How To Hand In Your Notice

Posted on 16/3/2018 by Katherine Memery

You’ve received the call you’ve been waiting for and have been offered an exciting new position, congratulations! But before you can truly get energised about your move, there’s the small but essential task of handing in your notice.

Whether you’ve been at your current firm for ten months or ten years, leaving a job is never easy. Even if you know you’re moving on for the right reasons, handing in your notice can be a difficult conversation to have with your boss, particularly if you have a good relationship. If you can, try to put your emotions to one side and approach the process of giving your resignation as you would any other business matter.  

Decide when to resign

Think about when will be the optimum time for you to share your news. Friday afternoon is commonly thought of as the best day to hand in your notice, as it gives everyone time to digest the news over the weekend. It also means that your last day will be at the end of the working week and you can begin your new role the following Monday.

Get it over with

If you’re feeling anxious about speaking to your boss, it’s best to just get it over with; delaying the process will only make things worse. If you’re certain the job isn’t for you and you’re doing the right thing by leaving, it’s best to be upfront with your employer so they are aware of your intentions and can begin the search for your replacement.

Write a resignation letter

As well as letting your boss know you’re leaving in person, you should also write a formal letter of resignation. In your letter, succinctly explain that you’re leaving and, bearing in mind your notice period, advise when your last day will be.

You might also want to touch upon how you feel your time with the firm has benefited you and your career. This will help you to maintain a positive relationship with your employer so that you leave on the best terms possible.

Be prepared for the counter-offer

When you hand in your notice, your boss might make you a counter-offer in an attempt to keep you. As we explored in a previous blog, in most cases, counter-offers should be approached with caution.

A pay rise or flexible working hours might improve your job satisfaction in the short term, but once the novelty wears off, the reasons that drove you to the jobs market are likely to resurface. While it might be sensible to reflect on the offer, if you’re sure you want to leave, thank your boss for the proposal but politely decline and reiterate your intentions.

Leave at an appropriate time and offer to help

Remember that your clients are the most precious cargo to take care of before you make your move. If you’re working on an important case or deal, try your best to leave at an appropriate point, or when the case has concluded. Make sure your work is transitioned to the right people; leaving helpful notes on the files you were working on will help your replacement pick up your caseload as seamlessly as possible.

Offer to help with the transition process, perhaps by being ‘on call’ for the few weeks following your departure on the off chance that anyone has any questions about your cases. Even if there isn’t any need to contact you, offering to help will make you look helpful and responsible.

Don’t be negative

If you’re leaving because you’re unhappy in your current role, it’s unwise to voice any negative feelings you might have towards your employer in your notice letter or during conversations with any colleagues.

Words spoken in haste might come back to haunt you; the regional legal profession can be surprisingly small, and you never who might ask about your work or character after you move on. Departing on positive terms will help to protect your personal brand and build your professional network for future job searches.

Say goodbye

Of course, you’ll also need to let your colleagues know about your move. Once you’ve given formal notice to your employer, take the time to send your colleagues a message to say you’re leaving. Those who you work closely will appreciate a heads-up in person, so make them a priority when it comes to sharing the news.

Always explain your decision to move in terms of career advancement and be careful not to brag too much about your new position. Before you go, make sure you have the phone numbers and personal email addresses for those friends and colleagues you want to keep in touch with (in case they also end up moving to a new firm).

While you may be leaving for pastures new, you never know when you might end up bumping into your old colleagues or employer, so it’s important to maintain positive relations. Leaving professionally and gracefully will help you to protect your reputation and ensure you don’t burn any bridges that could prove valuable in the future.

Thinking about entering the legal jobs market but not sure where to begin?

At Realm, we’ll guide you through the job-hunting process, from start to finish. Whether, you’re simply interested in learning what’s out there in the legal market, or have your sights set on a specific firm, our specialist consultants can help you. 

We know the law firms we work with well and are perfectly positioned to help you both at the application stage and post-interview to help ensure you find a role with the firm that’s right for you and your career. For a confidential chat about your circumstances, get in touch with us today on 03300 245 606 or email

How To Hand In Your Notice


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