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Making a graceful exit from your current job

Leaving a job is never easy. Burning bridges with the colleagues you’ve worked side-by-side is never advisable when you’re quitting. If your time at an organisation has been good then it’s probably a bittersweet moment to leave co-workers. But even if you’ve had a terrible time, no matter what you might think, shouting something like, “I HATED this job! Good riddance!” on your way out the door only looks good in movies. You never know where any of your old colleagues may come in useful. And no matter how awesome you were at your job, the way you quit it leaves a lasting impression. Just like the first impression, the last impression also matters. So here are some tips on exiting your job and the etiquettes to follow.

1. Timing is everything

This is truer than ever when it comes to quitting your job. First of all, you need to make sure everything is in order with your new job. Your offer letter, negotiated salary, benefits package, start date, everything should be crystal clear before you decide to leave your current job. This will also help you decide exactly when to inform your boss when you’re leaving, because you can’t just get up one day and walk out the door.

2. Write a gracious resignation letter

The letter is best kept simple. Mention the date, your name and say that you’re resigning. Penning down your reasons for leaving the job in the letter may not be the best thing to do. Instead, thank your employers for the opportunity and be gracious. Don’t forget to include your last date in the letter.

3. Give enough notice

No job is easy, and while there may be people lining up to replace you, no one knows what you’ve done better than you. So you can’t just wake up one day and leave. Most companies have a specific notice period, usually varies between a month to two months or in some countries two weeks. Depending on the complexity of your project, see if you need to give more notice than that before quitting. If your job is complex, offer to train your replacement.

4. Be upfront, but polite

Be straight and to the point when you’re offering your resignation, and don’t do something rude like informing your boss via text. Fix a time with your boss, meet her and inform in-person that you’re resigning. Get your story straight as to why you’re resigning, and be clear about exactly when you’ll leave and what you’ll finish up until then.

5. Chalk out your exit plan with your boss

Ask your boss or manager how she/he would like to tell your co-workers that you’re leaving. Offer to meet with people and tell them personally and write an email to circulate to your colleagues. Also make sure to meet with the higher-ups in the company who know you and tell them that you’re leaving. This leaves a good impression and may come in useful if you want a referral later.

6. Thank everyone who ever helped you (and even those who didn’t)

Express how grateful you are to your boss and other mentors who helped you through your journey in your current job. If there are people outside your department who have helped you, talk to them, too. In fact, you never know who’ll come in useful later, so make sure to thank anyone you think may be able to help you later, too.

7. Be prepared for any scenario

Most organisations have a defined process for exiting. Make sure you know the process before you decide to quit, lest you commit some sort of faux pas. There might be an exit interview, in which they might ask you how they can improve. If you wish to criticize them, sugarcoat your words, because it never helps to leave on a bad note. You may even be given a counter-offer to tempt you to stay, but firm decisions garner respect, so don’t back down or cave. If anything, think about why your boss has waited until your resignation to give you a better offer. You may even be escorted out by security if your new job is at a competing organisation.

8. Do your best even after you’ve given in your notice

This is very important. The notice period is for you to wrap up your work and finish whatever pending projects you might have. Don’t slack off just because you’ll have different responsibilities in a few weeks. Your work ethic should show, now more than ever. It’s also important to make sure your transition is smooth, so make your responsibilities clear to your replacement and offer to train them until you leave.

9. Be careful what you say

You may hate your current job, or just your boss. Or you may have a colleague you really dislike. You were hard-pressed to keep your mouth shut about them till now, but now you won’t be around them anymore. But you never know when you’ll need them in the future, so be careful what you say. Telling them exactly what you think about them is not a good idea.

10. Clean out your belongings

This may seem very obvious, but the fact is that for a long time, your desk has been yours. You must have done quite a bit to personalize it and make yourself comfortable working there. The desk might not be filled with your personal belongings, but it has been rearranged to your liking. Make sure to keep things back the way they were before you leave. Also remember to erase your digital footprint, so to speak, from your workplace. You may have saved some personal files on your work computer, so clean that out, too.



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