How to Exit a Job Gracefully
You’ve done it! You studied, earned your certification, applied for a better position and you got it. Now it’s time to exit your current job, and you, being upwardly mobile and professional to your fingertips, want to do it right. No leaving projects dangling and no supervisors scrambling to fill the void you’re leaving, particularly when you’re still officially sitting in that desk for another two weeks.
I’ve compiled a few common-sense tips to help you exit your current job gracefully:
- Craft a professional resignation letter. No need to say a lot, or to inform the powers that be where you’ll be going once you leave them. Simply state that you have enjoyed your time with the company, and that you appreciate the opportunities offered there to grow and augment your skills. Now you’re off to a new experience. Sincerely, you. Don’t print the letter on company letterhead. Plain white paper is fine. Now is not the time to splurge with company resources! You want to slide out with as few ripples as possible so that you will be remembered well.
- Once the signature ink on your new contract is dry, it’s time to inform your current employers they’ll be minus your stellar services sooner than later. Inform your immediate supervisor first. Pick a non-busy time where you can step into his or her office and close the door. Then sit down, hand them your brief but courteous and typo-free letter of resignation, and break the news like a civilized, in-demand IT professional. No sneaking your resignation on his or her desk with the flush of guilt hot on your face. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with leaving one job for another. If push came to shove and your employer found a way to get your old job done for less money but equal skill, as they probably will once you’re gone, you’d be on your way out first! And no hard feelings, right? Right.
- Play the wrap-up game. Ideally, you want to complete any open projects or assignments satisfactorily. This may mean staying late or coming in early, but maybe not because you won’t be taking on any new assignments so things should balance out. If someone comes to you with a new project that will last longer than you will, once you’ve informed your supervisor, feel free to let the colleague bearing the new assignment know that you won’t be around. Refer them to your supervisor for assistance.
- Once word filters out that you’re leaving, people will start to trickle in with questions. Feel free not to answer. Resist the urge to bad mouth or indulge in ‘I’ll soon be gone, so who cares?’ crab sessions. Since you’re a conscientious professional, the fact that you’re working to clear your desk in preparation for the newcomer offers you the perfect tool with which to extricate yourself from potentially sticky conversations. Anybody who persists in trying to pull out dirt from under your immaculate fingernails should be quickly rerouted to bitchier pastures.
- Leave a few tips or a list of helpful instructions for your replacement and make sure that your immediate supervisor gets a copy. It’s a good idea to do this on your last official day of employment. It’s also a good idea to leave a personal e-mail address and or contact information in case of emergency or should there be follow-up questions.
These little touches are likely to be remembered and passed along since they make up the final impression that you leave behind. You never know who you’ll work with in the future or who might know someone that you worked with on your last gig. Small acts of professional courtesy and kindness are usually not forgotten. You never know when you might need someone, and you never know when the good feelings that you left behind can manifest in opportunity going forward.