Breaking up is Hard to Do
There's a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over - and to let go. It means leaving what's over without denying its value. ~ Ellen Goodman This article is not about why someone leaves a job but how. It assumes a quality relationship between an employer and an employee who wishes, for whatever reason, to leave their job and move on. Change is hard, even in the best of times. Mixed feelings are often the norm as going forward can feel both adventurous and scary, especially as you tie up loose ends. Before you say, “I quit…” Validate your reasons for leaving. Does the reason you signed on no longer exist? Are you ready for greater challenges? Is a long commute wearing you down? Having a clear picture of why you are leaving will not only help you say goodbye but also help you face the challenges of transitioning into a new position. If your situation is less than ideal, don’t be tempted to burn your bridges by spouting off sour grapes. Retaliation makes one look small and petty. There is a lot of truth in the adage “what goes around comes around.” Besides, it won’t be your boss but your peers who will pay the price of your blaze of glory. Maintaining a professional attitude is always best. That means:
- Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your employer and try to offer at least two weeks’ notice. Not only is two weeks is standard, but it also will give your employer time to find a replacement, as well as allowing you a chance to say goodbye to colleagues and leave on a positive note. If you have a flexible start date for your new position, your current employer may request you stay on until a task is completed.
- Discuss your performance. While no one likes criticism, use the exit interview to understand how you can be even better in your next job. If relevant, ask if your boss will write you a letter of recommendation.
- Put your resignation in writing, keeping it simple and succinct. It should state why you are leaving, thank your current employer for opportunities presented to you, and close with respect.
- Return all items belonging to your employer: IDs, key cards, equipment, and files.
- Leaving on good terms? Politely ask your employer for references. Ask your boss to write you a letter of recommendation, if appropriate. This can help if the job you are going to does not work out as you hoped.
- Offer your boss a recommendation on LinkedIn. Do so in a timely manner.
- Write a thank-you note to the CEO for assisting you in your career advancement.