How to Quit

If you are three and no doubt imitating what you see at home, you might get away with it.  But you’re not three and the way that you quit will be how you will be remembered.  So as much as you would like to act like a three year old, you can’t.

First, you must keep your job search confidential otherwise your employer will start looking for your replacement and if the employer finds the replacement before you secure a new job, you will be unemployed.  Granted, there are rare occasions when an employee can confide in an employer, but they are very rare.

Once you have secured the new job, it all comes down to leaving without burning bridges:

The most asked question concerns how much notice to give.  Acceptable notice is the number of days equal to your annual vacation.  All new employers realize that new employees have to give notice.  They have no problem with that.  No one wants to hire someone who would leave with only a day or two notice.

Write a positive letter of resignation to your immediate supervisor.  Thank her for all she has done for you.  Recollect any successes.  Everything needs to be positive.  Make certain to emphasize that you will be available by phone to provide any assistance and state what you final day will be.

The importance of the letter of resignation is that it will go in your personnel file.  No matter what anyone ever writes about you, the letter will constitute your side of the story, so to speak.  If someone wants to attack you in your absence, your letter will provide the balance.  Basically, let them know what they are losing!

In all likelihood there will be an exit interview.  In an exit interview the key is to be professional and not to criticize.  The HR interviewer is going to be taking notes that the soon-to-be former employee will never see.  Even the slightest criticism can be magnified and taken out of context.  The interviewee is under no obligation to help his or her soon-to-be former employer improve policies and procedures.  Focus on the positive.  Smile.  Be humorous.  Say nothing negative.  Be complimentary and appreciative.  Keep to the high road.  Reminisce about the good times.

That is the best way not to burn bridges on the spot.  However, once you leave, you can (within reason) say whatever you want.  What you do not want to do is to bad-mouth a former employer around the new/present employer because he or she will know you will do it to them.  So, if you must, vent to friends and relatives not to colleagues and associates.  And make certain that your friends and relatives will not repeat what you said.  So, in the end, it may be better to say nothing to anyone.  It comes down to this:  It’s over.  Move on!

Then there is the issue of work finished and yet to be finished.  Work areas must be clean and well-organized.  Most importantly, files have to be filed logically.  Someone has to know where everything is.  Leave a phone number with colleagues (they won’t see the letter of resignation) so that if any problem arises, if there are any questions (and there will be), they can contact you.  You never want to be accused of sabotage.  Explain in detail to whomever is chosen to finish on-going or uncompleted projects what you have done and what needs to be done.  Leave a written report explaining everything.  It makes life easy for those following you, shows you are a team player, and makes it very difficult for the old employer to bad-mouth you – since you will have a copy of the report and the (old) boss will know it!  Burning bridges is a two-way street; the employer can burn them with the employee as well!  Don’t give him, or her, ammunition.

The worst example I can give of someone leaving a job was a past associate who left his desk in a shambles.  He took files with him.  We could not find anything and he rarely returned our calls – and never during regular office hours.   Another individual left, seemingly, the right way.  He offered to finish a project.  The boss agreed and granted him remote access to our computer system.  One afternoon, despite the fact that he had to have known that we were all in the office, he logged on to the system and went into files not related to his work.  He destroyed his reputation in a few mouse clicks.   Learn from their mistakes!

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