In most careers, there comes a time where people decide to move on from their current job. There could be multiple reasons for this, and the days of employees staying at one company for decades until retirement are long gone.
If you’re in a similar situation, you need to remember there’s a process to follow. This starts from the initial announcement, right through to your last day, and includes any potential counteroffer.
Check out the rest of this blog for our tips to managing your resignation process to ensure you meet the terms of your contract, and leave in good standing.
The preparation: knowing your rights
Check your contract for things like your notice period and any rules around terminating your contract. Are you still on probation, and if so, how does this affect timeframes? Work out things like your annual leave allowance, as this may be prorated, and any money you may owe the company for things like season ticket loans.
Go through the terms and conditions of any qualifications or tickets you’ve achieved while at your current company. Some businesses such as Open Reach, don’t allow you to take your tickets with you if you leave. While this won’t affect you being hired by another company, be mindful that they’ll probably need to send you on a test to get the ticket again.
Are you going to a direct competitor? If so, you need to be especially thorough as there might be a clause in your contract around this – it could be under a section called ‘restrictive covenants’. It should tell you the actions an employer can take if you go to a competitor, which can include you leaving sooner than your notice period and/or being placed on gardening leave.
The resignation format: keep it both verbal and in writing
Your resignation letter will need to be in writing, so the company has an official record. However, this shouldn’t be the only form of communication you have. It’s always a good idea to speak to your manager first – as soon as possible and ideally in person.
Keep things polite and graceful – the Fibre industry can feel small, with many of the players knowing each other. This makes recommendations and word-of-mouth important, so you don’t want to burn any bridges. When speaking with your manager, talk about the value you feel you’ll get from your new opportunity, rather than bad mouthing the current one. That said, if they ask for your honest feedback or reasons for leaving you should feel free to answer, just keep it constructive rather than critical.
Also tell them that you’re happy to work your required notice period and do what’s needed to ensure continuity. This might include a handover (something we’ll discuss later on).
If you’d like to leave earlier than your notice period allows, ask your manager and see what response you get. This will probably need to go in as a formal request, and you can include that in your resignation letter.
An email to your manager will be fine, but they might ask you to copy in the HR department as well. Also, ask if the letter needs to be printed off as a hard copy.
It’s also crucial that you don’t tell any co-workers before your manager. This avoids the risk of giving them a surprise. Remember you want to keep good relationships where possible, so this human touch is important.
The resignation letter: how to structure it
If the letter needs to be given as a hard copy, ensure the date, company name and company address is on there. If it’s being done over email, then this isn’t necessary.
In both cases, address it to your manager and keep it short. The content doesn’t need to be too long and complicated – the real depth will already have been covered in your verbal conversation. If not, it may be covered in your exit interview, so there’s still no need for this detail in the letter.
Briefly state your reason for leaving. If you’ve found a new job, you don’t need to state the name of the company you’re going to. Simply say you’ve found another opportunity which you’d like to explore.
However, if you’re going to a competitor and have a restrictive covenant clause in your contract (as mentioned earlier), it’s good practice to let your employer know who you’re going to. That way they can activate the rules in your contract. Don’t try to hide this, as they will probably find out anyway.
Finally, finish with a word of thanks for the opportunity to work with them. Although this isn’t a necessity, it’s a nice touch.
The counter offer: how to respond to it
You might find that your current employer is keen to keep you on board and gives you a counteroffer. This is especially likely in the Fibre market, as the demand for skilled workers is very high.
The first thing to do is consider why you wanted to leave in the first place. Was it just money or was there more to it?
Go back to the very beginning of your job search and remember the reasons you started looking elsewhere.
Have those things changed? Has your employer made a commitment to making that change? And if so, can you trust them to honour it?
If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no’, then a counteroffer won’t really solve anything. Remember the process of finding a new job isn’t easy, and having done all the hard work, you don’t want to miss the boat if the concerns you had aren’t going to change.
Of course, with the current economic situation, everybody wants to get the best possible salary and benefits package. But remember that even if money was the overriding factor, both options (staying where you are and moving on) give you a healthy pay rise. That’s why you should start weighing up other factors. These include:
- Progression opportunities
- Job satisfaction
- Employee wellbeing
- Company culture
- Work-life balance
Write a list and see which of the two jobs tick the most boxes. This can go a long way towards helping you make up your mind.
Statistics show that 90% of employees who accept a counteroffer end up leaving within 12 months anyway, because there’s usually more than just money at play in the first instance.
You also need to consider the fact that you only got a better deal once you resigned, and not before. Of course, your employer doesn't want you to leave, but the fact they didn’t reward you beforehand should set some alarm bells ringing.
If you end up accepting the counteroffer, think about how this could play out in the future. Some people in senior positions may question your loyalty and be wary of you as you’ve asked to leave. Meanwhile, colleagues who find out about the counteroffer may feel resentful.
Ultimately, you’ll need to trust your gut instinct. If you decide to reject the counteroffer, do so in a polite way – remember the earlier point about keeping a good relationship. Let them down gently and explain that you don’t feel able to turn down this new opportunity. Also explain that you’ll do your best throughout the rest of your time with them, which brings us nicely onto our final point.
The notice period: navigating it professionally
Until you officially leave, you are still being paid and relied upon by your current employer. Stay professional until the end. Some of the key things to remember are:
- Continue being punctual
- Remain focused
- Keep a friendly attitude towards everyone you interact with
- Avoid talking negatively about the company or boasting too much about your new role
If you’re based in the field (for example if you’re a Fibre Engineer), then a written handover document might not be appropriate. You might need to give a verbal briefing or run some sessions to make sure the rest of your team is up to speed. At the same time, if you’re asked to create some sort of document, don’t just rush it. Ensure all key information is clearly detailed.
In some cases, you might have external stakeholders to inform. For example, Civil Supervisors often have to liaise with authorities such as the Highways Authority. Make sure your contacts are aware that you’re leaving. If your replacement’s start date overlaps with your notice period, then you can introduce them. Otherwise, you can put your manager or another colleague down as a contact for the short-term.
Many businesses will ask you to do a formal exit interview, where you can discuss your reasons for leaving and give your thoughts on the company. Be as honest as you feel comfortable with, while also avoiding any personal attacks on individuals. You want to keep the feedback constructive – this will help the business be realistic in how they approach filling your role. It might also persuade them to change certain things, making the industry better for you and your peers in the long run.
If you’re at the point where you’ve been offered a new job, then congratulations! As we mentioned earlier, it isn’t an easy process, so you’ve clearly put a lot of thought and effort into the process. The same attitude should be applied to the way you manage the resignation process. That way, you’ll leave a positive final impression and maintain your professional relationships – something which could be very useful later down the line.