By Noël Rozny
Web Editor and Content Manager
Whether you’ve loved your job from day one of you’ve been digging an escape tunnel under you desk for the past three years, eventually the day arrives that you leave one job in pursuit of a new opportunity. How you leave a job, though, can be just as important as what you did while you were there: a bad exit can undo all of your hard work and even tarnish your professional reputation. Here is some career advice for how to put in your resignation gracefully so you don’t burn any bridges you may need down the road.
Career Advice Tip #1: Tell Your Boss First
Most of us have a best friend at work, and if you’re going to be leaving a company, it might be tempting to tell that person (and a few other favorite co-workers) that you’re making an exit. But in case you haven’t noticed, even the best, most professional offices tend to resemble high school cafeterias, complete with cliques, tattletales, and gossip that spreads like wildfire. Do yourself and your boss a favor and let him or her know before you tell anyone else. If word gets around that you’re leaving before you have a chance to formally tell your superior, it could hurt your chances of getting a reference or recommendation.
Career Advice Tip #2: Give Appropriate Notice
We all know that two weeks is the standard amount of time you’re expected to give before you leave any position. But if you’re in the middle of a major project, or if you’re in an upper-level position that will take awhile to fill, additional notice will be greatly appreciated by your employers. For senior level positions, giving four to six weeks is a generous notice that will give your employers the lead time they need to start finding your replacement. If you’re in the middle of a major initiative, try to see the project through to completion if possible.
Career Advice Tip #3: Offer to Help Find Your Replacement
While it’s certainly not required, offering to help find your replacement will be helpful to your employers and ensure you leave your position on good terms. After all, no one knows your position better than you, and by putting out some feelers to your professional, social and alumni networks, you may be able to find a great candidate for your job. If the match works, you’ve not only helped out your previous employer, but a business contact who may be able to turn around and help you in the future.
Career Advice Tip #4: Document Everything
You might work in an office that has process documents and charted workflows for every assignment, which means your successor will have a roadmap for doing your job. If you’re like most of us though, your day-to-day projects and duties may not be written out in a step-by-step, “how to” format. Take the time to create these documents before you leave your position, and then share them with your boss. If it’s going to be awhile before they have someone to replace you, make sure that someone in your office knows how to do the daily, crucial aspects of your job that could stall your organization if they’re not done correctly.
Career Advice Tip #5: Write a Resignation Letter
If you’re office doesn’t have a set of formal HR policies, make sure to write a letter of resignation and give a copy of it to your boss and hiring manager to put in your file. While it may not seem necessary, especially if you have a good working relationship with your employers, this protects you in the future if anyone wants verification of why you left your position.
By following the steps above, you’ll leave your employer in a good position to find your replacement, and yourself in a good position to get the recommendations and references you’ll need for your next career move.