Want to quit your job? Feel like marching into your boss’ office and yelling “I quit,” and then picking up your possessions and walking right out the door?
Of course, you wouldn’t do that. Logic tells you that is a rude way to handle resigning.
So, what is the right way to behave when you want to leave your job?
Talk to Your Manager First
Don’t talk about your decision to resign to anyone else before you talk to the boss. Imagine how difficult it would make this transition if your manager heard this from someone else other than you. Be willing to work with him or her about the timing of your leaving, dependent upon the needs of the company.
Discuss how your departure will be communicated to the rest of the company at that time. There are a variety of scenarios. It can be announced at a meeting; you could be responsible for informing the key people in your organization. What about announcing it in an email?
It’s best not to let rumors, which can be exaggerated, start through the organization. So work out those details with your boss.
Two Weeks’ Notice
Two weeks is generally the norm. Anything else is inconsiderate.
But be willing to work with the organization and its needs unless you have a commitment to another company to which you need to adhere. Remember that the more responsibility you have and the higher you are in the organization will make it more difficult to replace you. In that case, you may need to train your replacement, so before making a commitment to another company, consider that a month’s notice might be more appropriate.
However, much more than that might be unwise. Once you’ve resigned, everyone else will consider you a “short-timer” and will potentially exclude you from team meetings, which will make it more difficult for you to function effectively.
Once you’ve resigned, it won’t be long before your other team members know where you’ve landed. You will want to maintain the relationships you’ve built.
Networking and relationships are the key to success in business. So, while you don’t have to tell everyone where you are going and what you will be doing, if you do, it will be easier to keep those relationships.
Be straight with everyone. Don’t create different “versions” of your reasons for leaving, i.e. “I hate this place and can’t wait to leave” as opposed to “I got an offer from another company that I couldn’t resist.” This will only create gossip and leave a bad impression.
Leave a Positive, Lasting Impression
No matter why you’ve decided to leave the company, it is important not to neglect how your leaving will affect your company. Your final responsibility is to work with your boss for direction and management of how you should bring your work load to a close.
Don’t leave any loose ends. You want your former employer, managers and coworkers to have a positive impression of you. That means being an ultimate professional to the very end.
Remember that even if you are thrilled to be leaving, you had experiences from which you learned and which will add to your area of expertise. So, be grateful. Be appreciative. Consider writing notes of gratitude to your boss and team members. Even if your manager or those who reported directly to you act as if you have betrayed them, soldier through it. Try to change their minds. Be gracious. This will add to the positive image you leave with them.
You might want to unload and give your opinion of everything that is wrong with the company. You know, things you wished you would have said when you were an employee.
But there’s danger there. You are never guaranteed anonymity, and unfortunately, it won’t change the nature of the organization.
Try to be positive about the people in the organization. If you had good experiences, say so. If you have constructive criticism (no venting), then offer it in a professional and encouraging manner.
Leave the Past Behind
After leaving your former job, never badmouth the company or any of its employees.
If people ask why you left your previous job, just tell them it was not a great fit. Making disparaging remarks about a former employer or co-workers in a job interview will only convince future employers that you will do the same to them.
Whatever your grievances, even if they are deserved, don’t go there with others in the future. Remain professional, and that is how others will see you. Anything else won’t win you any influence.
Keys to Remember
» Give at least two weeks’ notice and offer to work longer to create a smooth and orderly transition if your schedule allows.
» Work with your boss to figure out the best use of your remaining days and how to close out your responsibilities.
» Be grateful for what you learned at your job and openly express gratitude to colleagues.
» Don’t give different reasons to different people — stick to one story about why you’re leaving.
» Don’t be dishonest about your next move — everyone will find out soon enough.
» Don’t vent or be emotional in the exit interview. Stay positive.
» Don’t bad mouth your former company or any of its employees.
Video Advice on Quitting Your Job
(Workopolis Careers Channel video)
— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at email@example.com. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjr. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.