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What to remember when leaving a job

2 October 2021

Leaving a job and beginning a new one can be a rather daunting experience. Humans are creatures of habit and often change resistant, so forcing ourselves to make a change to something as central to our lives as our employment is a really big deal. Given the average person spends roughly 40 hours a week working, it is one of the biggest aspects of our lives that can affect our happiness, sense of purpose and fulfilment.

There can be several reasons to leave a job. Some people like to stay at one company for a long time, while others get itchy feet. Perhaps you want a fresh environment, a new challenge, or maybe there’s nowhere to go in your current organisation. Whatever the reason, there’s a few key things to remember when leaving a position.

Tell those who need to know first
While many of us have colleagues that we consider friends, it’s important that your boss finds out you’re leaving from you and not through office scuttlebutt. It’s prudent to already have your letter of resignation written up when you tell your boss so they can get it processed with HR as soon as possible. Keep in mind the letter should include when your final workday will be. If unsure of your notice period, check your contract, usually for full time employees it will be four weeks.

Talk to HR
There’s a myriad of things you’ll want to find out when leaving a job. These include finding out when you’ll receive your final pay, how much any unused accrued annual leave you haven’t use will be in that final pay. In some cases, you can take quite the tax hit when cashing out holiday pay. And while you’ll get that back come tax time, if you want to get taxed less at the time, talk to HR about taking holidays at the end of your time at the company. For example, if you have 10 days of leave, you could have your final day of work on Friday the 10th, but your official last day would be two weeks later on the 24th but those ten days would holiday pay, and that way you might get another pay cheque and you’ll be taxed at your usual rate.

Connect with fellow employees
Once you’ve officially resigned and as long as your boss and HR hasn’t told you to wait for an official announcement, you’re free to talk to friends at work about leaving. This is a good time to connect with colleagues on social media networks, particularly LinkedIn, or even more informal networks for those you’re really close with. Making an effort to set up ways to stay in touch can be extremely beneficial down the track, as you might hear about a new job or training opportunity from them. It’s always easier to get an interview for a job when you know someone, and even better when you’ve worked with them.

Seek references
While you might be leaving to another job, it’s always good to get references from your superiors while your experience at the company is fresh in their minds. This could even be a LinkedIn recommendation. While you may never need it, or perhaps in a few years’ time, it’s much harder to recollect necessary detail years after the fact. If you don’t feel like written references are needed, this is also a good time to ask those in your current organisation who you’d like to use in the future if they’re happy to be referees in the future.

Leave on good terms
Leaving a job can be an exciting time if going to a new one that you’re looking forward to, but there can also be politics associated with leaving your current job. Even if you didn’t like your current job or certain colleagues, avoid the temptation to burn bridges with fellow workers and try and leave on good terms with those you’ve worked with, it will serve you much better in the future.

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