worried about. If they have worked with you in partnership then they will know your reasons for taking the new role, know you and your relationship with your boss. They, therefore, are in the perfect position to give distanced advice, including how to make a great first impression in your new job. And if all else fails, give our team a call to sense check your approach (0207 11 88 444).

4 tips for handing in your notice:

  • Hand in your notice at the start of the day
  • Share what makes your new role different and slightly more suitable
  • Don’t accept counter offers
  • Confirm your intention to leave in writing so it won’t delay your leave date
Oasis HR

Written by , Network Driven HR Recruitment

Oasis HR is a multi-award winning HR Recruitment Agency based in London that delivers Contingency and Search services within the Human Resource and Business Change Markets. Our client base encompasses all industry sectors and we have a proven track record of delivering permanent, interim and temporary professionals at all levels across all HR disciplines. From a £20k HR Administrator to a £200k HR Director, Oasis HR is well placed to identify, approach and secure the best available talent in the market

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7 Responses to “What to Say When Handing In Your Notice: 4 Top Tips”

  1. Steven Coleman-Williams

    Hi Claire,
    what is your advice about handing in notice early?

    EG I have 7 weeks before I start my new job, but my notice is 4 weeks, are there any risks to handing it in early to try and give the company the heads up etc? or is there a chance they will say “no you take 4 weeks, and have 3 weeks unpaid in between jobs” – something over the festive season i can ill afford!


    • Mark Barnicoat

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately Claire is no longer working for us but we’d be more than happy to offer some advice in her absence. From a pure contractual perspective then our advice would be to hand in your notice 4 weeks prior to your start date to ensure you aren’t left with any gap in pay between roles.

      Morally of course you may feel that you wish to give your employer as much notice as possible but we’d imagine that its impossible to know if your employer would ‘do the right thing’ and extend your notice period purely out of good will and recognition of your gesture of giving as much notice as possible.

      As tricky a situation as it is, we’d err on the side of caution and choose the scenario which is contractually correct yet enables you to retain your earnings through the transition.

      We’d be happy to take the conversation off line and offer you some impartial advice over the phone if you’d like? We appreciate that this is a highly sensitive matter so wouldn’t want to go into too much detail in a public forum.

      Many thanks,
      Mark Barnicoat
      Oasis HR | Managing Director

  2. Jill Crone

    Hello. I am handing in my resignation after being assaulted at work but am uncomfortable having a meeting with my manager, plus he is on holiday.
    Can I send my resignation letter to him instead?
    Kind regards Jill Crone

    • Katie Barr

      Hi Jill, Sorry to hear of the circumstances surrounding your resignation. I do hope you’re okay. As far as I am aware there’s no reason why you are unable to resign via a formal letter rather than face to face. In these circumstances it certainly sounds like you’d need someone present during any meeting scenario anyway to witness the exchange given what’s happened. It might also be worth contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau as they’d be able to help further I am sure – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/leaving-a-job/

      Best of luck
      Oasis HR

  3. Jon P

    Ohh great. Many of the new/small business owners are seeking for such guidance.
    I’m sure this info will definitely help them a lot.I totally agree with all the mentioned points as they really make sense from the modern business point of view.

    • Oasis HR

      Thanks for your comment Carol.

      We would always advise parting ways from an employer in a positive way (you never know when your paths will cross again!). It’s important to acknowledge and emphasise the things you’ve enjoyed whilst working there. What did you learn? What relationships did you build? What will you take with you into your next role etc.

      However, it’s ultimately a farewell letter, so you don’t want to give your employer an unnecessary reason to doubt your decision… but starting and closely in a positive way is certainly sensible. It sounds like you’re already planning on doing this 🙂 As an opener perhaps something like ‘Dear XXX, it is with sadness that I am tendering my resignation…’ Hope that helps.

      Oasis HR


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