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Here’s how to survive working your notice period

The end

Walking into an office to resign is never easy, especially when you’ve loved the experience at the particular company and feel gratitude for personal and professional growth you’ve gained during your time there.

You can’t help but liken the resignation period to a very long break-up, usually a calendar month; it’s awkward and difficult but it is important for your career that you know how to manage it well.

Your first step should be to pull up your employment contract and familiarise yourself with the conditions of resignation set out in your contract. This will include things such as your required notice period, any monies you may owe due to study grants your company might have paid, stipulations regarding leave due to you and restraint of trade in some cases.

Once you are sure you know the requirements and conditions of your resignation it’s time to put on your big kid pants and hand in your resignation. Write your resignation letter before you speak to your manager, you can print a hard copy of the letter and have it with you in an envelope when breaking the news to your senior. Then remember to email it as well after your discussion has ended to have a digital record.

The resignation letter should not get personal, regardless of the conditions around your decision to leave. Announce that you are notifying the company of the start of your required notice period, thank the company and your colleagues and, although you do not have to give a reason for leaving, you can mention that you are excited about your new opportunities for growth or that your family is relocating. As mentioned, however, it should not be required of you to provide a reason.

The talk

Letter of resignation

When telling your manager of your decision you can expect to have to deal with a variety of opinions, responses and even emotions depending on your relationship with your senior and position and time at the company.  Your best response would always be to remain professional and courteous.

Assure your manager that you will honour the conditions of your employment contract, especially if you signed a restraint of trade. Mention that you will be finishing all of your current projects, will do everything you reasonably can to make the handover as easy as possible and will be available for a short while after you’ve left for any issues that may come up.  Remember though, that you’ve done as is required from you so do not feel obliged to go above and beyond at any expense to yourself, even if you feel loyalty and gratitude towards the company.


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If your reasons are purely financial for leaving your manager might counter with another higher offer. In this case you need to consider all of the factors. Perhaps ask for 24 hours to carefully look at all your options. You need to ensure that you will be happy staying at the company and that relationships will remain intact in light of the fact that you’ve shown you’ll leave if opportunity arises (seniors might now treat you differently, questioning your loyalty). Something to keep in mind is that if you’ve also accepted an offer from the new company it might create some problems.

The notice period

last day at the job

Once you’ve given your notice you actually have to work the notice period. During this time you should keep in mind the image you want to portray and what you want to leave your colleagues and clients with. Never, under and circumstance, start slacking and let issues fly that you would not under normal course of business. As far as reasonable, try to finish any work and projects that you are busy with and do all you can to make the hand-over as easy as possible.

Top tip: Remember that your relationship doesn’t end when you leave. You will need information from the company’s HR such as tax information and your pension or provident fund.

On your last day personally say thank you and good bye to your seniors and the colleagues you have worked with. Share your contact details with the individuals you want to stay in contact with and leave everyone with a good last impression of you.

Working the notice period is often more taxing than the actual act of giving notice. It is important, not only for your career but also your emotional wellbeing, that you manage this transition well.

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