How to Quit Your Job Gracefully

By Sydney Arnett, Marketing Specialist for DRI & DCA

Congratulations! You just accepted a new job. You’re so excited about your new opportunity and feel like you are on cloud nine. But suddenly it hits you…now you have to quit your current job.

The last impression is the one people often remember. A graceful exit can keep your reputation fully intact and preserve valuable relationships. A bad one can do the exact opposite and cause serious damage.

In fact, we have worked with candidates whose ungraceful exit came back to bite them in the rear 20 years later! This prevented them from getting their dream two decades later. Moral of the story: leave with your reputation and relationships intact and don’t burn any bridges.

Don’t worry—follow these ten steps to exit your current job in a graceful manner that is professional and will leave your reputation and relationships intact:

  1. Write your resignation letter. It’s always preferable to put your resignation in writing. Think of your resignation letter as a short thank you note. Keep it simple and positive. Thank your employer for the job they gave you, and state that you’re moving on to a new opportunity.
  2. Determine your “story.” Think carefully about how you will explain your departure to your manager and coworkers. When asked why you are leaving, give general reasons, such as a better opportunity or a better fit for your family.
  3. Give adequate notice. Providing at least a two-week notice is the norm. Depending on your role and how many people you oversee, it may be more appropriate to give three to four weeks’ notice.
  4. Plan how you’ll transfer your responsibilities. Don’t leave your boss swamped with unfinished work. A well-documented transition plan signals that you care about leaving the company in a good place.
  5. Tell your manager first. Your manager deserves to be told before anyone else, so refrain from saying anything to coworkers until you’ve met with your boss. Reach an agreement with your boss on how others will be told.
  6. Quit in person and bring your resignation letter with you. It’s always best and most respectful if you resign in person and can provide closure.
  7. Be prepared to be escorted out by security. About 15% to 20% of employers do so occasionally depending on the circumstances—i.e. if your new employer happens to be a direct competitor of the company where you currently work.
  8. Be prepared for the exit interview. The exit interview isn’t an opportunity to take jabs at anyone or to vent years of frustration. In exit interviews, give more positive than negative feedback. However, it’s fine to share constructive criticism.
  9. Follow up with colleagues. You might write notes or email messages to former coworkers to say that you enjoyed working with them. Considering setting a lunch date one or two months in the figure with four or five colleagues you value most.
  10. Work hard until your last day is over. The best way to ensure you leave on a positive note is to work hard at your job and at ensuring a smooth transition right up until the time you’re walking out the door. You don’t want your last few days to leave a bad impression on your coworkers; that may come back to haunt you later.

The most important thing to keep in mind when quitting your job is to remain professional throughout the process. Be on your best behavior so you’ll leave the company on a positive note, keeping intact your reputation and relationships and leaving the door open for future employment and ensuring a good job reference.

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