As you may remember, a few months ago I was struggling with my current job. As with most jobs, it had its pros and cons but as I realized it was time to move on, I started job hunting aggressively. It took a few months but just last week, I was offered a new position with a university- with a pay increase and tuition benefits! While the job is outside of my field (more on that tomorrow…), it offers me the stability that my current job does not (I may have been facing a move to another city by summer, which is not part of my plan!) and the opportunity to possibility to go to graduate school. This means a lot of change is coming my way in the new year but first, I have to get down to brass tacks…leaving my current job.
In the past three years, I have left many jobs but never in this circumstance – I’ve been fired, I’ve been let go, I’ve been in positions that were eliminated, and once I left a part-time/temporary gig for another temporary gig. This time, I’ve had to sit down and plan how to leave my current position in the best way possible, which naturally involved making this handy list of the 5 steps to leaving your job!
1. Find another job first. In my particular circumstance, it made sense to secure another position and finalize the details before notifying my current employer. This gave me leverage to negotiate a salary increase, choose a start date that would be beneficial to current job (to leave on a good note), and to buy myself as much time as needed to mentally prepare. While this is not a necessity, it’s the best way to start this process.
2. Tell your boss in person. It may be tempting to send an email or leave a letter on someone’s desk, but a face to face conversation is needed when giving notice of your intent to leave. I practiced what I was going to say with my mom during the post-Thanksgiving drive home and it really helped me work out exactly what I wanted to say and what I needed to ask. Be sure to reiterate all the positive things you enjoyed about the job you are leaving, outline all tasks that need to be completed before you go, and to secure any future recommendations/references you would like to have.
3. Follow-up with a letter. If previous difficult employment situations have taught me nothing, it’s that you need to have everything in writing. After your conversation in person, write a brief, one-page letter reiterating what you discussed and be sure to include all details (final date of employment, major tasks to be done, any necessary HR details like leftover vacation time, bonuses, etc.) Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
4. Organize your business. Have you ever started a new job and stepped into a mess that the person before you left behind? DON’T BE THAT PERSON. I’m convinced there’s a cubicle in the seventh ring of hell for those people. Do your very best to leave your desk/filing cabinet/electronic data/coffee maker/pen cup/whatever in a more organized state than it was presented to you. This makes a good impression on the supervisors you are leaving behind and it’s amazing karma for all the jobs you will start in the future.
5. Leave no trace. Just as you would never dream of leaving behind a granola bar wrapper in a state park, leave no trace of your personal life at your old job. You would be amazed how many people feel comfortable leaving their old tax forms behind, just begging for someone to indulge in a little identity theft, or a trail of personal emails sent from the business email account. Be sure to take or shred all personal data (except what is kept in HR records with the company), clear any private electronic data (trust me, the new person will dig through your old files), and any personal tchotchkes.
Above all, be sure to be gracious, resist the urge to say what’s really on your mind about your coworkers, and remember that your future references are based on those final impressions just as much as the first impression you made when you started.
Any other tips for quitting a job? I would love to hear your stories of departure!