How to Exit Your Job the Right Way (Even if You Hated It)

So here is the good problem. You have a new job! Your current and now old job situation had become unbearable, or you were just ready for a better opportunity. You were proactive, and have found new employment. You have been able, in this crazy job market, to maintain your current employment, to get your resume together (always a good idea to have constantly updated), network or seek a job opportunity, interview and get the offer. Bravo!

So now you have to give a start date to your new employer and give your current employer notice. How much notice, how do you tell, and who do you tell?

How much notice?

If it is a job you hate, your work is not mission-critical, and possibly you are moving to a competitor, you may be asked to pack your desk up immediately and walked out the door. I had a friend that had a job she loved, but her boss changed and the job changed. She needed to get out and resigned, offering to stay as long as two months to transition, but her new boss told her she could leave at the end of the week. Be prepared in advance that the day you give notice may be your last day.

However, standard notice is two weeks.

Consider where you are in the pay period and when you will be coming into your new employer’s pay period. Educate yourself and decide what is best on both fronts; give priority to new employer.

If you are working on a huge project and you are in the middle, summarize your project status into a document, one page if possible. Organize your summary with the following headings:

  • Tasks that you have completed.
  • Tasks that are mid-process indicate what action still needs to be taken.
  • Tasks you have yet to begin.
  • If you can, identify other parties responsible and their contact information.
  • Deliverables that are expected and due dates.

This one document that summarizes your recently completed work and your outstanding work will show your current employer that you are not leaving him high and dry. Most importantly, it should allow you to leave in a shorter time frame. The document should also shield you from calls after you have left, since you will have already provided necessary information. Ideally, you would like to provide this document to your employer when you give notice.

I say give your current employer reasonable notice; if you can prepare to be gone and get your document together, you should be able to give a one week notice.

Who do you tell?

Should I tell my immediate supervisor or human resources? Check your company intranet and determine your company’s policy regarding termination. You need to know if you need to provide something in writing.

Out of courtesy, I advise you to tell your immediate supervisor and your department’s HR contact (some paperwork may need to be completed)

If you have a relationship with any senior management or mentors, I advise that you let them know you are leaving the company. These are folks that may continue to be a reference and mentor relationship. Don’t burn these bridges!

When you give notice, many employers will ask you the name of your new employer. The purpose is to determine if you are going to a competitor. I don’t see any reason not tell the name of your new employer.

How do you tell?

No matter how you feel about leaving – be professional. Professional means, hopefully during your job search you did not tell all your business to your co-workers, and broadcast the blow by blow of your latest interview on Facebook or Instant Messenger. Here are 10 tips for your consideration:

  1. Don’t gloat – your goal is not to burn any bridges.
  2. Be discreet.
  3. Keep the details of your new job to a minimum.
  4. Many people will ask your new salary – don’t tell them.
  5. Simply say “I am moving on to an new opportunity.”
  6. Congratulations on your new job and good luck on your exit.
  7. Remember: Prepare to leave prior to giving notice.
  8. Know that when you give notice that may be your last day.
  9. Find out your company exit process – do you need to submit something in writing?

Be discreet – don’t gloat – don’t burn any bridges.

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