How you leave a job makes a lasting impression with those you worked for and with at the company. Since you will likely need a reference from that job at some point in the future, you want to leave on as positive a note as possible. It is also an amazingly small world these days and you could easily cross paths with those former colleagues in the future. Best policy is to NEVER burn any bridges.
How do you tell your manager and colleagues you are leaving?
- Be sure to tell your manager before telling anyone else. Give your manager the courtesy of letting him/her know first.
- Be honest without being overly negative or critical. Tell them a bit about the exciting new opportunity and what you will be doing. Give them highlights of what caused you to consider other alternatives.
- Once you have notified your manager, submit an official resignation letter for HR. State that you are leaving and share the date, not the reasons.
- If required, schedule a formal exit interview with HR.
- Thank you manager for the opportunity you have had there and what you have learned. Ask if he/she would be a reference in the future.
- Ask how you can best spend your last two weeks – suggest documenting processes and procedures, documenting outstanding projects, training others on the team.
- Always give at least two weeks notice. If you are higher in the organization and have been there many years, you should give a one month notice.
- Ask your manager if it is ok to tell your colleagues.
- When telling your colleagues, stay as positive as possible. There is little be gained by bashing the manager or the company and it could seriously hurt you in the future.
How should you spend your last weeks on the job?
- If your current responsibilities are not already well documented, prepare as much documentation as possible.
- Compile a list of any outstanding projects or issues.
- Provide a list of where to find critical files on the computer.
- Organize and label for your files so others can find what they need easily.
- Work with your manager to identify any training you need to do with colleagues to provide coverage.
- Coordinate with your manager how you should notify customers or vendors you work with to ensure that they know who to contact once you leave.
- Don’t leave any personal items in your desk or your office. Leave your work space clean and well organized.
- Participate in an HR exit interview if requested.
- Clarify how you want to be contacted if there are questions once you leave – home email? Phone?
What do you do your last day?
- Ensure that everything above has been completed.
- Turn in any keys, ID tags, passwords, etc.
- Update your voicemail and email with appropriate contact information for whoever will be covering.
- Address any outstanding questions with your manager and colleagues.
- Graciously say goodbye and thank you for the experience.
Unprofessional exits are remembered long after the person leaves the company. It is a small world, and you will likely need references someday. Resist the urge to let them know what you really think and exit in a professional manner. You will be glad you did down the road.