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How To Positively Leave Your Job

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If you decide to quit a job, keep your eye on a positive and clean exit – no matter how you feel or what your reasons. Unfortunately, this will be the hardest possible time to remain calm and upbeat – but you absolutely must. What you do at work as you leave the organization is as important as what you did during your entire tenure there.

Don’t burn your bridges.You might feel like telling off the boss who made you miserable or quitting without notice, but that could hurt you down the road. You may need this company or its people someday, not only as references, but as potentially valuable contacts. The old “gets along well with others” trait from grade school will serve you well, whether you are working in a different company or if you decide to go into business for yourself. Show generosity by sending friendly thank you notes to bosses and colleagues who have contributed to your growth and development. Notes also provide an opportunity to subtly remind people of the contribution you have made to the company. Also, get telephone numbers and email addresses of your colleagues, if you don’t have them already. These steps are great ways to build bridges in the weeks leading up to your departure. After all, old colleagues and bosses could end up as new clients or new bosses sooner or later.

Don’t use your letter of resignation to let the top management know “what’s really going on around here.” It is likely that they won’t understand your point and your reputation will be ruined. The same advice goes for the “Exit Interview.” if your company uses that tool. Nothing negative you say will be recorded – and you could ruin the good standing you worked for years to get and keep. There is nothing to gain by being negative.

Do write a letter of resignation expressing gratitude for the time you were with the company. It may be hard, but try to think of something for which you are thankful. Remember that you probably gained new skills there. Show your appreciation for the opportunity to learn. In your letter, emphasize that your decision to leave is based on personal career needs.

Don’t let your work slump or broadcast your bad feelings while you are looking for another job. Be discrete about your job search. Continue to produce a high level of quality work. If you don’t, you could damage your reference from this company and your image with other companies that contact this one. Doing a poor job and bad-mouthing your employer can also get you fired. That won’t look good on your resume and you will never be able to change it.

Do give at least two weeks’ notice, offering to complete as much work as possible in that time. Prepare a small packet with a schedule of anticipated work for the next person in your job. List the resources needed for your position – where to get them and how to get help for projects. Anticipating the needs of the person who will be hired to replace you is the right thing to do and sets a positive tone. It shows you to be a class act to your co-workers and the person who replaces you. Be prepared for a period of shock and grief, both within yourself and with your co-workers, supervisor and colleagues. As we all know, people express grief differently. One colleague may wish you well, another may express anger, and yet another may burst into tears. Even if you are leaving because of difficult circumstances, there will be feelings about your leaving. Take time to listen and talk with your co-workers and supervisor.

Don’t endanger yourself financially. It is never advisable to leave your current job without a solid new job lined up unless you absolutely have to. Don’t risk your hard-won seniority with a current organization to start at the bottom with a new organization – unless for a very good reason. If you do not have a job lined up when you quit, make sure you have savings that will support your regular expenses for at least six months.

Don’t feel guilty. This is most important. You are acting in your own self-interest. Your company would not hesitate to act in its own best interest in order to survive. As long as you have given it your best work, you don’t owe it anything else. This is especially true if the company has not fully used your abilities. You have the right and obligation to take advantage of the opportunity to improve your work status by seeking employment that will be a real improvement. You will want to concentrate on creating a new, more positive career situation, rather than focusing on the bad things that have happened to you. This is the time to concentrate on the positive aspects of your new career.


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