Leaving a Job the Right Way

Why Does It Matter How I Leave a Job?

The end of one job is also the beginning of the next phase in your professional life. You may be going to a new job, or you may be setting out on a job search. You may even be leaving a whole career behind and starting a new one. Whatever you are going to do next, you should make an effort to depart from your previous employment with grace and pride. The way you leave a job expresses who you are and reflects your attitude toward work and life.

From a practical perspective, your behavior as a departing employee may affect the recommendations you will receive, and this will be important if you want to seek future employment with the same company. Co-workers and bosses you work with now may turn up again in the future as colleagues or potential employers, so you will want them to remember you as a person who not only did good work but also respected the company, even when leaving it behind.

What Steps Are Typically Involved in Leaving a Job?

No two work situations are exactly alike, and there are differences in the ways companies deal with employees who choose to leave. If you work for a very small or an informal company, the process of leaving may be handled informally as well. However, most workers can look at the process of leaving a job in three stages: notifying your employer that you will be leaving, finishing work, and departing.

Once you have decided to leave your job and you have made all the necessary mental, financial, and practical preparations for your transition, the first step in leaving is to give written notice to the human resources department or to your supervisor. As a rule, they will tell you what additional administrative steps are required. Some

The “Rules” for Giving Notice

Most people are familiar with the phrase “giving your two weeks’ notice,” which has become synonymous with quitting a job. Although two weeks is the accepted standard of notice that you plan to leave your job, it is not appropriate in all situations. In order to figure out what is right for you, you should begin by determining whether the company you are leaving has an official policy regarding notice. If you signed a contract upon entering into employment with the company, review it to see if it stipulates how much notice you are required to give.

Even if you are not contractually obligated to give a certain amount of notice, the culture of your organization can help you make your decision. If other employees with positions similar to yours have given notice during your time there, how much notice did they give? Were their exits smooth, chaotic, or drawn out? This information can help guide your own plans for departure.

Because you want to leave on a good note, you should consider several other factors in deciding how much notice to give. One such consideration is the time of year in which you are leaving. If you are leaving during a particularly busy season, for example, it is appropriate to give more than two weeks’ notice, so that you do not leave your coworkers in a difficult position. The level of your position should also be taken into account as you consider how much notice to give. In general, an executive position is harder to fill than an entry-level position and therefore requires more notice. If you hold a management position, four weeks, or one month, is often more standard than two weeks.

companies ask resigning employees to leave immediately, but most expect at least two weeks of notice. During the period after you notify your employer and before you leave, it is important that you finish any pending work and make arrangements to hand off ongoing responsibilities. On the final two or three days of work, there are usually last-minute details to finish up, along with personal good-byes. When you depart, you should leave a clean office or cubicle and no remaining loose ends.

How Do I Notify My Employer in the Right Way?

Leaving a Job the Right Way

. In those circumstances you should consult an adviser about what to put in the resignation letter.

Leaving a Job the Right Way

Unemployment insurance: A government system by which regular payments are made to qualified unemployed individuals (usually those who have been laid off).

After you notify your employer that you intend to leave, there will probably be a number of steps for you to take. Most of them will be determined by your employer, and your role will be to make sure that you are being treated fairly. You should also make sure that you receive any benefits that should be coming to you. For example, you may be entitled to compensation for unused sick leave, or you may be eligible for bonuses earned while you were employed that are scheduled to be distributed after you leave. If you are asked to sign any documents, you should take time to read them carefully and ask questions about anything that is unclear.

In order to be well prepared for your job transition, you should have a new job or have savings you can live on until you find one. You should also know your rights and responsibilities, be familiar with the company's policies, and have a plan for leaving the workplace in a professional manner. Once you are ready, you can put that plan into action.

How Do I Finish Work in the Right Way?

Leaving a Job the Right Way

When you leave a job, you should try to make sure that your departure does not create an undue burden for your coworkers or for the company, although that is not always possible. You might have experience that cannot be easily replaced, or a backlog of work that cannot be completed in a few weeks. However, you have the right to pursue a new opportunity, even if that means some inconvenience for the company you leave. If you do the best you can to make the transition easier on everyone, that will be to your credit.

