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How to leave your job on good terms

  25th February 2019       Michelle Turner
 Accounting & Finance, Engineering, Science & Space, Employment, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Job Seeking Resources, Office & Commercial, Recruitment

For one reason or another, the time has come for you to move on and get a new job. You found the perfect role, applied, nailed the interview and were successful, and now you need to hand your notice in with your current employer.

In situations where you’re genuinely sad to leave, such as relocation or health reasons – or even if you love the job, but you just found a better one with better prospects – resigning affectionately can be easy. However, if you’ve been unhappy for some time, you can become consumed with giving your boss a piece of your mind and leaving in a dramatic way that leaves your colleague high and dry. Resist the urge and choose a better tactic, because leaving your current employer on good terms has it’s positives.

Here’s how to quit your job with dignity and on a professional note.

Get ready

Depending on the nature of your job, industry and where you are moving on to, there’s a chance you’ll be put on gardening leave or have enough holiday entitlement not to have to work your notice. So before you write your resignation letter and arrange that meeting with your line manager, make sure you do a clear out and tie up any loose ends.

If you work with a company computer or use a company email, make sure to clear out any personal items or questionable documents and correspondence. If allowed, print or download documents for work examples or portfolio reasons that may come in useful in the future – especially those that you own the copyright to. Do not intentionally delete files that will make your colleagues’ jobs harder after you leave just to be spiteful. This could come back and bite you in the future.

Give notice and put it in writing

When you’re absolutely sure this is the right decision and you’ve signed your contract with your new employer, arrange a meeting with your boss. Do this before you start telling your co-workers over by the coffee machine!

It’s also important to follow the formal process and write a dated resignation letter. It will act as a record for why and when you left. Even if you’ve had it with your job, be polite and to the point. Do not enter into an essay of everything that is wrong with the company and the negatives behind why you’re leaving. Keep it factual, including your proposed last day, and express your thanks for the opportunities this role provided – there will be at least one!

Also be considerate and give ample notice according to your contract, with the hope that you might be able to leave sooner.

Offer feedback

Be prepared for an exit interview and if your employer doesn’t arrange one, then perhaps request one. This is not an opportunity to take off the gloves or assign blame. You can provide constructive criticism as long as you are prepared to receive some too, but also ensure you take advantage of this as another opportunity to leave on a good note. Rarely will any action be taken as a result of the feedback you have given if negative, so all you will have left with is a sour taste, zero satisfaction and one less professional contact for the future.

Handling a counteroffer

Getting a counter-offer from your existing employer can be a real ego-boost and in some instances, very appealing. However, ask yourself why you applied for that other job in the first place. If it was purely as a bargaining tool to get a pay rise, then it might backfire in the first place if you don’t get offered one. But, if your boss does offer you a pay increase, then it’s likely to be as a last resort and may hinder further pay rises in future.

Studies show that most employees stay with a company less than a year after accepting a counteroffer, so any role changes or financial benefits are clearly short-lived. Also, your employer will know you’re dissatisfied, so your loyalty and commitment will always be in question.

Be willing to do a handover

While you might want to spend your notice online shopping and fantasising about your new job, you should instead so what you can to ensure the transition process is smooth. Work with your line manager to establish outstanding projects and workload so you can put together a plan for finishing them or transferring responsibility to a colleague or your replacement. Offer to write down processes, assist with finding your replacement and training them if time permits.

What’s the point?

If you really hate your job, then you might be wondering what you have to lose by being brutally honest and leaving your job in an emotionally satisfying way. Well, firstly, you never know when you may need a reference or recommendation down the line. Secondly, if you remain in the same industry, you may cross paths with former colleagues wouldn’t benefit from being known as bitter and unprofessional. Finally, there is a rise in ‘boomerang’ employees – those who go back to previous employers – and businesses are now more open to rehiring old employees than ever before. If the things you didn’t like or enjoy about your old job change, like company structures, people or processes, you may be open to returning.

Michelle Turner

Recruitment Consultant

Michelle works alongside Charmaine and Leanne sourcing superstars in the realms of Information Technology! Michelle is driven by her passion and dedication to delivering IT recruitment services in an ethical manner to both candidates and employers. Some of her key accomplishments include improving staff retention levels, reducing recruitment overheads for …


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