As life changes go, quitting a job ranks among the most exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a leap into the unknown, regardless of whether you’ve got a new position all lined up or you’re leaving to begin the hunt for new opportunities. Here are seven expert tips to take a little of the stress out of your transition and help you quit your job with class.
1 Weigh the pros and cons.
Job stress can cause us to make impulsive decisions. It’s a good idea to take a step back and get a little perspective before you decide to jump ship. Take time to weigh the pros and cons of leaving. Is looking for a new job the best option? Can you afford the down time?
If you already have a new job in your sights, how does it compare to your present position? Keep in mind that money isn’t necessarily the only factor you’ll need to weigh; things like benefits, commute time, and opportunities for advancement are also critical. If you’re not certain about your new job prospects, you may want to determine whether your current job can be salvaged before you call it quits.
2 Prepare to give the required amount of notice.
If you have an employment contract, now is the time to look at it and see if you’re required to give a certain amount of notice. If you’re not contractually obligated to give more, two weeks’ notice is customary.
If your job requires very specific skills, and you know there’s no one available to readily replace you, it’s good form to give more notice. That way, your employer will have more time to bring in someone new and get that person trained.
3 Draft a resignation letter.
Before you tell your boss that you’re leaving, draft a resignation letter. Treat the resignation letter as a legal document terminating your employment. It will likely go in your HR file and become a permanent part of your record.
Don’t burn bridges! You may well have criticism for your boss or the company, but save constructive feedback for your exit interview. Your resignation letter should be straightforward and positive. Tell your boss that you intend to resign and when your last day will be. Discuss any transition plan you have or are willing to make. Thank your boss for the opportunity. You don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation about why you’ve chosen to move on, so keep it simple.
4 Schedule a meeting with your boss.
Yes, the conversation may be difficult. And yes, you’ve carefully crafted a resignation letter that iterates the same news. Even so, it’s best to tell your boss that you’re leaving in person.
Keep the meeting professional. Future employers are likely to contact your boss for a reference. And, even if you’ve already found a new job, remember that you’re not the only one who makes career changes. You may well encounter your boss somewhere down the line. It’ll be better for both of you if, the last time you worked with him or her, you left on good terms.
5 Tell your coworkers personally.
Once you’ve informed key players like your boss and HR, it’s time to let your co-workers know that you’re leaving. Anyone you work closely with deserves your personal touch. Don’t leave folks to wonder and speculate when they see you packing your desk.
It’s a good idea to thank your mentors and anyone who’s helped you along your career path personally, too. A handwritten thank-you note is a kind, memorable gesture.
Remember, social media has eyes everywhere, so it’s important to leave on good terms with your colleagues. You’ll be counting on them for things like LinkedIn recommendations and references.
6 Make a transition plan.
Some employers will ask you to make a transition plan. Even if they don’t, you should have at least a rudimentary plan to help someone fill your role if your tasks are particularly complex. After all, no one else understands your day-to-day process like you do. Here’s what The Muse recommends that a simple transition plan include.
- Who will own each of your projects and tasks moving forward? Don’t leave anything out, no matter how small it may seem!
- When will each of your projects and tasks transition to their new owners? Ideally all of these transitions will happen at least a week before you leave so that you have a bit of a buffer.
- What specific tasks will you complete before exiting your organization and how long you will each action take? Make sure not to forget administrative steps like exiting paperwork.
If you’re training someone to replace you, remember to keep your interactions instructive and positive. Even if you’ve had some challenges with your company or supervisor, now isn’t the time to share them. Grumbling about your job responsibilities to the trainee who is about to fill them will only leave him or her with bad feelings. Instead, try to impart some wisdom to help the trainee meet the challenges you faced. Making work life better for the next person should be your goal.
7 Don’t forget last-minute details.
Leaving a job once you’re established can be a more involved project than you might imagine. If your company has a human resources department, be prepared to ask questions. Before you leave, make sure you look into any benefits you may be entitled to, such as unused PTO. Figure out what happens to your 401(k) and sort out how things like health insurance are handled.
Some companies will conduct an exit interview. Although this is a good time to give feedback about what the company can do to retain employees, remember again to keep it constructive. You may encounter your boss or others from your company down the road, so scorched earth policies are never a good idea. It can be helpful to prepare in advance for exit interview questions, especially if you’re aware that you’ll be personally interviewed rather than asked to fill out a survey. The Balance offers a sampling of exit interview questions you can expect.
Best of luck with your new career venture!