Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to quit your job.

When the time comes to leave your job, start by reviewing a copy of your company’s policy regarding giving notice. Then think about what you can do to minimize the dislocation for your employer and for your own career.

• Just walking away can be a big mistake.
In case you’ll need a reference later, it’s best to part on good terms. What people don’t say about you in a reference can be as telling as what they do say. People are always moving around within their industries so you never know when you’re likely to have to deal with them again. Make sure to keep your good relationships intact and don’t give previous employers any reason to badmouth you.

• Give notice first.
Most employers require you to give a certain amount of notice before you leave. They may not want you to stay once you make your intentions clear, but you’ve done the right thing and given them the choice. Stay or not, you should be paid for the contractual period of your notice.

• What does your new employer want?
Your new employer may want you to start right away but you may not be able to leave that soon. Most employers should be willing to accommodate your desire to give an appropriate amount of notice. Two weeks is usually the minimum, but four weeks or more may be more realistic in some professional situations. If you’re leaving to join a competitor, your employer may decide to end your employment effective immediately. Make sure you’re financially prepared for this.

• Write a formal resignation letter.
Your letter should be in a business format, and should include the following items:
- your intent to leave.
- the date you intend to leave.
- the date you’re submitting the letter.
- your signature.
That’s it. You don’t need to explain why you’re leaving. All that needs to go in your personnel file are the bare facts. Give your resignation letter to your direct supervisor. Keep it positive and remember that the intent is to maintain a positive relationship with the employer.

• Tell your boss.
This is always an uncomfortable situation. You may want to write down what you want to say to your boss and bring these notes to the meeting. Lay out your reasons for leaving. Don’t lie, but be sparing with the details - don’t let emotion lead you into revealing too much. Resigning should never be a negotiating tactic to get a pay raise. If you have to resort to this to get what you deserve, your current employer probably isn’t a good long-term fit for you anyway.

• Don’t be a pain before you leave.
Badmouthing the company and constantly reminding others how lucky you are to be leaving gets old real quick for those who have no plans to leave. When coworkers ask why you’re leaving, focus on the attraction of new opportunities.

• Try to finish up any outstanding work.
If others are depending on you to complete your work so they can meet a deadline, let them know what you’re planning to do before you go. Make a list of incomplete tasks so it’s easier for someone else to take over your role. Don't take anything with you, especially customer lists or product drawings. If you do, you’re likely to be sued for stealing "trade secrets."

• Exit interview.
If you agree to do an exit interview, avoid criticizing your employer or repeating suggestions you’ve offered in the past. You’re no longer responsible for anything other than wrapping up your current work. Criticisms may be misinterpreted after you leave, and you may end up accidentally burning bridges after all.

• Work hard until the very end.
It’s tempting to mentally check out of your job before you actually physically leave. Resist that urge and understand that your last impression is how you’ll be remembered. That way, you’ll end up leaving a job but you won’t end up stepping on toes, offending people, or cutting off past relationships.

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