It's hard to say goodbye in your personal life, and sometimes, even harder in business. If you are one of the lucky employees who finds a better position or simply decides to move on from your current job, take heed. It's tempting to sign up for a new adventure without closing up your current one, but following standard etiquette can go a long way. Here are some suggestions for leaving your current workplace with class, grace, and your dignity intact.
- Give at Least Two Weeks Notice — You should resign from your current position as soon as you accept another job. Employers typically expect two weeks notice, but try not to screw the company over. If your position will be hard to fill, give your employer ample time to find a suitable replacement. You can tell HR and your manager and request they keep the news private until you're closer to your departure date.
- Don't Drop the Ball — Sure, you are moving on to bigger and better things, but finish off your projects and tasks with your usual gusto. You want to be remembered for being professional.
- Prepare For Your Replacement — When you resign, ask your manager what you can do to help prepare for your replacement. Instead of taking on a new project you can offer to compile a guide to the position, your contacts, and all the items you've had control over. This is especially helpful if you are a manager yourself and oversee major detailed projects or perform a certain task autonomously.
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- Don't Burn Bridges — There's no reason to use your departure as an excuse to air your grievances with the company by talking about them with your co-workers. Keep it clean. If you have valid points take them up with HR.
- Be Honest With Your Boss and HR — Don't feel the need to fudge about your plans. Be straightforward about why you are leaving. If you found a new job that better suits your skills and interests, let them know. If you've decided to take time off, admit that. Being frank with the company and your colleagues may benefit you down the road if you ever need a contact or even want your job back.
- Agree to an Exit Interview — Many companies plan exit interviews with departing employees to gather insight about your position and experience at the company. It is often held with an HR person and will cover a questionnaire or series of questions. It's your right to decline, and you should know that companies can use what you say down the road if you decide to take the employer to court, but if you aren't disgruntled agreeing will give the company clear insight as to why you might be leaving and structure they may be able to fix. In many ways your insight can help pay it forward to the next person. Is your direct manager incompetent? Explain why. Have ideas they always ignored? Share them then.
- Send Out an Email to Your Contacts or Clients — Talk to your manager before doing this, but it is common courtesy to alert your contact list that you will no longer be with the company and provide them with a direct contact in your absence. Keep the email short (they really don't care where you are going, honestly!) and don't feel the need to give reasons for your departure. At the end of the day, they were just clients.
- Clean Out Your Desk a Little at a Time — Carrying out your personal items on the last day can trigger an emotional, "OMG, am I doing the right thing?!" moment. Pack up a few personal items and photographs each day during your last week on the job. Whatever you do, don't steal company property. You can get another stapler. And taking files is illegal.
- Write Thank-You Notes — Thank your support team — from your manager, people who report to you, admin assistant to the sweet lady who opens the door of your building. Handwritten notes are especially sweet, but an email will suffice. This is a great way to kick off a personal relationship with some of your work friends.
- Celebrate Outside of the Office — Sure, you want to jump for joy about your new adventure, but don't pop the bubbly at your desk. If your co-workers want to hear about the new position take a coffee break with them or suggest a lunch out. If the office plans a sendoff party be appropriate and try not to gloat. Everyone else is staying, after all.
- Send Out an Email to Your Colleagues — If you are leaving on happy terms, send out an email to your direct colleagues thanking them for their support and providing them with your personal email in case they ever need to contact you for personal or professional reasons.
- Understand No One Likes Being Left Behind — It's pretty common for those who stay with the company to feel a little burned by co-workers who move on. Understand it's not personal, but they have their own career and life battles to fight. You have to fend for yourself.