How You Leave a Job Matters

Whatever reason brings you to leave a job, the process brings a mix of emotions.  There is likely excitement about the next opportunity and a sadness to be leaving people you enjoyed working with over the years.  There could be disappointment that things didn’t work out as you hoped and regret that you didn’t well as well as you hoped.  Maybe you are grateful for what you have learned and ready to move forward.  Whatever the circumstances, how you leave the job matters and becomes part of your legacy.

Work with your manager to define a plan of how the work will be covered.  This gives you an opportunity to transition files and documentation and to answer questions from the individual who will pick up these responsibilities.  You may be able to offer some solutions and some insights on what skills are critical to each job, how you would prioritize the outstanding work.  Demonstrate that you still feel responsible for your work and for the success of your colleagues, clients and company.  Show that you put some thought into the transition to ease the burden on those left behind.

If you work directly with clients, ask your manager if you may communicate with the clients directly.  Do so professionally.  Let them know you enjoyed working with them and explain the transition coverage to them so they will feel supported.

Book a meeting with HR to ensure that you don’t leave the paperwork and details until the last moment.  Be sure to understand the impact and dates of changes in insurance etc.

If an exit interview is offered, book one.  If not, at least do one with your manager.  Provide constructive feedback and focus on what you learned from the experience.  You have the opportunity to directly influence your legacy once you walk out the door.  If you are willing to be available for questions that arise, be clear when and how you wish to be contacted.

The world is indeed getting smaller every day.  Do not burn any bridges on your way out the door.  Exit well and you will be remembered well.

What If the Fit is Truly Wrong?

You do your homework on the company in advance.  You ask probing questions in the interview.  You network with current and former employees of the company.  You believe you have a good read on the company culture and you accept the position.  Now you have been there a few months and you realize you read it completely wrong.  What can you do?  Is it ok to leave after just a short period of time?

First priority is to learn from the experience.  What signs did you miss?  What questions should you have asked?  Figure out what bothers you most about the culture and think about to avoid it in the future.  If you don’t know how you landed in such a poor fit for you, there is a chance you could repeat the error.  Be very honest with yourself and seek to truly learn from this experience.

While job hopping is not the taboo if once was, you want to have a clear sense of what the best next step is for you.  Don’t be so eager to get out of the situation that you jump at the first job that comes along.  Have a priority list of what is important to you in your next position.  Do your homework.

Be prepared to tell your story.  With a short stint on your resume, you are bound to be asked about it in an interview.  Be prepared to address the change.  Own the mistake and show that you are doing something about it.  Try not to bash the other company or your manager in the process.  Just not the best fit for you.

Try to tough it out while you look for another position.  Unless you are in a hostile work environment or are being asked to do something unethical, it is much easier to look for work while you are still employed.  Make a commitment to doing some networking every week.  Build your target list of companies and aggressively work the process.

Early in my career I accepted the wrong job at one point.  It was very quickly clear that there was not enough work to keep me busy.  That is something that makes me crazy.  While I reached out to colleagues and offered to help, there was just not enough work.  I was also concerned about how some of the work was being done.  My biggest concerns were that if I stayed, I’d develop bad work habits, negatively impact my work ethic and could potentially damage my credibility.  I started networking immediately, built a target list of companies and soon landed a new position.  I learned a lot about what is important to me in an employer from that experience and it served me well in the long run.

If you are truly in the wrong job at the wrong company, ramp up your networking and focus on finding a job that is right for you.

How You Leave a Job Matters

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.

How to Leave a Job on Good Terms

Image Courtesy of CartoonStock.com

Image Courtesy of CartoonStock.com

How you leave a job makes a lasting impression with those you worked for and with.  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 NEVER burn any bridges.

How do you tell your boss and colleagues you are leaving?

  • Be sure to tell your boss before telling anyone else.  Give your boss 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 boss, 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 boss 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.
  • Ask your boss 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 boss or the company and it could seriously hurt you in the future.

How should you spend your last two weeks?

  • 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 boss 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 whomever will be covering.
  • Address any outstanding questions with your boss and colleagues.
  • Graciously say goodbye and thank you for the experience.

When It’s Time to Leave Your Job

How you depart a job leaves a lasting impression on those you worked for and with.  Since you will likely need a reference from that job at some point in the future, you want to leave on as positive 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.

Once you have given your notice, here are some key things to do:

  • If you don’t already have up-to-date documentation on your key responsibilities, prepare it as soon as possible so there is time for someone to review it and ask questions while you are still there.
  • Organize and label your files so others can easily find what they need.
  • Review your key responsibilities with your manager and ask if there is someone you should train on various functions to provide interim coverage.
  • Leave all your work surfaces clean.  Don’t leave personal items in your desk when you leave.
  • Be sure you let key people you interact with on a regular basis know that you are leaving.
  • Turn in keys, ID cards, passwords, etc.
  • Participate in your HR exit interview if requested.  It is a valuable opportunity for them to gather information.
  • Thank your manager as you leave for the experience you had there.
  • Clarify how you want to be contacted if they have questions – home email?  Phone, etc?

Be positive and professional from the moment you give your notice until you walk out the door for the final time.  Your efforts will be rewarded down the road by those you worked with and for as you receive positive references etc in the future.

Do you still have responsibility to that employer?  Yes.  You are still being paid by them until you leave.  It is professional courtesy to honor your commitments to the end and leave things organized and documented for the next person in that position.

Photo Via Google