If you are planning to quit your job, you need to realize that the way that you handle leaving can impact the way you are perceived by your former co-workers and managers, as well as impact your professional reputation overall. It's important to conduct yourself professionally and ethically when you announce your intention to leave, while you are working out your notice, and even after you have departed.
Ten Best Practices for Leaving a Job
1. Notify Management First
Give your supervisor respect by telling him or her in person that you are giving up your position with the company before you share the news with your co-workers. This will help control the grapevine and keep your boss from having to deal with unconfirmed rumors related to your intentions. Additionally, going directly to your supervisor shows proper consideration.
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2. Put Your Notice in Writing
While it is advisable to have a face-to-face conversation with your manager notifying him or her of your plans to resign, you should also submit a written letter of resignation. This letter serves as a formal notice of your plans to leave, and it should focus specifically on the facts. Do not use this letter to air grievances or complain. It will become part of your personnel file and serve as documentation of your plans to resign, something that can serve as protection for you and your soon-to-be former employer in the event of miscommunication.
3. Give Proper Notice
When you inform your supervisor that you are leaving, give proper notice. Check your employee handbook to see if your company requests a specific amount of advance notice and comply with the policy if there is one. If there isn't a specific policy, it is considered a best practice to offer to work out a two weeks' notice. If you fail to give proper notice, you may forfeit some benefits and/or eligibility for rehire. Depending on your position and the circumstances, the company may or may not want you to work out your notice, but you should at least offer.
4. Discuss Your Resignation With Affected Co-Workers
When notifying your boss of your resignation, ask if it is okay for you to share your plans with the people you work with who will be directly affected by your leaving. Unless your boss asks you to hold off - which he or she might do while making plans on how to best replace you - go directly to the people you work closely with, and tell them that you have resigned before they hear about your plans through the grapevine.
5. Take Care of Your Business
Don't leave projects or ongoing tasks in a mess that will be difficult for others to sort out. Use the time after you give notice to tie up any loose ends, complete projects where possible, and prepare co-workers to step in and take over on things that cannot be completed before you leave. Offer to train the person who will be handling your duties after you leave to ensure continuity within the department.
6. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
Your attitude should remain positive and professional when notifying your boss of your intention to leave, as well as when communicating with your co-workers once they have learned of your resignation. You should not speak badly of the company or do or say things that might encourage your co-workers to think badly of their employer or of you, based on the way you handle yourself when leaving.
7. Be Tactful
Once you have turned in a notice, people will probably begin asking you questions about why you are leaving, how much money you will be making in your new job, etc. Show grace and tact when responding to these questions. You should not air your grievances about the company with co-workers who are staying with the organization, nor should you gripe about compensation and benefits or brag about how much more you will be making with your new company. Doing so demonstrates a lack of tact and professionalism on your part, and it's not appropriate.
8. Cultivate Positive References
Regardless of the reason you are leaving your position right now, you never know what the future may bring. You may need references from company management or former co-workers in the future, or you may even find yourself working with people from the company you are leaving in a future job. Ensure that the way you conduct yourself as you exit is beyond reproach. This way each person you worked with can only have positive things to say about you and how you handled the process of leaving your job.
9. Follow Legal Obligations
Make sure that you are aware of any legal obligations that extend to you beyond your terms and conditions of employment. For example, you may have signed a non-compete agreement or confidentiality agreement at some point during your tenure with the company. Make sure that you know what is in these documents, and be sure to follow them throughout the time you are leaving and afterwards. If you don't still have the paperwork, you may want to ask the HR department to provide you with a copy of any agreements you signed that extend beyond your time of employment. They can be included in your exit package.
10. Express Appreciation
Before you leave, near the end of your notice period, take the time to let people who have been particularly helpful to you throughout your time with the company know that you appreciate their assistance. You can choose to express your sentiments in person, or even write thank you letters to leave with these individuals. While this is not necessary, it is a nice thing to do and can help preserve relationships with people who have been very important to you throughout your tenure with the organization.
What People Remember
Keep in mind that the way you behave when leaving a job will create a lasting impression that can impact how co-workers and former managers remember you long term. Handle yourself with nothing less than the highest standard of professionalism regardless of the reason your are leaving.
If you were in a bad situation, there is no reason to spread negativity on your way out the door. Doing so will send more of a message about you than the place where you worked. Instead, make sure that anyone you used to work with can only say that you conducted yourself appropriately and respectfully to the end. This will go a long way toward preserving relationships that may be beneficial to you in the future and ensuring that your reputation stays positive in the business community.