Quitting can be stressful, and how you do it can heavily impact your career in the future. It's a small world. People know people. What if you find your dream job in a year or two and need a reference? You should always try your best to avoid burning any bridges...no matter how much you hated the job.
If you're ready to quit, you'll want to do it in a smart and strategic way. To avoid any damages done to your career down the line, steer clear of these common mistakes:
Some people use quitting as a bargaining tool. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. Any effort you make to leave a job indicates to your employer that you're no longer as engaged. And even if you are given a counter-offer, make no mistake, the relationship will never be the same.
Think carefully about your decision to leave. What are your reasons? If a salary bump or title promotion can convince you to stay, discuss it with your boss before mentioning anything about quitting. But if you really are set on leaving, commit to your decision.
It's hard to keep good news under wraps, but telling your co-workers before letting your boss know could make your remaining days at work chilly and awkward. Even if you trust your co-workers, keep in mind that this is a workplace setting, so having that conversation with your manager first demonstrates respect and professionalism. No one likes having a curveball thrown at them.
By giving your employers the heads up, you are also allowing them to decide how they want to announce the news. They'll want the extra time to thoughtfully prepare what to say and how to answer questions from employees.
The standard notice time for quitting a job is two weeks. For more senior employees, a three or four weeks notice will usually suffice. This gives your employer time to review your responsibilities and determine who will take over as they search for a replacement.
You can use the extra time to tie up any loose ends and train co-workers on how to complete essential tasks. Show your manager you respect them enough to stay committed up until the very last day. Your good work ethics will be remembered.
Your network is your net worth. It's important to keep it active and robust.
Before or on your last day, send an email to the entire team, including your boss and everyone on the executive level. Summarize how you've grown as a professional at the company and why you value your time there. Reserve any constructive feedback for the exit interview, but be careful not to sound too negative. Your answers aren't always entirely confidential and will remain in your company employee file forever. Leave on amicable terms in case you ever decide to return.
You should also make some time to write recommendations for your former colleagues (even your boss!). LinkedIn is a great place to do this. Outline how they helped you and what you admire most about their skills. This will serve as a nice "thank you" and they'll be more likely to help you in the future.
Whether it's out of politeness or nosiness, your colleagues will inquire about your new job. It's fine to say where you're going and what you'll be doing, but don't gush about the perks and benefits or sound too ecstatic about leaving. Doing so might sound like you're criticizing the company.
Be modest with your answers, and if they're being especially pushy, just smile with sincerity and say how grateful you are for your time at the company.
Even long after you've quit, don't say anything bad about your former employer.
It can be tempting in many settings. Let's say you're meeting up with former colleagues at happy hour, and the conversation slips into into you complaining about your former boss or workload. This could lead to bad things, such as your one of them repeating what you said to other people in their office.
The temptation to speak distastefully may also come up in your new job. A new co-worker asks, "How did you like your old job?" Here's a tip: if you don't have anything good to say, say nothing at all. The last thing you need is your reputation out the window before you've even settled into the new job.
J.T. O'Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in HR, recruiting and career coaching. Follow her on Twitter @jtodonnell.
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