NEWS + ADVICE
9 Tips to Help You Leave Your Job
Ever thought about a middle-finger exit from a job that wasn’t a good fit? You let management and your co-workers know exactly what you think before dropping the mic and walking out in a slow-motion music-video-style exit.
That may be a fun fantasy, but you know it doesn’t work in real life.
More realistically, what’s the best way to move on and maintain the bridges you’ve built?
1. Are you really leaving?
Using an offer as negotiating leverage for your current position rarely ends well. Is it really just about the money, or are there other reasons you’re unhappy in your job? This strategy works on rare occasions, but often both parties have a bad taste in their mouth from the process unless changes are made beyond salary.
2. Tell no one until you have signed a written offer.
Be sure you have signed a written offer before sharing with anyone that you’re leaving. Better to simply tell no one vs swearing them to secrecy. Don’t make any announcements based on a verbal.
3. Think about a transition plan for your position.
Who’s going to take over your responsibilities when you leave? Gather your thoughts about the best way to bridge the gap until you’re replaced by having your recommendations ready. Make a list of routine work, unfinished projects, important contacts, login credentials – whatever those who fill in for you will need to function until your successor is in place. Your manager may not want your input, but be prepared either way.
4. Do you need to be ready to walk out the door once you give notice?
You likely know if you work for an organization or in a job where folks who quit are asked to leave immediately. It’s not that common, but if it’s a possibility, make sure you’re prepared to do so.
Everyone’s situation is different, but in general two weeks’ notice is the norm. Beyond two to three weeks and it’s an endless good-bye. Your co-workers will immediately start looking beyond you once you’ve give notice.
5. Tell your manager first.
Share that you want to be part of a successful transition. Write a simple resignation letter stating that you’re leaving and that you appreciate the opportunities you were given with the company. The cleared community is small, so leaving on good terms is important.
I made the mistake of seeking advice on an offer from a mentor at my company. That mentor talked to my manager as an EVP to develop a counteroffer before I’d even given notice. My manager felt betrayed. I still left, but it was ugly.
6. Have a live conversation with your manager.
While it may not be possible to have a face-to-face discussion, it’s important that this be a live discussion. Voicemail, email or text is not how you should do this, no matter how appealing those options may be! Be honest, but don’t be negative. Don’t talk too much about your new job, and save any venting for your friends and family.
7. Talk to HR.
Be sure you know what forms you may need for benefits and any other standard out processing. Be ready to turn in company property and don’t make them chase after you. C. Martin shared his experience:
“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.”
8. Don’t overshare details.
Be careful what you tell your co-workers about why you’re moving on. If your contract is ending, it’s pretty straightforward. A short sentence about an unexpected 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’re still with the organization.
9. Update your social media profiles after you’ve left.
Wait till you are out the door before updating any online details. If you do share info about your new job online, keep in mind operational security, but also don’t bad mouth your previous employer or co-workers. Nothing is to be gained, and you may shoot yourself in the foot.
Take a break if you can. Your new manager probably wants you right away, but taking a break to recharge and organize so you can tackle that new job is often a better strategy.
Keep in mind throughout your exit process that you may run into your manager or co–workers again. Another contract or another company, it’s bound to happen. Remember that as you exit and work to maintain the professional relationships you’ve built – build bridges, don’t burn them!
And to help you get started in that new position, check out these articles on getting started: