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Jan. 18, 2016

Exit Etiquette – How to Leave a Job on Good Terms

Whether you’re moving on to a new position or getting out of a bad one, quitting your job is never fun and almost always a bit awkward. At the end of the day, how you part ways with your employer is far more important than why you’re leaving in the first place. So before you pack your things and never look back, remember to leave as positively as you entered by following these basic exit etiquette guidelines.

  1. Keep it professional – Never opt to take the easy way out when resigning from a job– texting, emailing, or even speaking over the phone is no way to deliver the news to your boss. Be professional and schedule face-to-face time to discuss your departure and come with a formal resignation letter in hand.
  2. Provide enough notice – In general, you should give your employer at least two weeks of notice before you depart and a month if you are in a management role. Sprinting out the door could create feelings of abandonment and resentment amongst your soon to be ex-coworkers. Do your best to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone.
  3. Don’t keep it a secret – Your boss should be the first to know about your departure, but not the only one. Do inform your colleagues and clients of your resignation. While you are not obligated to detail your reason for leaving, being upfront about your decision allows you to maintain the valuable relationships you’ve formed – a crucial part of building your network.
  4. Pass the torch – A good employee will set their employer up for continued success. That means effectively passing on the torch to your replacement – compile notes, create detailed project lists, organize files, and jot down things that perhaps aren’t part of the job description. It’s also helpful to finish projects you’re in the middle of and tie up any loose ends.
  5. Work until the end – Like a senior close to graduation, you may want to switch on the cruise control and kick up your feet in the days leading up to your departure. Unfortunately, business doesn’t stop just because you are leaving. Maintaining good work ethic all the way through will be appreciated and duly noted by your fellow coworkers.
  6. Get references – New research shows that the average adult will hold roughly 11 jobs in their lifetime. That means you’ll be on the hunt for a new job again someday and in need of good references. Ask your boss or close colleagues to write you a reference while you’re still fresh in their minds.
  7. Check your employee handbook – It’s important to review any last minute HR items before you head out the door. Look through your employee handbook or schedule time to meet with an HR representative to go over things such as healthcare benefits, unused vacation and sick days, or 401k.
  8. Nail the exit interview – If you’re leaving your employer under less than desirable circumstances (i.e. a bad boss, poor work environment, etc.), it’s natural to want to blow off some steam. However, the exit interview is not the time or place to unload your frustrations or tell your boss what you really think of them. You may end up working together in the future, so always keep it positive – even if you experienced otherwise.
  9. Tread lightly on social media – Like the exit interview, do not use social media – or any public forum for that matter – to air your grievances with your former employer. Keep your feelings or comments to yourself or speak to a family member or close friend if you need to vent.
  10. Show your thanks – Adopting an attitude of gratitude is not only an important trait to hone, but also vital in today’s workplace where who you know often overshadows what you know. Be sure to thank your boss for the opportunity and experience you’ve gained. Write thank you notes, send a gratuitous email, or do personal good-byes on your last day.

By leaving a job on good terms you not only keep your professional reputation intact but also leave the door open for future opportunities.


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