How to leave a job without leaving a bad impression

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Sometimes it’s an easy choice to leave a company. That’s very true for someone leaving for greener pastures. But even when you’re leaving through termination or dismissal, the most important choice that you can make in your career is to leave your current employer in the right way.

Like any other relationship, there are faults and virtues with every company. At the end of a relationship, people tend to focus on the faults.

Regardless of how you leave, there will still be emotions. The longer the relationship, the deeper the feelings. Keep this in mind during the separation. People express their emotions in different ways so be prepared to respond with compassion.

Don’t burn a bridge when you are building your career. I’ve learned first hand not to burn bridges. We live in a small world. Everybody knows somebody and information tends to circulate faster. So you’d never want to be the talk of the town.

Do’s and Don’ts

Here are a few do’s and don’ts that may help make the transition a little easier for everyone.

DO write and give a simple resignation letter to your immediate boss and your Human Resources Director, if appropriate. By putting a few key items in writing, it memorializes your intention to leave the company. The letter should include the following: your last day on the job, open items that you need to complete before leaving, and any work that you will need to pass off to someone else.

DON’T say anything negative about the company or anyone working for the company. While this is a good policy to use at all times, it is even more critical when you are leaving. Disgruntled employees may seek you out during this time to air their negative feelings about the company or people working for the company. Resist the temptation to entertain these conversations. It is likely that your comments will be shared with others. Don’t be tempt to write anything negative on the resignation letter as well. Just keep it simple.

DO give as much advance notice as possible to allow for a smooth transition. Typically, this is 30 days. In case the company wants you to leave immediately, keep in mind that it’s nothing personal and should not be considered an insult.

DO work hard until you leave. It’s perfectly natural to get “short-timer’s disease” as you have already mentally moved onto the new position. People generally remember the beginning and end more than the middle.

DON’T take anything that is not yours. Whether it’s a stapler, a book that belongs to the company, copy paper, or paper clips; leave them behind. While you’re at it, tidy up a bit.

DO make yourself available for your replacement. If the company hires your replacement before you leave, offer to train them. Engage in a professional hand-over. Even after you have departed, it’s a good idea to leave a phone number where you can be reached.

DON’T abuse e-mail, the telephone, or the internet during your last days. Be sure to keep your communication professional.

You never know what the future might bring. It’s definitely a sign of courtesy to thank your boss for the time given and try to leave the company in the best shape possible.

There’s no reason that you still can’t be friends when it’s over. If you are careful to maintain a good reputation with the company, their suppliers, their customers, and employees; it will pay off considerably. It may not happen right away, but your paths will cross again.