How to leave your job gracefully

The way your leave your job should be as professional as the way you started it. In all honesty, you’ll likely be remembered for how you left your employer. Was it an abrupt short notice or giving the time to help transfer your workload?

Leaving a job requires some finesse and understanding that the image you leave behind will be waiting on you the next time you need a previous employer for a reference. Burning bridges is not a good strategy no matter how you feel.

Granted, there are some cases in which leaving a job will be a difficult decision and no matter how professional you are, your absence will put a strain on your employer. I never will forget the time a manager recalled one of their team leads quitting in the middle of a project, leaving him in a bind for several weeks virtually doubling his workload.

The way he found out? The employee didn’t show up for work and a couple of calls later resulted in an explanation he had received a job offer he couldn’t refuse. Just the mention of the employee’s name brings a sigh years later. That’s the opposite of how you should leave your employer, sneaking off with no ownership in acknowledging the significance of your responsibilities.

Just as “leaving in the middle of the night” strategy is a mistake, so is letting go all of the resentment built up with your job. This is not the time, even though you may think you have nothing to lose to tell your boss exactly how you feel. Personalizing your departure in a dramatic way will not help you nor anyone else.

You could have worked for the most toxic boss that ever lived but that shouldn’t give you free reign to talk about how bad they were or how they made your life miserable. What you can do is prepare ahead of time and if asked during an exit interview, give constructive suggestions.

Rather than talk about what you didn’t like about your job, focus on what you learned from it. Every job gives you an opportunity to learn and grow. The bad jobs along with the good ones, all contribute to your skill sets and help shape your future career.

Be aware that your colleagues will probably want to know what happened, where you are going, or how you landed your job offer? Your influence on them could impact their attitudes in a negative or positive way depending on how you present your new opportunity.

Leaving gracefully means letting your employer know ahead of time. Two weeks is usually the standard practice and you should offer to help them with the transition if needed. Most bosses want the best for their employees and another opportunity makes sense if it matches your career goals.

You don’t have to tell your employer where you are going unless you have a legal reason to do so, such as a non-compete. Your focus should be on the positive side showing gratitude for the opportunity they gave you.

Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions on what they could do better in retaining employees but be sensitive about it.

Telling your boss in person shows maturity and professionalism. The goal is to leave in a graceful manner that supports your style and the way you want to be remembered. The marketplace is a much smaller space than you may realize, and at some point, you are likely to meet your employer again whether it’s a trade show or professional event.

You want to have solid references now and in the future, leaving on good terms is one way to set that in motion. Give some thought to your resignation letter by preparing ahead of time and being sincere. A letter is good way to send a positive perception and leave your employer with a good memories.

What makes leaving a job as important as starting one?

Kim Thompson