We’ve all been there: You have a job you like working with people who are kind and professional. And you decide to quit. Maybe you got a better job offer, or maybe it’s time to start your own business. Perhaps you’d like to retire or need to take time off to care for a family member or yourself. It’s time to walk away from work you enjoyed.
In other cases, you might be leaving a job you detest, people you dislike even more, and an industry you’re not passionate about. We’ve all been there. Change is exciting and also scary.
Regardless of the reasons you are leaving, there is a right (and a wrong) way to quit a job.
Some important reminders about changing jobs (of your choice):
- The business world is a small place. Leaving in a storm of expletives and paper tossing – no matter how justified you feel behaving this way — can haunt you your entire career. People talk. Perception is a powerful thing. Leaving a job in a huff can stir up gossip and negative feelings that last well beyond your outburst.
- Your reputation is your most valuable asset: It says who you are, what you value, and how you offer value to others. At all costs, keep your reputation in tact when you leave a job. Take the high road by clearly stating what you liked about the work (even if it’s a stretch), thank your employer for the opportunity, and hand in a resignation letter.
- If you have constructive input, offer it in a professional way. Instead of saying, “I hate this place! You all are losers!” you might say, “This isn’t a fit for me. I have struggled to form and maintain healthy relationships here, and now it’s time for me to move on.” This does not imply you are at fault, but you are indicating the environment isn’t healthy for you and possibly others.
- Do not say you’re being paid more, respected more, or given more career validation in the new role. Who does that serve? You might feel vindicated sharing that someone else finds you more valuable (there! take that!), but it comes across as petty. Unless you want to stay in your current job and are attempting to renegotiate your salary, this tactic only hurts your reputation.
- Thank your employer for the opportunity to work for them. Even if the work was not a fit for you, they invested in you, and when it doesn’t work out, that’s not completely their fault. Graciousness goes a long way when leaving a job.
- Say goodbye to your colleagues and team members. Don’t belabor the reason you’re leaving or how great your new job will be. Again, it appears to be gloating and is petty. Let them congratulate you.
Leaving a job is not easy. Even if you don’t like the previous employer or work and are moving to your dream job, you are closing a chapter on a part of your personal and professional history. Leaving with dignity, class, and grace not only reflects positively on you, but it models behavior that others will admire. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like telling everyone EXACTLY what you think about them….