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Career Management: Giving in your Notice


Good career management means not handing in your notice until you are ready.

There is some kind of a warm fuzzy feeling you get when you go to your boss and give your notice.  That is of course as long it is with a boss who you have got along with well and you have a job to go to.

If on the other hand your Boss is a dislikable, tough task master you may be fearful about giving your notice.  Then do what many do and that is to wait until you get an unreasonable demand and then take the opportunity to say what you have dreamed of saying for ages.

“No I won’t and in fact, you can keep your stupid old job, I’m out of here’. Then, stand up and walk away with a big grin on your face that they can’t see.

Regardless of the kinds of person that you report to, there are a few basic dos when giving your notice.

1: Never ever give in your notice until you have a new job agreed, signed sealed and confirmed in writing with all terms and conditions clearly laid out. If there are any conditions that you are unsure about, or are vague or you disagree with, speak with HR and have them ironed out and again agreed in writing.  That applies especially to salary.

Negotiate your salary in a friendly fashion.  The worst that can happen is the employer will say no, we can’t go any further and you say thank you I accept. The matter is then closed. Once you start work there is no going back on the terms of employment agreed. When this is all done then you can give in your notice.

2: Very carefully check the terms and conditions of your current job and especially the notice period required. It could be a week, two weeks, a month or in some instances maybe more.  As a rule, the more senior you are, the longer period expected.

Should a potential employer need you to start sooner than your full notice allows, let them know that you would never walk out on an employer without full notice.  Tell them that you will ask your employer if they agree to a shorter time and you will get back to them quickly.  They will see you as being reliable as they wouldn’t want someone to do that on them.  If you can’t facilitate them with a quicker start date the chances are they will agree anyway.  Remember, once the conversation has gone that far, you are their chosen candidate and in their minds you are as good as hired.  They do not want to start the recruitment process all over again.

3: Under normal circumstances and assuming you get on well with your boss, ask to have a few words with them whenever it’s convenient.  At that meeting advise them that you wish to leave, give the full notice required or try to negotiate something shorter if required. Don’t fall out over it.

Ask your manager if they will provide you with a favourable reference as well as the company. Companies have varying policies on this. Some will provide written reference some will take telephone enquiries but one way or the other, get an assurance that they will speak well of you and importantly, the name of the referee if it’s not your immediate boss. As for both, two is better than one.  Get it all done in one go and before you leave; going back months later for a reference if a nuisance.

4: Referring back to the first paragraph, never ever leave under a cloud.  No matter how bad or nasty your boss may be, take your time, pick your moment and the give your notice and do it with regret at leaving the company.  You might be surprised at the conciliatory note your Boss adopts when you say this.  For their part it may be a relief at getting rid of you or maybe they are just taskmasters with little thought given to the career opportunities of the staff. They might surprise you and be interested in your career plans.

No matter what the outcome don’t get into a fight.  You want your reference, you want your final pay cheque and final tax documents sooner rather than later.  Getting into a fight with your old boss is foolish in the extreme. No matter how you try to explain this to a potential employer in an interview, it never works.  You’re the bad guy every time.

5: No matter who you talk to new employers, past employers, colleagues, clients or others, always speak well of your last job.  Even if it was hell on earth, never criticise.  Always speak with fond memories of the people you worked with.  It was a great company to work with and you learned a lot there.  Say that and you will be believed.  Say the opposite and you won’t.

Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and also at: www.jobdoctor.ie

Good Luck

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