It's a sad fact that most of our generation will be working until we're way into our late sixties. As awful a prospect as this seems, it simply means we could, and should, be picky about where we work. No one says we have to stay in the job we trained in, and in the same vein it doesn't mean we all need oodles of letters after our names to be able to have a shot in a new industry.
If we're to survive our working lives with some sanity - spanning five decades for some - we need a good work ethic, a little bit of luck, and an industry we want to support.
So what happens when you realise your career prospects aren't taking you any further than your current role? It's time to look elsewhere. And when you find a new job, it means there'll be one awkward conversation: a meeting where you say thanks for the opportunity Mr Boss Man/Lady, but I'm off.
For me, this happened a month ago.
So say you've been offered a new job. You've got the call. When should you resign? I called on the expert advice of Annabel of Irenicon again to iron out the facts.
When to resign from your job
Check your contractual notice period... if you have one.
When you get news you've been offered a new role, chances are you'll get a written contract outlining everything from your company pension to holiday entitlement. If you're working for a smaller place, though, or your role is a bit more casual, you might not be asked to sign a thing. But that doesn't mean you don't have a contract - it's just a verbal one.
Annabel says anything written down can serve as your contract, from informal emails to handwritten memos, so check these to see if there's any indication about your notice period in any correspondence.
Ok, so you've checked and there's nothing about your notice period anywhere. "In the absence of a contractual term about notice, you and your employer are on ‘reasonable notice’. For the majority of short term ordinary employees this will be the same as statutory notice which kicks in at one month’s service and is a week from either party."
So now you know your legal obligation, whether it's one weeks notice or one year. What next?
Don't burn your bridges.
As mentioned in this feature, you may want to slam the letter of your boss' desk, flip him/her the finger and tip over the water machine while moonwalking out of the building knowing you have mere days left at your desk. But not only is that a terrible idea, it could leave you without a job to go to next.
"Are you going to want a reference from these people at some point now or in the future? If their policy is to give ‘tombstone’ references only (which is to say you worked here from that date to that date as a whatever your job title is) then you are not going to affect that. It might be worth checking it out before you arrive at a decision though..."
Your employer has been decent enough to (hopefully) always pay your wages and give you a shot at your career. There's no need to act entitled just because you've decided to leave.
Work out a plan of action.
Firstly, sign your contract with your new employer. After all, there may be terms in your new job you aren't happy to just accept, so there could be a bit of negotiation needed before you go ahead. Only after the contract has been signed and sent should you then decide to have the chat - otherwise, tell no one.
Secondly, work out any remaining holiday you're entitled to. Again, check your contract for whether you need to take it as leave before you go or whether you'll need to work the full period of notice and be paid in addition.
Thirdly, in this world of Instant Messaging and E-Mail it can be easy to type something up and fire it off. But you got the job face-to-face. So do the right thing and schedule a meeting to inform your boss.
It's not the easiest thing to have to do, especially if you've been at your place of work for years, or if you're a fairly intrinsic part of the company. Remember though, that not everything is permanent, and at the end of the day, it's just business. When you find a job you love (like I have) then you'll realise that quitting could have been the best thing to do.
Note: for tips on how to resign, click here.