You’re over it. You’re ready for new opportunities. You’re ready to quit your job.
But hold one a minute. What’s your game plan? How far in advance do you plan on letting your current employer know you’re moving on? How do you plan on telling your coworkers? What’s your approach for wrapping up your current projects?
Quitting your job with grace and style can mean the difference between keeping friends, good contacts, and references, and being blacklisted by your current employer. But before you make any announcements, make sure your new gig is solid, as in paperwork signed, job opening closed…official.
If your new job is officially lined up, then it only take five steps to make a graceful exit from any job.
Step 1: Alert your boss in person as soon as possible. It might be tempting to put this off, but you will be hurting your coworkers and boss by putting it off for too long. Your boss needs time to find someone to replace you, so the more notice you give on quitting your job, the better. Keep this in mind and you’re sure to make your transition much smoother. If possible, also put your resignation in writing to hand to your boss so you have the documentation of the date. I always recommend scheduling a meeting outside the office for this discussion, and letting them know in advance you want to talk about your future with the organization so they are not 100% surprised.
Step 2: Tell your coworkers. Discuss this with your boss too, as he or she might decide to make the announcement themselves. Either way, have a contingency plan ready to share with your coworkers in the event that no one is hired in your place soon after your departure. This will leave your coworkers feel a bit more at ease about this transition and their part in pulling your weight.
Step 3: Volunteer to train the replacement and organize your projects, documents, and other files for other people to use easily. While none of this sounds like fun, it’s the best way to show respect for your employer as you prepare to quit your job. Your boss may not take you up on your training offer, but the gesture will be duly noted. Similarly, clean up your documents and projects to make it easier for someone new to pick them back up. Do you have an organizational system that only you can understand? If so, it’s time to make your materials easy to understand or make a how-to guide.
Step 4: Finish strong. This may be the best thing you can do to successfully quit your job with grace. Don’t let yourself “check out” from the job before your last day. It’s important to finish your work in a timely manner and with the same vigor as you did before resigning.
Step 5: Stay in touch. Your past employer and coworkers are now added to your professional network, so make sure you stay connected with them. It’s often true that your employer liked you more than you thought, so keeping in touch and updating them on your life and career will be appreciated. Send quick emails to see how he or she is doing every now and again–and share your updates with your former supervisor as well.
At the end of the day, quitting your job with grace includes considering the feelings of your coworkers and boss, who may be left with a pile of to-do’s because of you. Don’t feel too bad, because it happens a lot, but being cognizant of this will make your transition out much smoother.
How do you make a graceful exit from your jobs? Is there ever a case where making a less than polite exit is acceptable?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.