Leaving a Job Without Burning Bridges

The chances are pretty high that you will quit at least one job in your career for another job.  You have found another opportunity that you are excited about.  Yet, you must successfully transition between these opportunities.  How do you want to be remembered?  Leaving your job gracefully and professionally is important to maintaining key relationships that will have a long-term impact on your career.  Here are a few tips and suggestions on how to navigate a job transition.

  • Be professional

Think back to how you acted when you were interviewing for your current position. You presented yourself in a way that was pleasant and engaging.  As you leave your current position, you want to maintain that same attitude.  This is not the time or place to vent any frustrations publicly on the internet about your employer or during an exit interview.

Be consistent in the message you tell coworkers about why you are leaving.  When coworkers hear different stories or gossip floating around the office, they might become suspicious of you or the company in general.  Stay positive and be thankful about what you enjoyed about the company and the position you were working in.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to list out all of your accomplishments over your time with the company to present to your manager (especially if you are open to a counteroffer).  This can help reduce tension with your manager.  Remember, you cannot control how others react to your departure.  There might be angry responses.  However, you can always control the things you do and say during the transition.

  • Be collaborative

In addition to having a written letter about your departure, I would suggest setting up a time to talk with your direct supervisor about the transition. By approaching your supervisor first, you eliminate the possibility that others will spread the news through the “grapevine” and that your supervisor heard the news from someone else rather than you.  Think about what you want to say and how you want to communicate this transition to make the conversation go smoothly.  Ask your supervisor what you could do to help.  What loose ends need to be tied up before you go?

Be diligent not to slack off as you go, but productively work to make it easy for your replacement to come in and succeed.  If you know someone who could serve as your replacement, make that suggestion to your supervisor.  This could save your supervisor time and energy in hiring.  Also, if you performed well in your job, your supervisor is likely to take the referral seriously.

  • Be flexible

The standard notice is two weeks before exiting your current job.  I would recommend not leaving any earlier.  If you do not have an immediate start date with your new job set up, you might suggest working a little beyond the two weeks to help your company with the transition.  Giving another week or two can help your company by not overwhelming them with your work as they search for your replacement.  However, I would not give too much notice (i.e. over 3 months) because you are now considered an outsider and are treated differently at meetings or team-bonding activities.  This can be an awkward and uncomfortable experience.

While transitioning between jobs can be an emotional and challenging time, remaining professional, collaborative, and flexible can help others remember you positively.  You never know when you might interact with your previous employer or coworkers in the future or when you might need a professional reference.  The things you do and say in your last few weeks at a job are vitally important to your long-term career.

If you are looking to make a career transition and are interested in professional support, consider emailing us at info@careersolutionsgroup.net. We offer free initial consultations, and have helped hundreds of career changers make successful transitions.

By: David Murphy, Career Solutions Group