End Well: Leaving A Job Right

February 25, 2014

When the time comes to leave a job, no matter what the reason, it’s important to do it well—so as to avoid “burning bridges.” If you’re leaving under good terms, you’re going to want to keep those relationships intact. If you’re leaving under… less-than-good terms, it’s still a good idea to keep relationships as intact as possible. You never know when you’re going to need to rely on past references, relationships, and networks. In fact, it’s highly likely that you’ll need those things in future employment pursuits. If it’s time for you to move on, for any reason, read through some tips to make the transition out of your current job as easy as possible!

The first step to leaving a job well is giving notice. You should let your boss know first (before other coworkers!) and at least two weeks before your last day. You should also inform your boss in private—schedule a meeting to let him or her know if possible. Once you’ve let your boss know your intentions to leave, be sure to discuss how they’d like to handle announcing your departure. Some employers don’t mind you immediately telling coworkers, whereas others might like to develop a plan to accommodate your departure before sending your coworkers into a “Well who’s going to do such-and-such?!” panic. Also, while two weeks is the standard timeline to give an employer, in many cases, it’s helpful to give as much notice as possible so he or she can make a plan, shift workloads around, find a replacement, and train the new person! While you may be phasing out of the position, it’s going to take some work to fill your shoes!

Once you’ve told your boss that you’re moving onto the next chapter in your employment, keep a good attitude about your job. You’ll likely get good-natured “short-timer” jokes from colleagues & coworkers, and you might even start to lose motivation to do your job well. Don’t give in! Keep up the good, hard work that helped you get & keep the job. Focus on doing your job, and preparing the company for your absence—that might mean training a new employee, or helping transition your regular tasks to a coworker. Your first impression got you the job, and your last impression will likely determine how that employer will handle reference requests & recommendations. Remember: how you leave your job CAN effect your future employment.

If you’re leaving a position because you’re unhappy or there are workplace issues that you need to get away from, don’t vent to coworkers or on social media. No matter what your privacy settings are, you never know what connections others have that might affect you—and your connections with coworkers from the past… and future… may be important down the road! Keep it civil, don’t criticize, and certainly don’t attack bosses, coworkers, or the company you’re leaving on any social media.

Finally—be sure to say goodbye to the people you’ve been working with. If you have access to company email, send an email briefly letting folks know where you’re going & how they can contact you. You may need them as references down the road—and they may want to use you as one!

While your past does not dictate your future, with a little care, you can certainly build a past that will help, and not hinder, your future! Keep in mind—ending well can be just as important as starting well!

Best of luck on your new adventure!

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