I quit! A phrase no one wants to be pushed into exclaiming at work. Ideally, you want to plan your exit smoothly and professionally without burning bridges, and indeed without throwing your hands up in disgust and just walking out. Tempting though that may be to just quit your job with little thought, it’s not a good idea for a few reasons:
- It’s just not professional
- The working world is a small place – you never know when a past boss or colleague will pop up again
- You ideally want to have a new job to go to before you’ve packed in your old one
- It can lead to bad feelings and negativity that you may find yourself carrying into your next job.
I’ve quit my job in both the bad way and the good way (and lets be clear: there is a very definite bad way to leave your job and I’m very lucky this has had no unintended consequences), and even if you want to tell the world to screw it, leaving with dignity has its perks (better leaving gifts for one). Here’s a five step plan for leaving a job with your soul, class and reputation intact.
1. Planning to leave your job
Quitting a job doesn’t (or rather shouldn’t) just happen overnight – either a new opportunity has arisen that has sparked your interest or you’ve got to the end of a job role and feel like it is time to move on. Putting some plans in place for leaving means that you’ll feel less worried about leaving a job (which can be critical if you’ve been somewhere a long time) and you’ll be able to effectively handover to someone new or to your team (and if you are not leaving because you hate your team this is a very good thing to do).
Planning doesn’t have to be extensive. It might include a job search and applications/interviews. If you don’t know what is next you might want to talk to friends, family or someone independent. What you definitely don’t want to do at this stage is let it be known in your workplace that you are planning to leave.
2. Handing in your notice and your resignation letter
You’ve made some plans, you’ve pulled them off and you are now in possession of an exciting shiny new job offer. Congratulations!
This might feel like the hard bit, but in essence it’s more procedural than anything. In this order you’ll need to:
- Talk to your manager and tell them you are leaving
- Give a formal notice of resignation (ideally a nicely worded resignation letter that says thank you for the opportunity a few times on it)
- Work out your notice period and your final date with HR, including any holiday you need to take or be paid for in lieu
- Let people in your office know – but pay attention as to how and when your managers want you to do this – for an easy life it is worth letting them run this particular show.
Depending on your industry, they may want you out of your role quicker. Perhaps because you are going to work for a competitor or because they are going to promote someone into your role quickly. That’s fine. They still have to pay your notice, but it means you get to leave quicker. If you want to leave quicker than your contractual notice period allows, negotiate. But don’t be a brat about it.
3. Working your notice
I think this is the hardest part of quitting your job. You’re head is out of the game and you have one foot out of the door. It’s hard to remain motivated and focused during this period, but you must. If you only have a couple of weeks notice this is fine but if you have two – three months this can be much harder to manage emotionally. During your notice period however, you should aim for the following:
- Planning and executing a decent handover – whether in person or a document, make this the best piece of work you’ve ever done. It’s your reputation on the line, and you won’t be around to defend it.
- Clearing out your desk – don’t leave your crap for someone else. Get shredding, packing and filing immediately.
- If your notice period is very long and you can’t negotiate, ask to work from home a couple of days each week to take the pressure off.
- Take any unused holiday during this time.
4. Handling leaving drinks
All your good work over the last few weeks can unravel at this very exciting but also hard to navigate social event. If you have excruciating leaving speeches, smile and say thank you. Say a few words of your own that are nice and friendly (don’t use any loaded language here or thinly veiled criticism no matter how tempting).
If you are heading to the pub for drinks you’ve got two options – don’t invite people you don’t like or any bosses OR invite then and wait for them to go home before the shots come out. You do not want to be that person who c-bombed the big boss and had no way to style it all out.
5. Starting a new role with positivity
If you are lucky, you might have some time off between jobs to get your head back in the game and shake off your last role. I cannot recommend this highly enough. If not, take the weekend to relax – don’t do anything strenuous and try and forget anything bad from your previous role. You don’t want to enter a new job with emotional baggage.
Prepare for your first day in advance. Pack your lunch, your shiny new notebook and pen and ensure you know what time you start and where you are going.
Keep in touch with old colleagues, particularly if they are friends, but also give yourself time to bond and get to know your new colleagues. It’s so easy to want to go back to what is familiar, but you have to give your new workmates a chance – they may in fact become your next BFF!
Have you ever quit your job? Did you know how to quit your job with dignity? Tell me how you handled it in the comments!