What to Expect When Leaving a Job

Leaving a job is a natural part of your career and something that you shouldn’t be anxious about when you’re looking to take the next step or find a better-suited role.

Now more than ever, people are considering moving roles for better pay, better benefits or a more flexible work routine – with research from Mckinsey suggesting that even as little as two years ago, over 40% of people surveyed were leaving a role without having a new job lined up.

While we’ve already highlighted the top 10 reasons people leave a job, here we’ll walk through what you to expect when you leave a job, common questions people have and how you can go about the process in a way that suits you.

What is a notice period?

When you leave a role you’ll typically have to work a notice period. If you resign or you’re made redundant, the notice period is an allotted amount of time that allows both the candidate and employer to adapt to the new situation.

Aside from giving the candidate time to adjust, it also helps the employer to either line up new candidates or hand over any work that you were performing, minimising the disruption to day-to-day operations within the workplace. How much notice an employee is expected to work depends on several factors: 

How long you’ve worked for the employer: The more senior you are in a business or workplace, the longer the notice period generally is. This is because it may be more difficult to hire a replacement or your work requires longer to successfully handover. 

What is agreed in your employment contract: You may have a set notice period in your employment contract that highlights what you’re expected to work. 

Whether you’ve been dismissed or resigned: If you’ve been dismissed, the notice period may be much shorter than it would be through redundancy or resignation so to avoid conflict. In cases of gross misconduct or more severe dismissals, the notice period may be waived entirely.

At the very least, an employee should receive a ‘statutory notice period’. This is the legal minimum notice period and applies if the employee is legally classed as an employee and has worked for at least one month. The statutory notice period may change based on how long the employee has worked for the business:

  • 1 month to 2 years – statutory notice is 1 week
  • 2 years to 12 years – statutory notice is 1 week for each full year of work
  • 12 years plus – statutory notice is 12 weeks


Based on where you’re working and the policies in place, you may work a ‘contractual notice’ instead. This can translate to a longer period than the statutory minimum but cannot be less.

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What happens when your notice period starts?

If you hand in your notice, you’re dismissed or made redundant, the first thing you should do is check your employment contract as this will highlight when your notice period starts. If it does not specifically mention a time, it’ll generally start the day after: 

You hand in your notice and officially resign

• Your employer tells you in person that you’re being made redundant or dismissed

If you receive notice in writing, the notice period starts when you’ve had reasonably enough time to read it.

During your notice period, you’ll be expected to work as usual but it can be a good idea to set up an exit interview and start thinking about creating a handover for any colleagues that may pick up your work once you leave.

It’s typically expected that you’ll be searching for a new job during this period but make sure that there are no clauses in your contract that may impact your job search such as a non-compete or something similar.

How to work through your notice period

While you might be leaving your current job because of negative reasons, you don’t want to leave a negative impression with your employers. Although it’s not uncommon for your colleagues or management to treat you differently during your notice period, it’s important that you remain professional, courteous and proactive, since your reputation is still at stake.

During your notice period, you should: 

• Stay focused on your work and perform it to the best of your ability. 

• Maintain good attendance and punctuality. 

• Consider collating all of your successful work and achievements together in a portfolio. 

• Don’t speak negatively about your boss, the workplace or colleagues during the period.

• Speak with your manager about arranging an exit interview where you can provide constructive feedback.

• Create a detailed and easy-to-understand handover document that either your colleagues or replacement can work from.

By maintaining your professionalism, you remain credible and ensure you’re entering the next chapter of your career in a positive way.

What is a counter offer?

If you have a specialised skill set or you’re particularly important to the operation of a business, you can expect to receive a counter offer from your employer. 

A counter offer is typically a package put together by the employer in an attempt to keep you with the business. It may include a pay rise, additional benefits or even changes to your working schedule. 

Whether you accept or decline a counter offer is completely up to you and depends on your individual circumstances. If you’d like to know more about how to handle a counter offer when you leave a job, you can read that here.

Complete an exit interview

A great way to ensure closure from a job role is to make sure you complete an exit interview. Aside from receiving constructive feedback on your own work, work ethic and achievements, it also allows you to provide feedback for your employer. 

Take the time to speak with your line manager and set up a time for an exit interview during your notice period.

By completing an exit interview, you can take the overall feedback on your performance and apply that to your next position.

Should you look for a new job while you’re in your current job? 

If you want to resign from a job, it might be worth holding off until you’ve found a new role you can go straight into. Aside from removing any of the mental or financial stress that being unemployed may cause you, it also removes the issue of having gaps in your employment history.

While it can be challenging to find a new role that starts as you leave your current one without missing any potential income, it’s still usually the more stable option.

If you want to know more about finding work whilst employed, you can read our top tips for finding a new job whilst still working here.

What should you look for in a new job role?

The short answer to this question is that it completely depends on you and your individual circumstances. There is a vast range of reasons why you might leave your job and it goes without saying, you’ll probably want your next role to address these failings. 

People often look for new roles that offer higher salaries, more room for career progression, better benefits, shorter commutes or more flexibility in working style.

Something that is often mentioned less is how culture can impact your working life. If you enjoy your work but you find that you experience tension, conflict or struggle to adapt to certain processes, you may just not be a good fit for the culture of the business. This is a completely acceptable reason for leaving a job and something to consider when you look for something new.

During your job search, take the time to either speak with your recruitment consultant or do the research yourself into how a business operates and whether that’d be a good fit for you.

What salary increases can you expect when you enter a new job?

It’s common for people to leave a job because they’re looking for a more competitive wage. If you’ve spent several years at a business or developed an entirely new skill set, it’s not uncommon to find that your salary is below market value.

This isn’t always a deliberate or planned outcome but it doesn’t mean that you should deal with it. Take the time to research similar roles and the wages they command based on similar experience, location and skills.

That said, while the pay increase you receive in a new role depends on a multitude of factors, research suggests that the salary increase in a new job can be anywhere between 5% and 15%.

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