How to Hand in Your Notice at Your First Graduate Job

Tara Sallis

When the time has come to leave your first job, it can be daunting to actually go through the process of resignation. You want to keep things positive between you and your employer and find a polite way to leave.

This can seem tricky to execute properly, but plan it carefully and you'll be just fine. Here are our top tips on how to hand in your notice professionally, whilst maintaining a good relationship with your supervisors and colleagues.

Letting people know

We recommend starting to have conversations about you leaving as soon as you can in order to make the transition smoother for everyone! You should let your manager know first, so that they don’t hear from somebody else. Also let people who have been invested in your career development know, for example, any mentors or friends at the company.

It is likely that your employer will be as supportive as they can as it is very common for people to frequently move jobs, especially during the early stages of their career. Being honest about your reasons for leaving can be good too! For example, if you are leaving because of the pay or because you want to do a different role, let your employer know so and they may even be able to offer you a different role or opportunity that resolves the problem altogether. For more advice about whether to leave your job at all, check out our previous blog posts.

Check your contract to see how much notice you have to give (commonly 3-4 months) and be sure to stick to this. But if you know sooner, then tell people sooner so that they can start making preparations!

Writing a letter

It is common after you have chatted to the people at your company to send a letter. We would advise you structure this in 3 sections:

  1. Thank your employer
  2. Let them know why you are leaving
  3. Reassure them that you will be happy to help with handing over to your replacement

This will show you in the most professional and positive light and will make sure that you leave on good terms.

Small companies

Leaving a small company can be a big deal. You may be performing multiple roles, understand systems that no one else does, and you are a proportionally bigger part of the team! The key thing you should do to help smooth out the resignation process is offer to help as much as possible with the handover.

You may be the only person who could train someone else in your job so make yourself available to do this and give plenty of notice to your employer so that they can start finding someone to replace you. You don’t want to leave the company in a bad position, so pick a convenient moment to leave, and be open throughout the process.

Big companies

Leaving a bigger company might be a more formal process. Be prepared to be professional, and make sure you follow any company policy. Make yourself available for handing over, but it is more likely someone else will do this as there may be many people at your firm doing a similar job to yours. Don’t let yourself be talked in or out of leaving the job by your colleagues or managers. You must think about your own career aspirations and stick to this.

Leaving your first job can be a daunting process, but if handled well it will show your professionalism and you will be able to keep strong relationships with the people you met. In the vast majority of cases employers are supportive as you move onto a new stage of your career!