How to resign
The days of working with the same company for 30 years and then retiring with a gold watch, a handicap of eight and a prescription for Xantac are long gone.
On average it is projected that we will change professions at least three times in our working lives. Reasons can be various and include financial motivation, promotion, perhaps the job no longer offers a challenge, or you just can't face another of your office's terrible Christmas parties.
Whatever the reason, leaving your job is a serious upheaval and can be a turning point in your career - like the birds that fly south in winter, and that dog in 'The Littlest Hobo', sometimes you just know that it is time to move on.
A career change is not a decision to be taken lightly, think it through, why exactly do you want to change jobs? If your current job offers you security and a reasonable wage, is it worth risking that? Consider taking a holiday, a rest can be as good as a change!
To help you make up your mind compile a list of areas where your current job is lacking, you should speak to your employers to see if some of them can be addressed.
Going, going, gone…
If you have your mind made up, you'll have to decide if you want your current employer to know that you are considering a career change. If you think it may threaten your present job, don't tell anyone, keep it to yourself until you have to start taking time off to attending interviews or have accepted an offer.
If you think the news will be received cordially, discuss your ambitions with your manager. They may be able to offer some guidance. If you are planning to attend some further education courses to develop new skills you may be able to get some tuition reimbursement from your company if the courses you want to take enhance your performance in your present job.
Once you have decided where you are moving onto, you will have to hand in your notice. The amount of notice your employer requires is usually dependent upon the amount of time you have been in the job, but the standard period is one month.
You should submit
a formal letter of resignation to your superior manager, head of department
or MD, there is no need to give detailed reasoning behind your decision
but some explanation will be expected at some point.
Ideally by the time you hand in your notice you will already have secured a new position so that there is little or no time when you are 'between jobs'. You should make it clear to your new employers that you have to serve your notice period before you can start work with them.
If at this point relations at your current place of work may be far from peachy but try to continue to be civil and professional with your colleagues even after you have handed in your notice. Reputations can spread within an industry, and if you are moving to another company in the same sector you do not want it put about that you are unsociable or a bad employee. Ideally you want to leave with a glowing reference.
You have had your send off party, tears were shed by all (most notably be David in marketing - damn a missed opportunity there), any time now you will receive your P45 in the post.
A P45 is a form that shows your tax code and is very important document because it tells your employer how much tax you should pay. A P45 is made up of 3 parts, you should keep Part 1A as a record of your pay and tax and hand the P45 Parts 2 and 3 to your new employer as soon as you start. If for some reason you don't have a P45, your new employer will give you a temporary P46 form.
If you have a pension, share buying options or a health plan with your company read your documentation to see what will happen to these when you move on.
A total change of career direction
It is possible you are unhappy with your whole area of work and want a complete change, unless you know what you want to do instead, you will have to seek some careers advice.
Visit your local career center and have a chat with their trained staff. They will probably offer you the opportunity to do a psychometric test that will analyze what qualities you have and what job sector would be most suitable for someone with those attributes. In addition, your local library will probably have some good careers resources, speak to friends who work in other sectors and find out what their jobs entail, it can also be very useful to look at different job descriptions posted on job boards such as GoJobsite.
Once you have decided roughly upon the direction you want to career to take determine what educational requirements and skills you will need to fulfill your ambition. It is possible that your previous experience will not be regarded as being relevant and you may need to do an evening class at your local technical school, community college or a part time university degree to get a foot in the door.
Start with a few courses to see if you like the subject matter, as you are probably still in work these will have to be carried out in the evenings or at the weekend. You should try to get some work experience, but you may not be able to fit this in with your working hours.
Consider taking some annual leave and spend a week shadowing someone who does the job you think you might like. After this, if you realize the field is not what you thought or hoped it would be, consider switching gears and investigating another possible career.
The secret to a successful job or career change is to give yourself enough time to do it right. If you have been in your current job for a while you will probably know it and your company inside out. When you move to another company, to another role, perhaps into a different field of expertise, you will not instantly be an expert. By carrying out research into the sector and the responsibilities of the job you will make your transition less of a culture shock.
It is a good idea to talk to as many people as possible who currently work in the sector/job/company in which you are interested in moving to. They may be able to provide you with some inside information and a point of reference to name drop in a speculative letter of application. Join professional associations and network, network, network.
Don't underestimate the time and money it requires to change careers. Even though you are not new to the job market, you still have to employ the same job-hunting strategies as someone looking for their first job or re-entering the job market after a long period away. It has probably been a while since you last updated your CV, so allocate so time to making it look good and read well.
If you are changing to a different career, employers, despite your years of experience probably will view you as a relative beginner, which, in a sense you are. Apply for the best positions offered, but be flexible about accepting an entry-level position. Once you get into a company, you'll be able to advance rapidly because of your experience in the work world.
Salary won't be very negotiable because of your lack of experience in your new profession. The salary offered will not be what you made in your last job and may not even be near it. If you can live on what you are offered, take it. You quickly will become more valuable to the company than a first-time worker because of your previous experience and will be able to command a larger salary.
When you are settled in your new job and enjoying your new profession, don't relax: Start thinking of the next career move you want to make.