How to gracefully and professionally quit your job

How to gracefully and professionally quit your job

So you’re standing at those crossroads and you’ve made the decision to quit your job. Whether you’re going down this path vengefully or blissfully – make sure to do so without burning bridges. There are unspoken rules that are “off the books” when it comes to quitting, but first the basics…

Do: Put it in writing.

Handing in a resignation letter is standard practice. Resignation letters typically include details as to why you’re leaving. It should also include how you felt about working there and what you’ve learned since being hired.

Don’t: Email.

An email resignation reflects poorly on you. Even if you have been an excellent employee, an email resignation may cost you a positive reference.

Do: Tell them in person before handing them the notice.

The resignation letter is a formality. This is not your primary mode of communication. Your boss will want to hear from you personally that you’re quitting. By telling them in person, it gives both of you the opportunity to ask questions and understand.

Don’t: Just hand them the notice and walk away.

Maybe your boss is frightening, intimidating or just a jerk. Be brave. Tell your boss in person that you’re resigning before you hand them your resignation. If they walk into their office with a note on their desk, you will likely catch them off guard and create tension.

Do: Hand in your notice when you are level-headed and ready.

Your boss will want to talk to you about where to go, moving forward. Make sure you’re handing in your two weeks notice when you are feeling calm, ready and prepared to have a potentially tough discussion. You don’t know how your boss will react, so being in a calm state of mind will help tremendously.

Don’t: Hand in your notice out of rage.

As they call it: rage quit. You will likely burn bridges in doing so and muddy your chances in finding future jobs. You will certainly lose a good reference and cause more work and troubles for your colleagues.

Do: Give a fair amount of notice.

If you’re an employed under contract, make sure to give it a thorough read before handing over your resignation letter. Some employment contracts will state how much notice you should give if you plan on jumping ship. Abide by this time frame. If not — two weeks notice is standard and allows your employer to find your replacement.

Don’t: Suddenly jump ship.

A lot of  moving parts will shift when you leave. If your company is in the middle of a major project or transitioning to new management, your sudden abandonment may leave your work ship sinking. It’s in bad taste to leave suddenly without notice, not to mention unprofessional. You may have personal reasons to walk away without a word, but be mindful of what will remain in your wake.

Do: Be honest and sincere.

This part may be tricky — especially if your work life was unpleasant. This is the time to calmly express any issues you’ve had since being employed. If you don’t have a particular reason for leaving except that the job isn’t for you — be truthful and explain what is you wish to do after you leave. An honest and sincere explanation will show your professionalism. Your reasons may even help management gain new perspective on the worklife for the rest of the employees.

Don’t: Lie and complain.

Lying is obvious. Complaining is unprofessional and your boss may regret having ever hired you.

Do: Return any company property.

Return keys, documents, computers, phones and office supplies that do not belong to you. If there are items to which you wish to keep, items with sentimental value, casually bring it up to your boss or manager before leaving. If not, leave it with a colleague.

Don’t: Steal.

You might consider getting away with keeping a few office supplies here and there – but you could potentially spoil an otherwise graceful exit by having the company chase you down for stolen property. Don’t be that person!

Do: Clean your workspace.

This means your computer, too. Delete files and messages and return the computer the way you left it — including any computer system preferences (like desktop backgrounds and screensavers). If you have any workplace decor, don’t forget to take those too!

Don’t: Leave a mess.

Someone has to clean up your station or computer before the “new guy” gets in. Your boss probably doesn’t want to do it, and neither do your colleagues. Be courteous — do one last bit of housekeeping before you leave.

Do: Reflect kindly about your experience.

Do not speak negatively about your job. First and foremost – your colleagues still work there and talking down upon the job makes everyone look bad. Even if the job caused you great unhappiness – every job has a lesson to teach and it’s up to you to express how the job has benefited you.

Don’t: Brag about your new job.

There is no reason to make your soon-to-be ex-colleagues uncomfortable or upset about you moving on.

Do: Say goodbye.

Before you leave, take some time to say a proper goodbye to all your colleagues, especially your boss. It’s important to express gratitude and to keep in touch — you’ll never know where life will take you and who you may need for references. Your colleagues and boss will appreciate you for letting them know that you will have them in mind after you’ve gone.

Don’t: Dash.

Perhaps you are relieved to be out of that workplace – don’t leave without saying goodbye and leaving your contact information. Your colleagues will miss you — give them time to say their goodbyes, too!

Down to the last few steps before you leave your workplace, you want to make sure you exit gracefully and professionally! Even after you’ve left, keep your social media accounts quiet about your thoughts and opinions on leaving (unless they’re positive, of course!)


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