How to Leave your Job Gracefully
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Besides the fact that you should strive to be a decent human, when you leave a job, you should always try to do so gracefully. The world is actually not that big and chances are you will come in contact with someone from an old company or someone who will know someone, etc. You feel me?! People talk and if you burn a bridge at once place, chances are it will haunt you elsewhere. Whether it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that came around or you have been asking for more responsibilities for a while and it isn’t happening, you have a chance to leave your current employer with poise and grace. Also, if you’re new here, I started a Women in the Workplace series and this is a part of that. To check up on my other WITW posts, click here.
Are you about to put your two week’s notice? Even if you already have, you can probably take something away from my tips below, whether you apply them to your current situation or one in the future!
Practice what you are going to say. Chances are you’ll be caught up in the moment when talking to your boss and might get flustered. Just like I mentioned thinking out-loud and verbally practicing answers in questions to ask during your job interview, I 100% recommend it here too. You don’t want to stumble over your words, cry, or anything like that and speaking your thoughts prior to saying them will help!
Speak to your employer before taking the job. I’ve both told my employer I’m leaving and presented my new opportunity to them prior to taking the job. If it isn’t a place you’ve disliked immensely or could maybe see yourself staying at, then I would let them know that you’ve received a job offer and ask if there’s anything they can do to help you stay.***
Give 2+ weeks. Depending on what your new company start date requirement is / how long you have been at your company, I would give at least 3 weeks. I was at my last company for over 5 years and was able to push my start date out AND take a week off prior to starting, so it all kind of worked in my favor. It looks good if you can give a longer leave notice than shorter, because it shows that you want to help your company transition into your absence. I get that you can’t always do this, but if you have been at your company for over 3 years, I’d say give 3 weeks notice if you can!
Prepare your boss + teammates. Don’t leave the company in disarray! Do as much as you can before you leave and leave a list of things that are outstanding. This will help make sure that not as many things slip through the cracks once you’re gone. Basically leave the company better than you found it!
Write notes to those who helped your career. When I just left my previous company, I wrote notes to execs and people I came in contact with who greatly impacted my time there. This is a sweet final touch and left a good memory of me (I think ;) ) as I left. I pre-wrote them and placed them on the desk of said people the morning of my departure. I also wrote notes when they interviewed me/before I was hired, so it came full circle!
Participate in a beneficial hr exit interview. I prepared a list of beneficial topics that I wanted to discuss and issues that I faced during my time there. I didn’t just go in and bash people, nor did I leave behind a trail of unhelpful and unrealistic thoughts. As I kind of mentioned above, it was a great desire of mine to leave the company in a better place than I found it and giving constructive criticism is a way you can do so.
***If it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, then your boss should theoretically understand. If you’re leaving because of empty promises and unmet expectations, you should have been talking to your boss about this for a while and it shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve left jobs for both reasons and when it was the latter, I talked to my boss about my concerns about 5 times before finally leaving. Blindsiding people is never good and you can’t get better if you don’t speak up. It may feel awkward, but if you’re wanting to ask for a raise or inquire about more responsibilities, you have to be your own advocate and speak up for yourself.
Another best practice is to send out two emails on your last day. One email should be sent to your co-workers and the other should be sent to your vendors/points of contacts who need to know how to proceed in your interim. Basically tell them you enjoyed working with them and you can also give you your personal email and phone number! For external emails, I sent it to my personal email address and BCC’ed all of the contacts. For internal emails, I sent it normally and CC’ed my personal email.
Additionally, if you didn’t do so while you worked there, go ahead and add past co-workers on LinkedIn! You never know who might endorse your skills or be a connection for a future prospect! I did this on my last day, so I can add people before they forgot about me ;)
Have you had awkward moments leaving a company? Any advice I left out?? Either way, do tell!
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