For one reason or another, the time may come to seek a new job. It may be due to normal life transitions such as graduating from college, obtaining an advanced degree, the relocation of a spouse or a company goes out of business. Sometimes, it may be that the job itself is not a good fit or the organization did not turn out to be the kind of employer you expected. Most of the time, people leave a job because of an opportunity for advancement.
How we leave a job is as important as how we start one. At some point in the future, you are likely to need a reference from the current employer. Sometimes, if you work in the same industry, you may end up working with some of the same people or they might even be your client one day. Whatever the case, you want to leave a very positive impression. The following tips are the ones I have given my own children when the time has come to leave a job.
1. Resign in person. This may seem obvious, but in this digital world, people sometimes feel it acceptable to email, text or phone in a resignation. If you want to remain well thought of, and you do, then schedule a time to talk to your boss to resign face-to-face.
2. Submit a written letter of resignation following the face-to-face meeting. Even if you and your boss have a great relationship, it is beneficial to you to have a written record that you chose to leave on your own accord.
3. Provide ample notice, which is customarily a minimum of two weeks. Your boss may choose to go ahead and send you on your way, but the respectful action is to give notice. If the boss wants you to work out your notice, give 100 percent until your exit is complete.
4. Don't burn any bridges. This old cliché' is a good one to remember. Even if asked during an exit interview, don't bash the company or any of its employees. Offer positive statements about the better parts of your experience and constructive feedback on what might have made it better. Do so while maintaining the highest level of professionalism.
5. Offer to train your successor. If the company hires someone to replace you before you leave, offer to help train the new employee. Again, the boss might decline the offer, but you will be more highly thought of by offering to help the organization continue to be successful.
6. Ask your employer for a letter of recommendation or permission to list as a reference in the future.
7. Thank your boss and your organization for the opportunity for their company. Even if you had a poor experience, you obtained experience on which to build for the future. Be grateful and gracious.
8. Return all company property promptly. It hurts your reputation for the company to have to hunt you down to retrieve a security badge, parking pass, key or other company-issued equipment. Protect your own integrity by voluntarily providing as you leave. Only leave with personal items that are rightfully yours.
Leaving well, without baggage, sets you up for success in the next opportunity. You can start your new job ready to go and ready to grow in the next chapter of your career.
Dee Ann Turner is Vice President, Enterprise Social Responsibility, for Chick-fil-A, Inc. She is the bestselling author of It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, now available in Spanish: El gusto es mio: El impacto del talento extraordinario y una cultura cautivante.