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How To Leave A Job On Good Terms

January 1, 2022

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Career

So, you’re thinking about quitting your job…congrats on making the difficult decision! While it’s important to leave situations that don’t serve you, I am a big believer in making connections and maintaining those connections, even after you leave. No matter how big the world may seem, it is very small and burning bridges can be a great detriment to your career.

Leaving a job is tough and some people in your company may take it personally and get offended. In October 2021, I proudly left my job on great terms with everyone and here is how you can too.

It boils down to 3 main things: your communication, your transition, and your exit.

Communication

Let’s begin with communication. The way you let people know you are leaving can make or break the relationship.

  1. Tell your manager first and tell them in person. 

    While you typically must write a formal letter of resignation, give your manager the courtesy of telling them in person before they just receive an email from you saying that you’re quitting. If you work from home, set up a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting to discuss. This is common courtesy! Think of it as if it’s the end of romantic relationship. Would you like to be broken up with over text? If not, give your manager the same courtesy of telling them to their face.

    This includes telling them before you tell coworkers because it truly sucks if they hear it from a co-worker before you.


  2. Don’t make it personal.

    I know I just compared this situation to a romantic relationship which is very personal, but when you tell them that you’re leaving, make sure you’re honest and do not make it personal.

    When I quit, I was panicking about what to say so I asked my mentor. She told me not to make it personal at all and to use phrases such as “As I expressed previously”, “I appreciate all that I’ve learned at the firm”, “I think my skills would be better utilized elsewhere”, “It’s time for me to move on”. Leave the emotions out of it and get straight to the point.

    If you’re like me and still stressed out at the thought of this conversation, write yourself a script lol! It is helpful when preparing and keeps you focused on the important part of the conversation.

    If you’re a great employee, when you quit, expect to receive a counteroffer but be steadfast in your decision (unless the counteroffer is what you want of course). Turn them down nicely, for the same reasons as mentioned previously.


  3. Communicate To Colleagues & Key Stakeholders

    Have you ever had someone you thought you were close to leave the organization and you didn’t find out until the day before? Or have you been working on a project and received a bounce-back email from someone on the team who had decided to leave the organization unannounced?

    This happens more often than you think and can leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. They feel like you left them high and dry.

    Tell the people you care about within the organization that you’re leaving, and do it before they hear it through the grapevine. I know a lot of people don’t do this, but I feel a bit shocked when I hear that my coworkers quit from an email that was sent to everyone. It’s kind of like going online and seeing that your friend got engaged and you’re hearing this while the rest of Instagram is. It’s not personal of course and you’re happy for them but…ouch?!

    When I quit my job, I emailed and/or called every single person who had made an impact on me during my time at the company. I personalized the email, telling them how much I loved working with them, thanking them for their impact on me and expressing my desire to stay in touch. I then included my personal contact information and told them not to hesitate to reach out at any time. While it was time-consuming, it was definitely worth it.

    This same concept applies to those who you are working on a project with. The bare minimum would be to let them know that you’re leaving and redirecting them to their new point of contact.

Transition 

Now let’s discuss the transitionary between when you’ve given your notice and when you leave the firm. These weeks can feel like forever, but here is what you should do during that time:

  1. Don’t Check Out!

    There is a tendency to check out and do nothing during this period, but if you’re being a nice co-worker, I suggest making the hand-off to the next person as easy as possible.

    Try to finish all outstanding projects, make introductions between your coworkers and key stakeholders, and if you can, create a detailed transition document so they know where to find everything.

    To take it a step further, offer to train the new person if they will be there before you leave, or offer to help hire your replacement. 

  2. Give Adequate Notice!

As a rule of thumb, in Canada, you need to give at least two weeks’ notice when leaving a role. This can be even more in the UK and other parts of the world. I’ve seen people leave on Friday and say they’re not coming back on Monday. That’s not ideal and is a slap in the face to your coworkers who remain. Try not to do this.

I personally gave 3 weeks so that my team had enough time to transition everything and so that I could train everyone. This is not mandatory and not always feasible.

Exit 

Now, the part we are all looking forward to – the exit. When you finally leave a job, leave gracefully. 

  1. Offer Constructive Feedback

    If you have the option, have an exit interview and provide your feedback to the higher-ups in a constructive way. Do NOT bash or speak down on anyone, but if you truly want to make the organization better for those who come after you. Try this! This truly depends on the type of organization you have. If you don’t think any change will come, save your breath.
  2. Make Your Leave Graceful and Smooth

    Clean off your desk/working area and return all the employer’s equipment in good condition before leaving. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people leave their desks a hot mess. This is quite inconsiderate so try to avoid that. If you’re working from home, luckily you don’t have to clean up any spaces, but attempt to return the equipment in a timely manner. Say thank you to everyone and then move on!
  3. Write a Goodbye & Thank You Post on LinkedIn 

    When you leave the organization, write a goodbye post on LinkedIn! This signals that you’ve left the firm on good terms and lets future employers know that you’re available to be hired! You can detail what you’ve learned at your workplace, how grateful you are for the opportunity, and if you have a new venture/role, make sure to plug that in. 

Here is what I wrote when I left.

Overall, remember that your network is valuable and can open doors for you that you never knew existed. People I met in the corporate world have connected me with opportunities now that I’m not an entrepreneur. Cherish them and try as best you can to maintain the network.

If you enjoyed this post, check out this video where I discuss it in detail.

Wishing you all the best in this next phase of your life! Let me know how it goes ☺ 

xo,

Reni

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