Listen To The Latest Episode of The Recruitment and Beyond Podcast

Hear from Hayley Raeper, People Lead at xDesign, on maintaining your company culture as you grow.  

How to hand in your notice. Our Top Five Tips

How to hand in your notice

Handing in your notice: A guide

We’ve all had fantasies of quitting a job we hate with dramatic flair, telling our boss exactly what we think of them and leaving the building to the sound of our co-workers’ applause.

Sadly, in real life, that’s not quite how resigning works. Instead, we’ve got to hand in our notice in a polite and professional manner. Boring, right?

To avoid damaging a relationship you might depend upon in the future, you should always leave a job on a positive note.
To help you navigate this nerve-wracking time, our Business Support Manager, Sarah Ferguson, shares her top tips for handing in your notice the right way. 

Before handing in your notice

There are a few steps you can take to make sure you feel as confident as possible when handing in your notice.

Be sure of your decision

Before you even think about writing your resignation letter, you need to make sure you have good reasons for leaving a job. Take the time to think things through and don’t make any rash decisions, particularly if your emotions are running high. 

If you’re unhappy, consider whether there are any reasonable changes your employer could make to improve the situation, such as more flexible working arrangements. It’s also worth talking things through with a trusted colleague before you decide it’s the end of the road. 

Check your contract terms

If you’re sure you want to leave, pull out your employment contract and check over a few details, including: 

  • Your notice period: this is the amount of time you’ll have to work for your employer after you hand in your letter of resignation
  • Competitor clauses: sometimes referred to as ‘gardening leave’, these are restrictions that will stop or delay you from taking up a job role with a competitor business
  • Your notice pay: this sets out what payments you’re entitled to, including any holiday or sick pay and whether you can take ‘payment in lieu’ instead of working your notice

Having this information to hand means you’ll know exactly how much salary you’re entitled to. It will also help you give future employers important details like appropriate start dates. 

Write your resignation letter

Striking the right tone with your resignation letter will make a smooth transition to your new job. 

Use our resignation letter template, or follow the dos and don’ts below. 


  • Include information about the date you plan to hand in your notice, your employer’s address, your line manager’s name, your last day of employment and your full name and job title
  • Keep the tone professional and stick to the facts, you aren’t required to include reasons for leaving
  • Be courteous and let your employer know what you have gained from your time with the business (you can include thanks if it’s appropriate)
  • Keep it to a concise length, around 200 words maximum


  • Use it as a way to vent frustrations you experienced during your time in that role
  • Get personal or name colleagues as part of your reason for leaving 
  • Set out demands about pay or when your contract will end without discussing and confirming them with your line manager
  • Include details about your future employer or role - they’re not required

Depending on the way your business operates, you may be able to send your resignation letter via email or need to supply a paper copy. Your HR department may also need a copy. Be sure to check this when you hand in your letter. 

When you’re handing your notice

Once you’ve taken all the steps you need to prepare, it’s time to rip off the band-aid. Keeping the following advice in mind will help you approach this tricky conversation with confidence. 

 Do it as early as possible

When you’ve made your decision to leave, handing in your notice is best done as quickly as possible. Though you don’t want to rush, you will likely have to continue in your role for a few weeks or months after your initial conversation. This will delay you making your next career step. The sooner you hand in your resignation, the sooner you can move on to a new role. 

Have a face-to-face chat

Having an in-person meeting with your line manager is the best way to inform them of your decision to move on. Telling them by email or by leaving a letter on their desk is likely to make them feel disrespected and could make for an awkward exit process.

Schedule half an hour in their diary and try to remain calm and professional throughout the meeting. If you need to, write down questions or points you want to make beforehand so you can get the most out of the time. 

Don't jump at a counter-offer 

Your employer may receive the news of your resignation with shock and be unprepared for replacing you. This is when a counter-offer is most likely, as they will look for ways to entice you into staying with the business.
These offers can be very flattering, and you may be tempted to forget any grievances when offered a salary increase or promotion. However, with 80 to 95% of employees leaving the business six to 12 months after they accept a counter-offer, you could simply be prolonging the inevitable.
If you do get a counter-offer, think carefully about why you wanted to leave in the first place and whether it resolves your reasons for leaving. Weighing this up against any new roles you’ve been looking at or offered may also give clarity on your decision.

Crucially, get counter-offers in writing. Otherwise you might accept a promise that gets conveniently forgotten about once you decide to remain at the company.

 After handing in your notice 

Giving your manager your resignation letter is just the first step of the leaving process. To leave your role on a positive note, here’s what to do next.

 Arrange your handover

Once formalities are out of the way and your manager and colleagues are aware of your departure, you’ll need to work together to ensure there are no loose ends when you leave. Pull together a detailed handover so your replacement can hit the ground running and ensure a smooth transition for your employer.

Ask for a reference

Even if you already have a new job offer in place, you might need an extra reference for future applications. That’s why remaining productive (not clock-watching) throughout your notice period is also important. This will ensure your line manager has no excuse to give you a bad reference. 

Keep in touch with colleagues

If you haven’t already, take the time to exchange contact details with key colleagues. You never know what the future can bring and having reliable, professional contacts can be essential for taking your next career step. Be sure to say a proper goodbye to everyone too so you leave the role (and team) on a positive note. 

Resigning from your job: FAQs

There are lots of questions you might have on your mind when moving on from a current job. Here are the answers to some key queries below. 

What happens if you don’t work your notice in the UK?

This depends on whether you’ve decided not to work out your notice mutually with your employer or you have walked out of your own accord. 

If the decision is mutual, then you should also make a written agreement with your employer about how any outstanding payments for owed leave or days worked will be made. You won’t officially be entitled to any pay in this case and may lose out financially, so only take this option if you really need to. 

If you’ve made the decision to leave on your own without letting your employer know, then you will likely be in breach of your employment contract and could be subject to a lawsuit. No matter how bad the situation, it’s recommended that you avoid making this step, as it could affect your future employment prospects. 

How much notice do I have to give? 

The amount of notice you have to give your employer for leaving a role will be set out in your employment contract. It can vary from one week to three months or more in length. You should check this before you hand in your resignation letter so you can put an adequate transition plan in place. 

Will I get paid if I resign with immediate effect?

Your employment contract will set out whether you’re entitled to any pay after resigning with immediate effect. In most cases, you will need to serve a notice period. Otherwise, you might be in breach of contract. 

You should always let your employer know it is your intention to leave immediately. That way you can make a mutual agreement about what you’re owed and ensure you’re not left out of pocket. 

Final thoughts

Although it’s a tricky experience, handing in your notice the right way is so important. Even if you have grievances with your current employer, act reasonably and respectfully. That way, you’ll leave on a high note, and with a positive reputation. 

Next steps

Time for a new job? We list hundreds of opportunities each week. Check out our live vacancies, or upload your CV to get notified when new jobs are advertised.

Similar Articles

How does redundancy work?

22 Sep 2023

Redundancy Process: how to handle it

Read More
how to write a job application

18 Jan 2023

How To Write A Job Application: Mistakes To Avoid

Read More
linkedin job search

17 Jan 2023

LinkedIn Job Search: Tips & Tricks For 2023

Read More