How to Move on From your First Job


A step by step guide to how we think that leaving a job should be done.


Depending on the scope of career opportunities available to you, there may come a point at which you will need to seek out other opportunities. The prospect of job seeking is a daunting one and the process is arduous – you’ll be juggling interviews, dodging awkward questions from colleagues about your whereabouts and dealing with constant rejection.

With all this activity, we sometimes forget a hugely significant part of the process; resigning – the ‘break-up’. When I received the call with my first job offer a combination of relief, excitement and gratitude swept over me. A mishmash of emotions that I will probably never feel in quite the same order again. The bond between employer and first jobber is an emotional attachment that is different from that in any of your future jobs and one which, in theory, should make it one of the hardest to leave.

Of course, all that you were promised in your first role may not have been delivered and you might positively be skipping out of the front door. However, whichever category you fall into, one must be very careful when managing an exit. 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years so this is something that all ‘young professionals’ should be thinking about.

Are you Justin King or Kevin Pieterson? Are you going to leave with people wishing that you would come back or will you just go for the scorched earth approach? We would always advise you to be the former, no matter how miserable your employer made you! Below is a step by step guide to how we think that leaving a job should be done. 

  • 1. Accept another job
    If possible, hold off on resignation until you have received and signed a contract. Verbal assurances and good feelings after final rounds are all well and good but it is the paperwork that will provide you with the ability to leave with confidence.
  • 2. Tell your boss
    The moment that you know you are leaving, your boss should too. Arrange a meeting and have a resignation letter ready. If you deem it appropriate then don’t reveal where you are going – in the heat of the moment even the employers with the best of intentions can be blinded by the fact you are leaving and create doubts in your mind.
  • 3. Offer to train your replacements
    While none of this sounds like fun, it’s the best way to show respect for your employer as you prepare to quit your job. Your boss may not take you up on your training offer, but the gesture will be duly noted. Similarly, clean up your documents and projects to make it easier for someone new to pick them back up.
  • 4. Finish strong
    This may be the best thing you can do to successfully quit your first job with grace. Don’t let yourself “check out” from the job before your last day. It’s important to finish your work in a timely manner and with the same vigour as you did before resigning.
  • 5. Stay in touch
    Your past employer and co-workers are now added to your professional network, so make sure you stay connected with them. They may prove very useful in the future. Whether you are a newly qualified accountant or have completed one of the many graduate schemes in the market, your skills will be valuable.

Whilst the market is in great shape now, it won’t always be thus. Keep those relationships strong and it will help you to hedge your future employment prospects. Leave with dignity and don’t underestimate the power of relationships, later on in your career they will be vital to the success you have.

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