Published: Feb 10, 2016
Here at Vault, we are dedicated to helping you find ways to get hired, from drafting a cover letter to laying out the perfect resume, to finding your future employer. But at some point, you’re probably going to quit your job, either for a new position or to take a break (temporary or permanent) from the workforce. And according to the Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), we’re quitting left and right. The report indicated job quits have risen to almost 3.1 million, the highest in nine years.
So if you’ve got a new job lined up, have grown exhausted by your current job, or are just plain unhappy with your career, here’s some advice on how to quit a job gracefully.
Leave for the right reasons. As Suze Orman said of her own decision to leave her self-titled show of 13 years, “if you stay on for the wrong reasons, your eventual exit will likely not be on your own terms. By taking the initiative to recognize I needed to move on, I have had the great experience of leaving without regret or acrimony.” If your career seems stalled, your worklife lackluster, and you find yourself ultimately unchallenged, it may be time to look for something else. Avoid leaving for purely a pay raise, a job title, or a company’s name but rather for the job itself.
Leave when you’re on top. The best time to make an exit is following an accomplishment, or a time that allowed you to show your commitment to the job and company. By doing this, not only are you leaving a good impression as you move on to other things, but whoever you choose to be a reference will intuitively think of you in a good light and will (hopefully) praise your work and dedication to your future employer. Don’t forget that with the help of the internet, employers can look up anyone from your previous job and get in touch with those that you did not list as references. The best way to ensure anyone from your previous employment paints you in a good light is to quit at a time when your work speaks for itself.
Resign in a timely fashion. Don’t leave in the middle of a huge project or right before an important deadline is due. If you get hired for a new job, let them know during the interview process that you may need a little more time than the expected two weeks. By staying on to finish anything that your current employer may need your expertise on, you ensure the gratitude and respect of your current boss. In addition to this, make sure that your boss is the first to find out about your resignation and that this news comes straight from you and not HR or other coworkers.
Be fair to colleagues. Give a comprehensive description of your workload and how it is to be handled so that whoever has to continue it can do so with as much transparency as possible. By doing these things, your coworkers will appreciate not having to pick up your workload without a clue of what to do when you leave. If you find out who will be your replacement, find time to walk them through what they will be doing so that the transition will be easier for both the new person and the company. If asked to help hire your replacement, do so with enthusiasm.
Stay gracious. Thank your team for their help and support throughout your time working with them. If your relationship with teammates was rocky and less than friendly, at least make an effort to let them know of your departure. Although mood in an office may shift once this news has been made public, stay as courteous as possible until the very end. Be extra thankful to those that you enjoyed working with, those that mentored you, and whoever else may have constructively influenced your time at the company. Remain positive about your experience and what it offered you to move forward and further your career.
Remain cool. Follow HR protocol and don’t curse anyone out. The boss from hell? The coworker that made your daily life miserable? Breathe deeply and remain as professional as possible. You are leaving and there is no need to rant or run anyone down on your way out. Avoid gloating about your new job or giving too many details, rather focusing on your work until the very last day. Persistence and dedication are something that leaves a lasting impression on even the most disagreeable colleague.
Show honesty in the exit interview. But don’t burn a bridge. The person who debriefs you will want to know about your experience, if and where there was conflict, and what worked in your opinion. During this interview, do not treat it as a confessional; do not spill out all your anger by bad-mouthing the boss or trashing your colleagues, especially since you may want to use a few of these for references in the future. Instead, pinpoint areas that could use improvement and offer possible suggestions. This can go a long way for the company in developing the role further and improving it for future candidates. In addition, give praise where it is deserved. A good compliment goes a long way and may even reach whoever it is that you complimented. It’s always good to leave on a positive note.
Keep in touch. Although you may have left, stay in the loop with what your former colleagues are up to and how the company is doing. Not only do you not know what will come in the future, but it is good to never burn any bridges. Follow up with old work friends and make an attempt to reach out, no matter how busy you may get.
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