There are a variety of circumstances under which you may decide that it’s time to move on from your current role and seek employment elsewhere. However, even though you may be ready to move on, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Keeping this in mind, here are a few tips for leaving your job the right way.
Maintaining professionalism, being as helpful and respectful as you can
It’s important to be mindful throughout this process, both because you should always strive to leave a good impression in your professional life and because it is common that you may need recommendations from your former colleagues in the future. Assuming you’re leaving simply because you feel that it’s time to have a change in your career, keeping a sense of comradery with your colleagues shouldn’t be very difficult. Moving on is a natural part of nearly anyone’s career and is certainly a part of life in general. Your colleagues should understand. But, let’s face it, sometimes the decision to leave your organization comes with some awkwardness – how you conduct yourself during this period can make all the difference in mitigating the awkwardness or, conversely, damaging the potential to keep your current colleagues in your professional network in the future. Even if you’re unhappy with how you’ve been treated at your current organization, don’t give into the temptation to ‘get even’ in your last few weeks. Your future self will probably thank you.
Getting into some more specific tips now, the first is to always ensure that you’ve given your two-week notice. This is an expectation held by virtually any employer. These two weeks exist to help ease the transition and to give your employer a head start on finding your replacement. Failing to give sufficient notice will probably result in lost money for your employer, and at minimum it will guarantee increased headaches for your boss. All in all, this is not the impression you want to leave. Also, avoid including unused vacation time to cover any of this two-week period. There are likely to be loose ends to tie up before your last day, so your presence at work during this period is still essential. Finally, for your own benefit, consider building in at least a day between when you start your new job and leave your old one. This is usually as simple as planning ahead when you accept an offer at a new organization – ask for your start date to be set at least slightly longer than two weeks from the day of your offer.
Letter of resignation
Finally, we’ll address the letter of resignation. In many cases, it is appropriate and professional to draft a formal letter stating your intentions. This is not an opportunity to vent – in it, you should state what you expect your last day to be, that you’d like to be compensated for your accrued vacation balance (if you have one), if you would like them to extend your health benefits through the COBRA program, and anything else (assuming you’re fine with it being in writing forever).