In this English podcast lesson, you will learn the common English words and phrases that we use when we leave a job. You will also learn some interesting idioms and stories that will help you remember why some words and phrases may be used. As you’ll see, some expressions have changed little for a 100 years.
So, you are looking for English phrases to use when you leave your job? We have all the phrases you will need right here. From creating a great first impression to making sure you have everything you need to hand, this article has examples of the formal language used during the process, as well as colloquial versions that can help lighten the mood. This lesson also features amusing stories about why some of our most common phrases are used.
There are several phrases that can describe how you announced you were leaving your job. We break down the most common words and phrases used when we leave our job for good, discuss the reasons they are said, offer some example sentences with translations, and even offer some insights on how you might use them yourself.
Leaving your job is usually an important step in most people’s lives. It's difficult to know exactly what to say, but it is even more difficult finding the words to say what you mean when you are in this situation! This podcast not only helps clear up the language used but also covers some amusing real-life anecdotes that might help to make your own conversations about leaving work easier.
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Today we’ll cover some English phrases about work, about jobs and leaving your work, leaving your job. This is really, really useful vocabulary. And don’t forget, if you like this podcast, there are 74 more available online – and hundreds and hundreds of podcasts to download from our website at adeptenglish.com. You can download them in bundles of 50.
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So the usual phrases for getting a new job are quite serious ones. But when we talk about losing your job, there are some more slang or informal phrases in use. I’ll talk about those and their origins, but first let’s do a reminder, some revision on words and phrases for getting a job in English. So ‘a job’, or ‘work’ is ‘what you do to earn money’ – so you might be a teacher or an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer – or you might work in a shop or a factory or for your local government. Those are all jobs.
A photograph of a man who's decided to look for a new job. Let's explore some common English words and phrases that are used when workers leave a job.
So the normal process when you want to have a job, to have work, is that you ‘apply for a job’. ‘To apply for’ something means that you request it, you ‘put in your application’, that’s ‘APPLICATION’. If you need a visa to travel somewhere, you would have to ‘put in an application’, or ‘apply for it’. And the same with a job. You might do this with your CV or your resumé or you may have to answer their questions instead.
If your application is successful, you are likely then to be invited for interview. So an interview, INTERVIEW is the meeting you have to determine whether you’re the right person for the job. And in this process of interview, you are called ‘the candidate’.
The word ‘candidate’, CANDIDATE means you’re a possibility, you may be the one chosen for this job. But there are of course, other people too. If the person who interviews you, likes you, they may want to ‘offer you the job’ – so they make you ‘a job offer’. Then you need to decide whether or not you’d like to take the job. And if you do, we’d say that you ‘accept the job offer’ and then you’d be discussing your ‘start date’ – when you start work, with your new job. And if you do, we’d say that you ‘accept the job offer’. And then you’d be discussing your ‘start date’, when you start work with your new job.
You would agree what you’re going to be paid, your salary, SALARY – that’s an important one. And your ‘terms and conditions’ – what are the rules for your employment – like how many days holiday you can have. So this type of vocabulary, these words and phrases we’ve covered already in a previous Adept English podcast, number 454, ‘Common English Words Used in Job Interviews’. We did it there in much more detail.
So what about phrases today for when you are told to leave your job? Well, there are perhaps three or four different ways to leave a job. Not a very happy thought perhaps, but these are still phrases worth knowing – and of course, it depends how you leave your job.
Often people might feel that they’ve done a particular job for long enough and they’d like to move on, go and work somewhere else. In this case, the person would normally find another job, go through that interview process as I’ve described and accept a job offer. Then, in their current job, they would have to ‘give notice’ or ‘hand in their notice’. You would probably do this with a written letter.
‘To hand in your notice’ means that you’re telling your boss, your current employer ‘I’m going to leave’. It’s a formal process – because you have a contract, a legal agreement in place, so normally you would write to them and tell them formally that you’re going to leave. So ‘to give notice’ is the expression we use to tell them formally. And your ‘notice period’ is that period of time between telling them and when you actually leave.
Another way to leave your job – you might be offered what we call in the UK, ‘redundancy’. That’s REDUNDANCY or we might also say you ‘make someone redundant’ – that’s the adjective. So that’s when your job stops existing. This may be very upsetting and very stressful, especially if the person wants to keep that job. But sometimes redundancy is offered, when there are too many people working in an organisation – more people than are needed.
So people, employees may be given a choice to ‘take redundancy’. And sometimes people like this, because they often get paid some money to leave. And if that person can just go and get another job or perhaps start a new career, taking redundancy can be a really good thing. It may help you start a new career, a new business, a new direction.
If you have to leave your job because you’ve done something wrong or you’re not very good at your job, then the formal word we use for that is that you ‘get dismissed’ or that you face ‘dismissal’. So ‘to dismiss’ someone, that’s DISMISS – you end their job, you stop them working for you.
That means that you’re told that the organisation you work for ‘doesn’t want you any more’. That’s hard, that’s harsh. And there are also some slang or informal expressions that we use for this too. There’s ‘to get the sack’ or ‘to get fired’. Both of these have interesting stories behind them.
So the idiom ‘to get the sack’ means ‘you lose your job’, ‘you’re told to leave your job’ by your employer. And if you hear this phrase, it generally means ‘immediately’, leave the building now! That’s in contrast with working ‘a notice period’ – that length of time after you’ve told your organisation you’re going to leave and when you do finally leave.
That’s your ‘notice period’. But if you ‘get the sack’ – no notice period! You just leave straight away. Why is it called this? Why this idiom? Well, it comes from a time when workers brought their own tools – that’s TOOLS – tools for the job, their own equipment if you like. And a workman would perhaps keep his tools in a ‘sack’, SACK or a bag. So in French ‘donner le sac’ – became ‘to get the sack’ in English.
You’re told to ‘put your tools in your sack and go!’ So even where your job doesn’t require you to have specific tools, we still say you ‘get the sack’ or even you ‘get sacked’. That means you lose your job.
An alternative phrase for this – you might hear someone ‘got fired’. So ‘to get fired’ means the same thing – you’re in trouble for something, you’re seen as doing something wrong and you lose your job. Think of the TV series, The Apprentice. The US version was famous for Donald Trump’s part, even before he was president. And the UK version of this programme had Alan Sugar for a long time, who would point at one of the apprentices, one of the candidates on the programme and say ‘You’re fired!’.
The origin of this phrase seems to be with an American company, NCR or National Cash Registers from around the period of 1910/1920. The manager of this company, John Henry Patterson was famous for being a very controlling and unreasonable employer. On a couple of occasions, when John Henry Patterson dismissed employees of his company, he arranged for the person’s wooden desk to be carried outside – and the desk was quite literally ‘set on fire’. The employee was ‘fired’ as their desk went up in flames!
And a funny story to help you remember this phrase as well – which shows how English idioms can lead to confusion. Some years ago, I remember discussing at the dinner table about how someone was ‘going to be fired’ from their organisation.
We didn’t really notice at the start that my daughter, probably aged 5 or 6 years old at the time, was listening. As the discussion continued, we suddenly noticed that her eyes were getting wider and wider. And she asked ‘Really – is someone going to be fired?’
We realised that she was taking the conversation literally – and thought that we were discussing someone literally being ‘set on fire’ because they weren’t doing their job properly! Thank goodness that doesn’t happen – thank goodness it’s an idiom!
Anyway, all of that is some useful vocabulary, related to jobs and the workplace – useful to anyone. And I hope by the way that I’ve told it to you, you’ll remember some of those words and phrases – especially ‘to get the sack’ and ‘to get fired’.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.