In business, it’s not uncommon for people to quit their jobs and move on to different ones. After all, not every job is the right fit for every person, and it’s a benefit to both the company and the employee that someone who’s a wrong fit realizes it and moves on (before they have to be asked to move on).
However, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to resign from a position. Quitting the right way ensures that you haven’t burnt a bridge with your soon-to-be-past employer. This often means that employer would be willing to be a reference for you in the future, but more importantly, it means that a potential future employer won’t get wind of your not-so-stellar quitting practices. The world is smaller than it seems, and you never know who knows who. So, if you’re thinking about leaving your current job and moving on, here’s the right way to do it…
1. Give Proper Notice
No less than two weeks is appropriate here, and if you’re in a leadership role, at least a month is suggested. No doubt, the role you play at your current company is important, and giving less than two weeks notice not only hurts your employer, but also all of your co-workers who are going to have to pick up the slack for your last-minute resignation. Giving less than two weeks notice is a fast way to make many of your co-workers resent you and will ensure you’ve burnt the bridge with your employer.
The employees who have left my company on the best terms took it a step further and gave even more notice — sometimes before they even had another job lined up to let us know it was coming. Perhaps not every employer will be as flexible as we are, but I would prefer to have an honest discussion with an employee when they’re feeling it’s not the best fit so we can work together to plan their exit. It’s beneficial for everyone involved and makes the send-off a more positive experience overall.
2. Discuss it With Your Boss in Person
It’s common courtesy to schedule a meeting to tell your boss in person when you’re planning to leave. It’s an important conversation and not one that’s meant to be done via email for a couple key reasons. First, you never know how quickly that email will be received, and you don’t want to leave that message to change. And second, it’s simply respectful to do it in person. It shows a level of maturity and professionalism that your soon-to-be ex-employer will appreciate. After all, would you want to be fired via email?
3. Don’t Phone It In During Your Final Days
Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you can slack off and simply collect a paycheck for a couple more weeks. It’s important to work together with your employer to ensure that all loose ends are tied, and the remaining team will have everything they need to be successful when you’re gone. Even if you’re a little bitter inside, slacking off on the tasks you need to wrap up doesn’t just hurt “the man,” it hurts all of the people that have worked by your side during your time with the company. Someone else is going to have to pick up that slack.
4. Be Positive
Just because a company isn’t a great fit for you doesn’t mean it’s not a great fit for a whole host of other people who better align with the culture. Making a point to be overly negative in your final days in an attempt to get others to jump on your bandwagon will eventually just make you look like an asshole to everyone who has to witness it. People are smart enough to know when you’re just trying to take the ship down with you, and being negative will only burn bridges with your co-workers. Instead, finish out your days on a positive note, and you’ll find that people take the stance that they’re excited for you in your next adventure — your employer included!
5. Show Gratitude
Perhaps you’re leaving because you dislike your boss or someone else on the team. However, there are surely multiple people on the team you’re leaving behind who deserve your gratitude. Make a point to thank those that have helped you along your journey with the company before you depart. Showing gratitude to those that deserve it will ensure you leave a positive impression on them. After all, anyone in your previous company can serve as a reference for working with you.
6. Be Honest in Your Exit Interview
When it comes time for your exit interview, be honest with your employer about the things they can improve to make a more positive work environment for the co-workers you’re leaving behind. You have nothing to lose at this point, so have an open conversation about why the company and/or position weren’t a right fit for you and how you think it can be improved in the future. As an employer, I find exit interview feedback to be incredibly valuable, so give it as your final parting gift.
Have you quit a job in the past? What’s been your experience?