How to hand in your notice to a graduate job
You might have many different reasons in your first graduate job for handing in your notice. These can range from being dissatisfied with your graduate job role, not seeing eye-to-eye with your employer, or simply moving on to do something else.
Whatever your reasons for writing a notice letter, you must be aware of the way that you leave things. If you have found yourself on bad terms with your employer and are keen to just cut and run, take a moment to consider the future (remember this is your first graduate job and you have more to come). If you decide to burn bridges when you hand in your resignation letter, then you will likely be leaving a trail of destruction in your wake that might end up biting back in the future.
For example, if you decide your last few days aren’t even worth coming in for, you will be causing a few disgruntled colleagues to pick up the slack. Likewise, your manager will see you as unprofessional and carry forwards a bad impression of you. Whilst these may not be the people that you have a gripe with, they are the ones that will continue working in the industry that you are part of without a particularly great view of you as a colleague. At this early stage in your career, building a positive network of business contacts is crucial, and you can’t afford to blacklist yourself in other’s books. As a general rule, always work your full notice period (it’s legally binding if it’s in your contract anyway).
Handing in your notice gracefully begins with writing a good letter. If you have no idea how to write a resignation letter, then this article is a good place to start. You don’t need to write out a physical letter (an email will usually do), but the wording should be clear and understandable.
Begin your letter by thanking your employer for the opportunity to work in their company, and state that you are pleased to have learnt a lot whilst working there. Even if you secretly can’t stand your employer or the company you are leaving, it pays to be polite and courteous at this stage. Outline your reasons for leaving, and state the particulars of when you expect your final day to be (pending no objections). Be professional when writing up your letter, even if you know your manager well, as you never know who will need to read it.
Don’t email over your notice letter and then hide under your desk, either. The best way to quit is in person, so do the right thing and request a meeting with your manager before you lose your courage. Decide on what you want to say in advance, so that you aren’t improvising wildly while you quit – a rundown on what is in your resignation letter is a good place to start. Never, ever go into this final meeting in a bad mood in case you end up saying something that you regret later. Remember that you only have to be there for a little while longer, so just grit your teeth and be humble.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be honest about your reasons for leaving. If you are moving for a better salary or more progression in another role, then there is always the chance that if you play your cards right, your boss will produce a counteroffer to keep you. Being honest will also help them out in the long run, as they can see where things didn’t quite work out and potentially tweak things with their next hire.
When it comes to your notice period, you should be prepared to see it through as written in your contract. If you are angling to leave early then you should have a conversation with your boss and see if there is any way they would be prepared to let you off. It would save them paying you for another month or so which is sometimes preferable, or they might say that if they hire someone else in time then you can let them pick up the extra hours. It’s always worth having the conversation in any case.
Handovers are arguably the most complicated part of leaving a role, because you ought to be thorough. This goes back to the first point about not leaving everyone picking up your debris, and instead ensuring that everything is in place so that almost anyone could step in and pick up where you left off. Finalise anything that needs to be finalised, including leaving clients with forwarding details and completing projects that are almost finished.
If you follow this advice, then you will leave your current role without burning any bridges. Don’t forget that you might need a good reference in the future, so be humble and leave on good terms.