Compared to any other transitional stage in your career, quitting time is the one filled with the most landmines. Unlike when you start working at a company, a time when you’re fresh and full of energy and new ideas, quitting time often comes when you’re burned out and ready to snap. Check out the following tips to make sure you leave your current job gracefully and impress your new employer in the process.
Quit Before You Explode
The best way to leave a job is on a good note. If you’re unhappy with your job right now it’s time to either start building an exit strategy or start working to improve things where you are. Don’t simmer until you’re acting out at work, doing your job half-assed and otherwise passive-aggressively trying to stick it to your boss. It will ruin whatever relationship you had with your boss and coworkers. Quit before people want you to get the hell out. Photo by mansee.
It Isn’t All About You
The first rule of quitting is that it isn’t all about you. You might hate your boss. You might even hate a few of your coworkers. Dislike for said boss, coworkers, or even the company at large is no reason to be a jerk for the duration of your notice, to sabotage your coworkers projects, or to otherwise be a thorn in your employer’s side. Now isn’t the time to throw a fit and pull an Office Space on the fax machine.
Give Ample Notice
When you leave a company you’re creating a vacuum, however big or small, and your boss and coworkers are going to have to work around that. Don’t make life harder on everyone else in the office. They’re just as stressed and overworked as you are. Give your boss ample notice that you’re leaving. Two weeks is pretty standard and a bare minimum. If you work in a specialised industry where it’ll be hard to find a replacement giving a month or longer might be appropriate. Photo by djayo.
Not only does giving your current employer ample notice help smooth your exit it also makes you look good in the eyes of your future employer. When you accept your new job you can be clear that your start date is dependent on giving your old employer adequate notice; your new employer wants to see that you can leave your old job gracefully.
Be Clear and Honest on Your Motivation for Leaving
Being honest doesn’t mean responding to your boss’s inquiry “Smith, why are you leaving us?” with “because you’re an arse face” but it does mean being polite and forthright. It means not playing any sneaky games with your employer even if your time with them is coming to an end. Keep things polite and simple. “I’ve received an offer with another company sir; I feel there is more room for me to grow there and a more flexible schedule to spend time with my family” is a direct and honest response. Never outline your reason for leaving in the context of what your boss or company isn’t and instead outline it in terms of what it is that you need: a place to grow, more flexible hours, a chance to take a stab at your dream of doing something different.
Write a Professional Resignation Letter
A good resignation letter is as important as a good résumé. Put as much effort into leaving your company as you did trying to get in. Resignation letters should always be positive. It doesn’t matter if your boss is a hooker-slaying embezzler that is out to ruin your life. Keep things polite and leave on a positive note.
At minimum your resignation letter should include a polite thank you for the opportunities you had at the company and a firm date for your departure from the company.
If you’re leaving the company on good terms and/or you want to leave gracefully, you should also include an offer to help ease your transition out of the company (training a replacement, for example). You should also consider including a reason if you’re resigning on good terms, such as you’re leaving to spend more time with your family or pursue your dream of teaching English as a Second Language in rural Japan.
Above all else keep your resignation letter professional, to the point, and polite.
Keep Your Mouth Shut Until It’s Quitting Time
This rule is multidimensional. You should keep your mouth shut about quitting until you’ve formally resigned and notified your boss and the HR department. It is horrible workplace etiquette to leave your boss to find out you’re quitting from a third party. If you sit around the water cooler muttering about quitting not only do you look foolish but you lower morale for other employees and you give your boss a potential reason to can you before you make your own exit. After you’ve formally resigned you should also keep your mouth shut (for the most part) until you’ve left the company. If fellow employees have a question or two about where you’re going or stop to wish you well, certainly chat with them. But don’t make your last month at your old job a massive venting period. Your boss might be a monster but he’s a monster that everyone else has to keep working for. Photo by Shawn Rossi.
Network but Make a Clean Break
Make sure everyone has your contact information in whatever form possible (phone number, LinkedIn profile, etc.). Your old boss and coworkers are part of your workplace pedigree and history. Unless you have an extremely compelling reason to want to fall off their radar completely it’s helpful to have some way of contacting them. Maybe a year from now somebody in your department with have a question or two. Maybe after you leave a few of your coworkers will realise that it’s time for them to move on too and want to catch up with you over lunch. Being around to answer the occasional question about the way you did things or point an old coworker in the right direction is just good form. You’re making a clean break but you’re also keeping communication open. If you start getting more than a few harried communications from past coworkers, however, it’s time to remind them that you don’t work there anymore.
The Ultimate Goal is Harmony
When you’re weighing any decisions regarding how and when you’ll leave your current employer, take a big picture look at the situation and make sure you’re not missing anything. Are you giving them fair notice? Are you aware of any conflict between your new employer and your old one? (You don’t want to create bad blood between two tightly enmeshed companies; you might need to do some extra smoothing over.) Photo by Steve Johnson.
Above all resist the urge, however strong, to lash out. You’re leaving. You quit! You’ve punched your ticket and you’re just waiting for the train to arrive and take you to New Job Land. You have absolutely nothing to gain by causing upset and social contacts, job references, and good will to lose by lighting the torches. Put a smile on your face and truck through the last few weeks knowing that everything you hate about your job: your boss’s passive aggressive requests, his harpy of a secretary, the broken copier, your coworker that tries to dazzle you with stupid trivia, all those things will be gone. Keep calm and carry on.