I am thinking of making a new start on a number of things this year – one is getting a new job. Do you have any tips?
National Citizens Advice helped with 2,300 problems around applying for jobs last year, with nearly half these issues (1,100) concerning references. Often people can either struggle to get hold of a reference that is suitable, or can’t get hold of one at all.
Other problems workers sought help from Citizens Advice on include when to disclose an illness to a potential employer, or how much notice they’re required to give their boss when nothing is specified in their contract.
Changing jobs is often top of people’s to-do list in January, but some can trip up because they don’t have the right paperwork.
It’s really important to get your references lined up and to pass any other checks that are required before handing in your notice. Otherwise, you could run the risk of having your job offer withdrawn and your current employer may not be in a position to rehire you.
Top tips for finding the right role and handing in your notice
Do your homework
Do a bit digging on what the employer offers to see if matches your priorities. Most employers publish their staff benefits on their website, so you can see how much holiday and parental leave you can get, and how much they pay into your pension. If they don’t have a website, contact the person who’s posted the job ad directly.
Disclosing an illness or disability
You shouldn’t be asked about having an illness or disability during the application process, and you don’t need to disclose this unless you want to. However, if you need reasonable adjustments to be made at an interview let the employer know – the law says they have to be accommodating.
Finding a new job
Temp jobs can be quicker to find and they might not ask why your last job ended.
You can use the Find A Job service on GOV.UK to look for a new job.
You might be able to get some money to help you find a new job. Read more about Access to Work grants for people with a disability, health or mental health condition at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Make sure the job fits your circumstances
All employers need to consider requests for flexible working, but they don’t have to accept it. It’s your call when to make a request about changes to working hours – you could bring it up at interview or when you’re offered the job.
Get your references lined up
An employer usually only gives a firm job offer once they’ve received one or more references.
It’s best to tell your employer you’ve been offered another job and ask them if they’d be happy to provide a reference. Keep the conversation or email professional and friendly so as to avoid any problems down the line if the job offer falls through.
If your current employer refuses or you have concerns that they may provide a bad reference, ask your new manager if they will accept a previous employer. Or you could try a school, college or university tutor if you’ve recently left education, or supervisor from any voluntary work you’ve done.
Handing in your resignation
You should only resign from your current job when you have a definite job offer, preferably in writing, rather than a conditional one. This is when you’ve passed any checks set by your new employer, and they’re happy with your references.
Check your notice period
Normally you have to work the notice period that’s written in your contract. If you don’t have a contract or no notice period is specified, by law you only need to give one week’s notice. If your new employer wants you to start the job before your notice period ends, see if you can negotiate with your current boss. However, they have the final say.
Use up any holiday you’ve got left
There are usually rules around your remaining leave. Check your contract – if it says you should take your leave during your notice period, you can either take the leave or see if your employer will consider paying you holiday pay instead. If it’s not specified, they may still ask you to take time off – but they need to give you notice to do so.
Getting a bad reaction from your employer
Most employers will handle your resignation sensibly, but Citizens Advice has heard reports where rogue bosses sack someone soon after they resign. This is against the law and you may be able to take them to court for unfair dismissal. If this happens, contact your local Citizens Advice who can help you navigate this process.
Check that you have all the money you’re entitled to
When you get your final pay, check that you have:
- all the wages or salary you were owed
- any ‘pay in lieu of notice’ if you’re not working your full notice
- pay for any holiday you didn’t take before you were fired
- any bonus, commission or expenses you’re entitled to
If you had any benefits like a company car or phone and were allowed personal use of them, you’re entitled to keep them until the end of your notice period. If they were for work use only and you don’t work your notice period (called ‘garden leave’), you have to give them back immediately.