Leaving a Job the Right Way

It may be helpful for you to make a list of everything that you are personally responsible for and then decide what you will be able to finish in the time available. If there are tasks that you will be unable to complete, you can work with your supervisor or coworkers to determine how those responsibilities will be reassigned. You should make yourself available to anyone who wants to ask questions, and if someone has been selected to replace you, you should give that person friendly support and positive encouragement.

Even if you do not have any special responsibilities that you will need to hand off, you still have the opportunity to finish your job well. It can be tempting for an employee who knows that he or she will be leaving soon to make less effort as the time runs out, so a short-term employee who makes an extra effort will stand out as someone who really cares about doing a good job. This impression will make a difference if you need to ask this employer for a reference or even another job in the future.

Ensuring a smooth transition with careful planning and consideration will only reflect positively on you, especially in the minds of those who might be your future employers or employees.

Ensuring a smooth transition with careful planning and consideration will only reflect positively on you, especially in the minds of those who might be your future employers or employees. ALTRENDO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES.

In addition to completing and handing off work, you may also need to deal with administrative matters. Some companies require an exit interview, which gives outgoing employees an opportunity to give feedback on their experience. The best approach to an exit interview is to be frank but concise. If you have something worth saying, you should say it, but avoid elaboration.

Prior to your departure, you will need to return company property, gather any personal belongings, track down items that have been lent to you, and return things that you have borrowed. You may also need to notify contacts that you are leaving your position. If permitted by the company's policies, you should make copies of anything that you are likely to need in the future, such as work samples, important e-mail messages, and contact information, and delete any personal information from company devices. Once your departure date is certain, remember to update any social and professional media sites where you have profiles that include employment details.

How Do I Depart in the Right Way?

Your departure day might be anything from a big relief to an emotional roller coaster to an otherwise ordinary day. If you have not been in the job very long, or if it is not the sort of company where people form relationships, your departure day may not differ much from a normal workday. On the other hand, you may be leaving people whom you have come to know well. Regardless of how you expect the day to proceed, you should try to have every necessary task done beforehand. A successful departure day will be relaxed, not frantic. Take time to say good-bye to your coworkers, and remember to acknowledge people who have given you service and support.

Leaving a Job the Right Way

If at all possible, you should allow at least a few days between leaving one job and starting another. Keep in mind that the departure from a job, no matter how well planned or welcome, involves stress. A little time to rest and recuperate will allow you to start a new job with more energy and a better attitude. Although getting started in a new position may be hectic, you might still have time to follow up with your former colleagues to see if they have any questions for you. Once you have done that, you will be able to close the old chapter of your career story and concentrate on the new one.

What If I Am Laid Off or Fired?

When you are able to leave a job by choice, you have at least some control over when and how you depart. The process of leaving can be spread out over several weeks, and you have plenty of time to plan and execute a strategy that is right for you. However, if you are terminated from your job involuntarily, this situation presents a different set of mental and practical challenges.

The best way to approach an involuntary termination depends in part on the reason behind it. If you are laid off, or let go with the possibility of being rehired at some point, you are usually one of several other people in the same situation, and your company may provide outplacement services or other helpful resources. If that is the case, you should take advantage of any opportunities offered, even if you feel angry with the company. The key to a positive departure in this situation is for you to look to the future, not the past.

If you are fired, or let go without the potential to be rehired, you may already be aware of the reason. Many companies have a process that involves warnings, counseling, and other steps before an employee is involuntarily terminated. Some do not, however, and it is not unusual for an employee to be told without advance notice that his or her services are no longer needed, especially in smaller companies or informal employment situations. Depending on the conditions of employment, the reasons for termination may or may not be explained.

Dismissal from employment ranks very high on the list of things that cause stress, not only because it may create sudden financial and personal problems but also because it can have very strong emotional effects. Frustration, anger, and hurt feelings are a very natural response to involuntary termination. You can, however, do a few things that will help minimize the negative impact. Try to look at the situation objectively to see if there is anything to be learned from the experience. Although it is important for you to take time to regain your bearings, you should get back into action mode as soon as possible. Time spent reacting to what has already happened will not be very productive, so you should focus on your own best interests going forward.