There are a range of reasons why you might leave your job. For example:
Some of these reasons for leaving a job are voluntary and based on choices you make, like doing more study or training. Other reasons for leaving a job may not be your choice, like not having your contract renewed.
When you make the choice to leave a job to go to another job or further study, you are resigning from the job. When you resign from a job (for any reason), it’s important to treat your employer fairly and leave on good terms, where possible.
Here are some tips for resigning in a professional manner that leaves you and your employer feeling respected and appreciated.
In most jobs, your employment contract requires that you give your employer written notice of your planned resignation. This means that you might need to continue working for a short period (usually about two to four weeks) after the date you give your employer your official resignation letter. However, you may be able to use up any unpaid annual (vacation) leave that is owing to you before you go.
You can check your employment contract for conditions that are relevant to your resignation, such as the length of notice required, or any other obligations. This allows your employer to prepare for losing you!
Before giving your written notice, have a face-to-face conversation with your supervisor. This conversation will vary depending on your circumstances. You may have already told your supervisor that you were considering this decision. Perhaps you might have asked them to provide you with a reference for another job. Alternatively, some people prefer to wait until they’re certain that they plan to resign before discussing it with their supervisor.
Either way, it’s good to have a private conversation with your supervisor before sending a resignation letter. Your supervisor might want you to stay so much that they may offer a counteroffer or an alternative, such as a pay rise or a change in work tasks to encourage you to stay. You’ll want to consider carefully what is being offered before deciding whether to go ahead with the resignation.
Keep your letter of resignation short and sweet (as possible). Focus on the key information, such as:
The exit process will be different for each job but you may be asked to:
During this exit process, it’s wise to remain polite and cooperative, even if you’re glad to say goodbye. Even though you may be leaving, you should continue putting in your usual effort at work. Your employer and colleagues will appreciate your efforts, and these positive connections might be helpful in future - particularly if you want them to give you a good recommendation to other employers!
Sometimes we lose a job not because we resign (decide to leave), but because our employment is terminated (ended) by the employer. This might happen if your company becomes downsized (this means they require less workers to do the work); if your role is made redundant (this means the work tasks you do are not needed anymore – this sometimes happens when work tasks become automated, like at a car wash); or if your employer is unhappy with your job performance. Be aware of the rules that employees and employers must follow in these situations to make sure that everyone is treated fairly. Fair Work Australia has information on their website that can help you to understand the rules for ending a contract of employment.
It’s natural to feel angry or upset if you find that your contract will not be renewed. Job loss can affect you in a number of ways, including your mental health, financial stability, and your sense of identity and place in society. Think about who in your support network you can reach out to ask for help if you need it – talking about how you feel may help you to make a plan for what comes next. Beyond Blue’s Taking Care of Yourself after Losing your Job resource provides some general advice to help you cope if you lose your job.
After a period of reflection, it’s a good idea to start searching for a new job. While this may seem overwhelming or even scary at first, losing a job can be an opportunity for you to grow personally and build your resilience. For instance, you might learn something new from your previous employer about your strengths and weaknesses that you can consider when searching for new jobs that are a good match for you. Perhaps you’ll find a completely new job or career that you wouldn’t have otherwise dared to dream!
To help you, the University of Southern Queensland has identified some helpful tips when searching for new jobs with a resilient attitude.