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Quitting Your Job the Right Way

Sometimes it’s just time to move on. Maybe you’ve peaked at your job. You got a better offer. Or perhaps, it spite of your best efforts, the job you have just makes you unhappy. There is, however, a right way to leave your job to your best benefit. Remember that no matter how unhappy you may be, a future employer may still chose to contact that company for a reference. Even if they don’t, applications often have a box to check on whether or not they could contact a particular former employer. It raises a red flag if you say no. All in all, it’s in your best interests to quit a job properly with professionalism and politeness.

Your first step is to have a one on one conversation with your boss. Explain that you’re leaving, a brief explanation, and give the standard two weeks’ notice. The only exception to the two week rule is if you have a contract, and it requires a certain notice. Discuss with your boss any projects that need to be reassigned if you can’t complete and how you may need to spend that last two weeks. As it does sometimes happen, your company may choose to dismiss you right away. If this takes place, remain polite and professional. Whether they’re taking your resignation personally or if it is policy, simply state that you understand and that you will collect your personal items. Ultimately though, if you are concerned with how your boss will react, you can go to HR to resign with them first.

You should also write a resignation letter. It should include a statement that you’re resigning, the date on which your resignation is effective, why you are leaving (optional), a thank you, and your signature. This letter should go to your boss and an HR representative.

Give feedback. While it’s not required, it’s can be very helpful to provide feedback to your supervisor, management, or human resources as to why you are leaving. This is best done in a face to face conversation. Sometimes, HR will conduct an exit interview. Either way, prepare what you wish to say beforehand so you’re giving constructive feedback. Do not use this opportunity as a venting session to everything that’s wrong with a company. Take one or two reasons you’re leaving and discuss them in a diplomatic manner. For example, if you’re leaving because your boss was impossible, state it as the fact that your work style didn’t mesh with his/her management style. If asked, give specific situations where there were problems.

Complete your work. Finish up any projects or assignments that you can. Make sure your boss is aware of any item you cannot complete in the allotted time so they can reassign the work. If you can or it’s appropriate, document your activities, where important files can be found, or any other item that could help create a smooth transition for your employer or the person that replaces you.

Tell them thank you for the opportunity. You’ve learned something with every job you’ve had (even if it’s what not to do). Show gratitude for it. Express it to your boss, HR, your colleagues, and/or your subordinates. Remember that all of these people are potential future references. Taking the time for a personal good-bye and a few words of appreciation can go a long way. They will remember you for it and value it.

Most of us will leave a job at some point. How you handle it can impact your future opportunities. Preparing properly and managing it professionally can make a huge difference.

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