What is the proper way to quit your job in Germany?
There are good reasons to quit: the desire to learn something new, moving to another city, or a better offer from the competition. But sometimes you leave your work for the wrong reasons: Maybe the job was not a good fit or there were irreconcilable differences with your bosses or colleagues.
Although you may have been looking forward to it, avoid a dramatic departure with a lot of fuss and bad words, which will only give you short-term satisfaction. Don’t rush into things and don’t argue with your superiors or colleagues – they could be useful to you again.
If you are convinced of your decision to quit your job in Germany, you need to prepare your resignation properly. So we have put together what we think is important in case of a dismissal.
1. Have the next ace up your sleeve!
Your current job may be annoying you – so much so that you would like to quit right away. Even if you find your boss, colleagues, or the working environment unbearable at the moment, don’t rush into anything. Above all, don’t accept the first job that comes your way. It is better to prepare your next step calmly. Despite the good labour market situation for skilled workers and managers, it may take a while until you find the right job. The best thing to do is to get professional support. Personnel consultants know the current market conditions and can therefore give you ideal advice and support you in changing jobs. By the way, this service is free of charge.
2. Know your notice period!
For a successful and legally valid termination, there are some deadlines to follow. Maybe it has been a while since you signed the employment contract. Check again exactly what notice periods are stated there. It would be a shame to have to tell your new employer that you cannot start on the planned date.
However, it is important to know your notice period and to respect it. It would be a pity to lose your new job immediately just because you have to work a few more weeks at your old company because of a missed notice period. You can find your notice period in the employment contract or collective agreement.
An exception applies during the probationary period: both employer and employee can terminate the employment contract at any time during the probationary period without observing any deadlines.
3. Respect the formal criteria!
For a resignation to be legally valid, it must be in writing and signed. An oral notice or an e-mail is not sufficient. Of course, your employer may accept other forms of termination than a hand-signed one – but to be on the safe side, you should not rely on them.
Use the word ‘resignation’ explicitly in your letter, for example in the subject line, and write that you are terminating your contract properly and on time. You do not need to give a reason unless your contract documents state otherwise.
Make sure that the letter arrives by sending it by post with an acknowledgement of receipt or, ideally, have the receipt confirmed in writing when you hand it over.
Here you can find some examples of termination letters that we have prepared to help you.
4. Prepare your notice interview properly
A notice is like a break-up, to keep good relations with your employer and good memories of your work, you must do things properly.
Once you have prepared your resignation letter, you must inform your boss of the right terms. Make an appointment with her/him, taking enough time to discuss it properly. You will inform the rest of your team and your colleagues later.
You do not have to give reasons for your dismissal. Nevertheless, explain the real reasons to your manager without going into too much detail. This will leave a professional impression and keep the door open for a later possibility.
5. Don’t be too critical!
Even if you have successfully resigned and can hardly wait for your last day at your old job: Avoid talking negatively about your actual employer. Even if you never want to return: your superiors or colleagues may cross your path again later. Therefore, it is better not to be remembered with bad style, but to take your hat with decency and dignity.
Also take the time to say goodbye, e.g. with a collective email. Do not hesitate to personally thank the people with whom you have worked closely and who have always supported you.
6. Think about the reference!
You are entitled to a reference and should ask for one. It is best to express your wish for a reference directly when you give notice. The reference is another reason why it makes sense to hold back on expressing displeasure with your previous employer even after you have resigned – some bosses might be so annoyed with you that the evaluation in the reference is worse than it should be. This is not professional, but superiors are only human.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is better to leave your job if you already have leads for a new position, or if you have already found a new job.
If you still have doubts about whether you should quit your job in Germany, you can take our quiz «Should I quit my job ? » we have prepared for you.
We have also written the article, “Should I quit my job? The SMART goals” to help you decide and know where to start.
You have given notice, or are you about to do so? Here, you can download a sample notice of termination free of charge. Or take a look at our opening jobs.