A dog looking guilty, illustrating someone about to resign and also feeling guilty.

Handing in your notice? 5 reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

We’re in the recruitment business, so we are always encouraging people to hand their notice in. 
But only if they want to!  Reaching the final stage of any recruitment process is no accident; at the very least you’ve applied for a job, prepared for and attended an interview, and come through a salary negotiation process.

And in almost every case, you’re looking for a new job because something is wrong with your current one.

Reasons For Handing Your Notice In

You might be surprised to know that the main driver for moving jobs is not money, most of the time.  In our experience, these are some common reasons for handing in their notice:

  • Lack of career progression
  • Lack of challenge
  • Lack of training
  • Poor management
  • Broken promises
  • Itchy feet
  • Relationships with co-workers
  • Change of personal circumstances
  • The financial state of the employer

People also leave because they’re performing badly and anticipating getting the sack, of course, but if this is you, you’re reading the wrong article!

So you’ve received an offer in writing, at the salary you wanted, at a progressive company with good benefits, and you know that this is a great opportunity for you.

But then comes the biggest hurdle of all – the resignation!

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The resignation dilemma 

This area is fraught with danger, in a recruitment sense anyway.  Most people feel very uncomfortable with the idea of handing in their notice, so you’re not alone.

But why should this be?

Because – unless absolutely everything is wrong with the place you are leaving – you have built up a network of personal relationships with your co-workers, you see them every day, and now it feels like you’re about to reject them all for something else.  You may have overwhelming feelings of nervousness, disloyalty, and guilt.

But -once again – you didn’t get here by mistake!  Think back to what motivated you to look for work in the first place, and then reflect on these five reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about resigning.

5 reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about resigning

  1. It’s not personal. You’re not resigning because you want to hurt someone else’s feelings – you’re doing it for YOU.  You owe it to yourself and your family to do what’s best for you, and for them.
  2. The business would not feel guilty if it had to make you redundant. Your manager wouldn’t enjoy doing it, but it would happen anyway.  Financial decisions are driven by the shareholders of the business.  Most of the time you don’t have a relationship with them; maybe you have never met them at all.  They would make a business decision like this based on objective measures, like cost.  Your feelings are irrelevant to these.
  3. Your colleagues will cope without you. No-one is irreplaceable.  You’ll keep in touch with the people you get on with best, and you’ll move on from the others.  Think of all the new contacts you will make!
  4. Change is good! You are seeking change for a reason, and you will force some change on the team you’re leaving.  This is an inevitable part of business, and of life.
  5. If you give in to the pressure and accept a counter-offer to stay, the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place will probably still be there. In our experience, this means that you will be looking for a move again in a few months’ time, once things have settled back down to normal.  You’ll have missed this opportunity by caving in, and possibly others.

Guilt + counter-offer = pressure

Feeling guilty demonstrates that you have normal human emotions and you feel a commendable sense of loyalty to your employers.

But employers can take advantage of this, knowingly or not.  Your resignation will cause them a problem, in the short term at least.  So what’s the answer?  They sit you down and tell you all about how inconvenient and disruptive your departure will be, which makes you feel even worse!

And then they’ll offer you a way out!  They will tell you how valuable you are to them and they’ll offer you something to prove it – more money, promotion, reassigning you to more interesting work, etc.

(If you want to read more about the counter offer itself, read this article.)

So you have the guilty feeling, combined with flattery, and possibly some more money at the end of each month.  This is a powerful combination.

But you can’t let the guilt win!  This conflict will never be fully resolved, unless you address the guilty feeling.

A better way

An experienced manager will know that by the time someone gets to the stage of handing in their notice, it’s too late.  The best employers will shake your hand, wish you well, and look after you until your last day.  And they will arrange a magnificent leaving do to mark the occasion.

And a good employee will continue to work hard during the notice period, prepare a comprehensive handover, contribute to the recruitment for their replacement, and give a constructive exit interview.

You’re a good employee, and you’ve already made your decision to leave.  So grab the bull by the horns – and DO IT.