Quit your job without burning bridges

I was an expert guest for this article by Lauren Schumacker, published September 26 2018 in Business Insider


Leaving a job, no matter the reason, can be difficult and bittersweet. When possible, you’ll want to try to leave on good terms with your soon-to-be former employer and fellow employees.

Here are some tips for leaving your current job without wrecking your office relationships.

1. Make sure you tell your boss before you tell your colleagues.

When you make the decision to leave, it can be tempting to share that news with your friends at work, but it’s important to tell your boss first.

“Let your boss know as soon as possible after you’ve made the decision to leave,” Molly Hetrick, a credentialed coach and workshop facilitator, told INSIDER. “Regardless of your existing relationship, it’s important that your boss have time to digest the news, and that you have time to wrap up your work.”

2. Give plenty of notice.

Chances are, you already know how much notice you should generally give your employer before leaving your current gig. If you guessed two weeks, you’re right.

“If you are not rushed to begin your next opportunity, consider offering more than the standard two weeks notice,” Monica Yeckley, a healthcare recruiter and staffing professional for Vaco Memphis, told INSIDER. “If you have proven to be a valued resource, replacing you will probably be difficult.”

If you’re jumping from one position to another, however, two weeks is enough notice to give and you might not want to give more than that.

Dave Sanford, the EVP of client relations WinterWyman, wrote that staying longer than the standard two week period can be difficult for your new boss and company to handle and can be confusing or disrespectful. It’s up to you to gauge the situation.

3. Make sure the coworkers you want to keep in touch with will have a way to reach you.

“Give them your new contact information, connect with them on LinkedIn, whatever — be sure to reach out again once you have left your position,” Lisa Sansom, the owner of LVS Consulting, told INSIDER.

“Don’t be offended if they don’t stay in active touch — we all know that life can get busy. Just a nice email after you have left to let them know that you appreciated your time working with them, what you enjoyed about your connection and time together, etc, can say a lot.”

4. Explain your reasons for leaving in a positive and constructive manner.

Above all, make sure that you keep your exit positive. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t explain your reasons for leaving, however.

“When announcing to your manager that you are quitting, be clear on your reasons for doing so, and do not blame other people or talk about petty things, like if you didn’t like the coffee in the common kitchen,” Sansom said. “Talk about what you are looking forward to in the future, and what you learned from this organization that you will take forward with you.”

5. Let your boss know you’re leaving in writing, not just verbally.

You might think that telling your boss in person or over the phone that you’re moving on to something else is preferable to writing, but it’s still a good idea to get things written down.

“Prepare a concise and well-thought-out letter in hand, and remember to say ‘thank you’ to your employer for the opportunity,” Yeckley said.

Your letter doesn’t need to be lengthy or all-encompassing, just something that explains what’s going on while acknowledging your gratitude for the opportunity.

6. Make a list of all of the things that you currently do in your position.

Since your boss might not know exactly what you do each day, it’s good to be clear about everything you did while you were there, Hetrick said.

Before you leave, make a list of what you currently do — all that falls under your job description and anything that you did that’s outside of your typical responsibilities — so that the team knows what needs to be covered and the person coming in after you has a clear idea of what they need to do.

7.  Offer to help find someone to fill your role.

If appropriate, it’s also nice to offer to help the company find someone to fill your current role.

“Leverage your connections and referral network to find people who can bring the same expertise on the table as you did,” Ketan Kapoor, the CEO and co-founder of Mettl, told INSIDER. “Assist your boss or recruitment teams to find a competent hire as your replacement soon and watch your trust quotient skyrocket.”

If you offer to help find someone new and the company declines your offer, that’s fine, at least you know that you tried to be considerate instead of leaving them in the lurch.

8. Make your colleagues’ lives easier, not harder.

“Make sure you leave excellent documentation for your colleagues who will pick up your work when you’re gone,” Hetrick said. Remember that other people will have to cover your work after you leave until someone else is hired to replace you.

Being as considerate as possible of that when you’re preparing to leave makes you look better than if you leave all sorts of unfinished business and unorganized files behind.

9. Stay positive on social media, too.

Don’t be overly negative when speaking to your boss or anyone else at your current company about why you’re leaving, but don’t vent or complain online, either.

“People also tend to vent on social media — even if it’s ‘vaguebooking'” — and that shouldn’t ever happen,” Sansom said. “First of all, it’s bad for your professional reputation. Secondly, most people don’t remember who can see their posts — are you sure you don’t have any coworkers or colleagues who can see that? And then, if it is on someone’s screen, anyone can take a screenshot and send it along to your boss, for example. It can come back to bite you so easily — now or at any time in the future. Nothing is safe or secure or private out there. Nothing. So don’t vent on social media. Don’t even vent when you think you’re hiding all of the details. Just don’t.”

It’s not worth burning that bridge or ruining your own reputation by carelessly venting on social media.

10. Keep working hard until your very last day.

After you’ve announced your intention to leave, it can sometimes be tempting to slack off a bit, but if you’re hoping to leave on a good note, working hard until your last day is a better way to go.

“Treat your final days like any other typical day and perform no differently than if you weren’t leaving,” Yeckley said. “It’s understandable that you’re thinking toward the future and [are] excited about your new endeavor, but continue to produce and give it your all. A good lasting impression will keep that bridge from burning.”

 

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