What Happens When You Leave a Job?

You’ll more than likely leave a job during your professional career and it isn’t something you should feel anxious or guilty about. Leaving a job is a natural step if you’re seeking a new challenge or a better suited role. It’s actually becoming more acceptable to leave a job if you’re looking for a better salary, better benefits or a more flexible work experience, whereas in the past people tended to stay at a single role for a much longer time.

This is properly highlighted by a recent survey by Mckinsey, which suggests that over 40% of people were considering leaving their role even without having another job in hand. Although there are a number of reasons for leaving a job, below are some of the common steps that you’ll experience and answers to questions that you might have.

What is a notice period?

If you resign from a job, you’ll have to work a notice period. The notice period is the set amount of time both the candidate and the employer has to adjust. For a candidate, the notice period is the opportunity to hand over work and help minimise disruption to the daily operation of the business.

For an employer, the notice period gives them time to either start the recruitment process for a replacement or restructure the team in a way that ensures missing work is completed. The length of the notice period is dependent on several factors:

How long you’ve worked: The longer you’ve worked in a business, the longer the notice period generally is. This is largely because it’s harder to find a replacement for a more senior position and it takes much longer to hand over information.

What’s in your employment contract: Depending on your employer and the nature of your work, you may have a set notice period that you’re expected to work when you leave a job. It’s important to read your employment contract if you’re considering leaving a job as you’ll be in a better place to plan your transition.

Related: How to Handle a Counter Offer When You Leave a Job

The nature of your leaving: If you’re dismissed from a role, the notice period is often much shorter than it is if you resign, to avoid any potential conflict. If you’re sacked due to gross misconduct, the notice period is generally waived entirely and you’re expected to leave immediately. 

If you’ve been an official employee for at least a month, you’ll at least be expected to work your ‘statutory notice period’, which is a legal requirement. Your statutory notice period can change based on how long you’ve worked for the business: 

· 1 month to 2 years – statutory notice is 1 week

· 2 years to 12 years – statutory notice is 1 week for each full year of work

· 12 years plus – statutory notice is 12 weeks

Your business may require you to work a ‘contractual notice’. This can be a longer period than the statutory minimum but it cannot be less. 

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How does the notice period process work?

Your notice period generally starts the day after you officially resign and hand in your notice or your employer tells you in-person that you’re being made redundant or dismissed.

If you receive notice in writing, it’ll start when you’ve had enough time to reasonably see it and read it.

You’ll be expected to work as usual during your notice period but there are some steps that you can take to make the process more efficient: 

Set up an exit interview: Speak with your line manager and see if you can get an exit interview scheduled, as this will allow you to both provide and receive feedback on your experience within the business.

Create a handover document: This may be a requirement but even if not, it’s a good idea to create a handover document to help make your colleagues lives easier. If you have specialist knowledge about a specific process, for example, it’s important you pass this information on to others that may take on your responsibilities.

Finally, you may have a new role in place or you may be searching for a new job during your notice period. Just remember to make sure that you don’t have any clauses in your contract that may hurt your job search, such as a non-compete clause or something similar.

Related: What are the Top 7 Reasons for Leaving a Job?

How to work during your notice period

It’s important for your professional reputation that you maintain your usual working style and professionalism throughout your notice period – even if you’re leaving due to negative reasons. 

While it’s not uncommon for the way you’re treated to change after you hand in your notice, you put yourself in good stead if you stay courteous, professional and proactive. During your notice period, try to do the following things:

• Stay focused and complete any outstanding work you have

• Try to remain punctual as usual

• Put together all of your successes and achievements into a portfolio

• Don’t speak negatively to colleagues about the business, your boss or your experience

• Arrange an exit interview so that you can constructively provide feedback in the right environment

• Create a detailed handover document for your team or project

These steps can help you remain credible and ensure that you enter the next stage of your career with a positive attitude. 

What is a counter offer?

It’s increasingly common for employees to receive a counter offer, especially if they have a specialised skill set or they’ve been an employee for a longer period. 

A counter offer is a range of benefits that an employer will provide in an effort to keep you within the business. A counter offer is usually made up of a pay rise, additional bonuses or changes to your title or responsibilities.

Whether you take or decline a counter offer is down to you and how you feel about the job but if you’re not sure, you can read our blog on how to handle a counter offer here.

What is an exit interview?

It’s a good idea to conduct an exit interview when you leave a job. It’s an opportunity to professionally air any grievances and provide constructive feedback about your experience in the business.

Take the time to speak with your immediate manager and properly arrange an exit interview during your notice period.

When you finish your exit interview, you can take any of the feedback you receive into your next role and start to strengthen your weaknesses.

Related: Top Tips for Finding a New Job

How to look for a new job while you’re in your current job

Most people tend to find a new role before they consider resigning from their current role. This can be a good idea as it stops you from experiencing any potential mental or financial stress. It also helps you maintain a consistent employment record. 

While it can be a challenge to properly time finding a new role while leaving a job, it’s generally the more stable option.

If you need help with the process, you can read our top tips for finding a new job whilst working below.

What should you look for with a new job?

While the ideal role depends on what you’re looking for, there is a broad range of reasons you might consider leaving a job and it’s important to find a new role that addresses these challenges.

Generally, people prioritise finding a new role with higher salaries, higher potential for career progression or because it offers a new title.

That said, it’s just as important that you enjoy the culture and work environment. If you enjoy performing your day-to-day responsibilities but don’t gel with your team or struggle to adapt to a way of working, you’ll only want to leave your job sooner. 

If you’re working with a recruitment consultant, they’ll have a great idea on what business might be a good culture fit for you and make recommendations accordingly. 

What’s a typical salary increase when you start a new job?

One of the main reasons people leave a job is because they want a more competitive wage. This is particularly true for employees that have spent an extended period at a business. During this time, it’s common for people to realise that their salary is below market value as they develop new skill sets and take on more responsibilities.

This may be an oversight by an employer but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a change. Consider researching similar roles and the wages they offer based on a similar location or level of experience. 

While the pay increase you receive depends on your individual situation, research suggests that the average salary increase for a new job is anywhere between 5% and 15%.

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