Leaving a job is never easy. Even if you’re thrilled to be giving your notice and leaving for those proverbial “greener pastures,” you can’t gloat or make others feel like they’re stuck at a lousy company. In a terrific Daily Muse post titled “4 Steps to Leaving a Job With Your Relationships and Reputation Intact,” freelancer writer and career consultant Jennifer Winter offers some advice on making a graceful exit. Read on for a summary of what she suggests.
1. Keep It Positive — You don’t have to come in for much longer, but your coworkers do, so don’t talk smack about the company. Negativity will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, so tell your colleagues and teammates they’re doing a good job. “If you’re on your way out, it helps everyone if they feel like it’s a tough decision for you and that you feel you’re leaving a good organization,” Winter writes.
2. Tell People Face to Face — The first person you should meet with is your boss, but after that, schedule one-on-ones with the people you’ve worked with most closely. Tell them how much you’ve valued their professionalism, and thank them for what they’ve helped you achieve. By taking this key step before the news of your departure goes public, Winter writes, you’ll “assure you have strong supporters long after you’ve moved on.”
3. Don’t Leave a Mess — Giving your notice doesn’t give you license to slack off your last couple of weeks. Tie up loose ends so that others aren’t left doing work you neglected. Winter suggests using the “hit by a bus” test, where you think about things your colleagues couldn’t easily figure out were you to suddenly, well, get hit by a bus. This might require some extra work — perhaps even on nights and weekends — but people will remember how thorough you were.”Remember the tasks that stressed you out the most, then make sure you’ve given them the tools to handle those tasks with ease,” Winter says.
4. Don’t Linger Your Last Day — As Winter says, your last day will be awkward, so plan to leave early and skip the long, dramatic goodbyes. Before you go, though, be sure to leave behind contact info, so that people can reach you. If you don’t want to share this info via mass email, leave it with one person and tell everyone they can grab it from him or her. “Keep it light and social,” Winter says, “then head for the door.”