Deciding to leave a job is seldom an easy decision. However, it's a more common decision than many people may know, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the average worker holds 10 different jobs before age 40.
People change jobs for a variety of reasons. Some do so because of better opportunities elsewhere, while others simply need a change. Regardless of what's motivating a job change, leaving a place of employment can elicit various emotions, including some that may contribute to negative thoughts about a current employer. But it's always best to leave a job gracefully, which can pay dividends down the road. The following are seven strategies people can employ as they leave their jobs to ensure those exits go as smoothly as possible.
1. Watch out for social media. It's best to keep resignation plans to yourself and off of social media. You never know who is reading your posts, and bad-mouthing a soon-to-be-former employer can lead to hurt feelings and poor references. Resist the urge to rant about what's making you unhappy at work or brag about a new position to your social network.
2. Play by the rules. Your employer may have a plan in place for how the company prefers resignations to be handled. The standard two to three weeks' notice is a guideline. Visit with human resources if you need more information, such as whether or not a resignation letter or other documentation is required.
3. Speak with your manager first. It's respectful for your immediate manager or supervisor to learn of your departure first. This gives him or her ample time to put a plan in place to fill your position. The more notice you can give, the more goodwill you're building on your way out the door. Schedule a meeting for this purpose; do not make it an informal chat by the water cooler. Resist the urge to quit via email or text. Resigning requires face-to-face communication. Present a concise letter of resignation as well. Don't call out colleagues or air your grievances in the letter.
4. Announce your departure. Work collectively with your manager and other higher-ups to decide how to best handle the announcement to other employees.
5. Train your replacement and prepare final assignments. Volunteer to train or assist with getting your replacement set up. If you have any outstanding projects or documents, be sure to tie up any loose ends before leaving. Leave behind instructions or a guidebook if you think it will help your replacement perform their duties more effectively.
6. Keep the momentum. It can be tempting to phone it in as you near departure day, but this is inadvisable. Do your job to the best of your ability up until you say your goodbyes.
7. Pack on your own time. Cause as little disruption as possible by packing belongings before or after office hours. Respect the working environment, recognizing that your coworkers still need to get their jobs done.
Quitting a job can be full of mixed emotions. Just be sure to time it correctly, and leave in as positive a way as possible to maintain a strong professional network.
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