NEWS + ADVICE
7 Tips for Leaving Your Job
We’ve all probably thought about a dramatic exit from a job that we didn’t enjoy. You tell everyone exactly what you think and why things are so dysfunctional. Maybe even with “Shove This Jay Oh Bee” from “Office Space” or Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It” as your background music. Then the other employees clap, cheer and high-five you as you make your exit.
Realistically those situations only play out well if you’re in a movie.
Taking a scorched earth exit does no one any good, beyond creating a story that will get shared endlessly. When leaving a position many of us are ready to move on, not burn bridges.
How do you leave a job gracefully?
1. Make sure you’re really leaving before telling anyone.
Finish all negotiations and have a written offer that you have accepted before communicating to anyone in the organization that you are moving on. Or if things are so bad that you’re quitting before finding a new position – which depending on how in-demand your skills are can be a tough strategy – be sure that’s what you really want to do.
2. Give some thought to your exit.
Prepare for meeting with your supervisor by giving some thought to the best transition plan for your exit. Your supervisor may ask for your advice on the transition. Or they may not want your input, but be a prepared professional nonetheless.
You probably already know if you work for an organization or in a position where anyone quitting is asked to leave immediately. If that’s the case with the company you work for, remove any personal information from your electronic devices and gather your personal effects before you give notice.
More likely you will be expected to work for at least two more weeks. That’s another consideration as you don’t want to give too much notice. Beyond two to three weeks notice you’re viewed as a short-timer by co-workers, and you are ready to move on as well.
Make a list of routine work, unfinished projects, important contacts, login credentials – whatever the folks who will be filling in for you will need to function until you are replaced.
3. Tell your immediate supervisor before anyone else.
Communicate that you want to be part of a successful transition. Write a very simple and straightforward resignation letter stating that you are leaving and that you appreciate the opportunity you were given with the company. Your corner of the cleared community is probably smaller than you realize, so leaving on good terms is your goal.
I once made the mistake of seeking advice on a new position I’d been offered at another company from a mentor I worked with. Without my knowledge that mentor talked to my supervisor as well as the company president to develop a counteroffer before I’d given notice. My immediate supervisor felt betrayed. It became a massively awkward situation. I still left, but it was by no means graceful.
4. Have the conversation with your supervisor in person.
If it’s not possible to talk in person, call and discuss your exit live. Quitting via voicemail, text or email is not the way to handle the situation, no matter how appealing it may be. Be honest, but don’t be negative. And minimize the information you share about your new job. Save your venting for your friends and family.
5. Talk to your HR contact.
Make sure you know what forms you may need for benefits and any other standard out processing at your firm by checking in with your HR contact. Be ready to turn in company property and don’t make them chase after you.
As C. Martin commented on one of our previous blog posts:
As a courtesy to your old firm, always turn in your keys. A man left our firm (in Iraq), and did not turn in his keys. We were stuck in the Iraqi desert, no way to get new keys.
6. Don’t overshare information before you leave.
Be careful what you tell your co-workers about why you are leaving. If your contract end is in sight, it’s pretty straightforward. A short statement about a surprise opportunity or a planned career change is enough. Minimize these discussions and remain focused on doing a good job and completing your work while you are still with the organization.
7. Don’t update your social media profiles until you make the move.
If you share information about your new job online of course you’ll keep in mind operational security, but don’t say anything bad about the company you’ve just left. Trashing your previous employer is viewed very dimly by hiring managers and recruiters. And you may need the help of those hiring managers and recruiters again in the future.
Take a break if you can swing it. Of course the hiring manager wants you immediately. But giving yourself a break so you can recharge and organize and really be ready to tackle that new job is a better strategy.
Keep in mind throughout your exit process that you may run into your supervisor or co–workers again. Another contract or another company, you just don’t know where life may take you. Remember that as you exit and work to maintain the professional relationships you’ve built.
And to help you get started in that new position, check out these articles on getting started: