It’s almost inevitable that you’re going to quit a job at some point. Whether it’s onwards and upwards to a promotion, taking time off for family or travel, or you simply hate the place, there are some simple rules you need to follow.
1. Show Gratitude And Respect
First things first, tell the boss first. Make an appointment, or see them when you know they are available. This should be in a private place (like their office). Know what you’re going to say before you walk in the door, but emphasise gratitude in your discussion. Thank them for the time you have spent there – even if you hated most of it, there will always be something to be grateful for.
Answer any of their questions about your reasons for leaving honestly and succinctly, though this is not a time to be brutally honest. This will potentially create hostility in your final weeks.
Be clear on when you’re leaving, and ask them what their priorities are before you leave. You’re still on their time until you walk out the door. Make sure you check your contract for notice periods, and give as much notice as you can. If you need to give short notice, this is a negotiation you will have to have with your current boss, though you should avoid this at all costs – for legal reasons, and for your own professional reputation.
2. Work Like A Trojan
One of the most powerful things you can do in your last weeks is work harder than you ever have before. Whether you’re a paediatric nurse, a dentist, or a GP on a mine site, there will always be more you can do. This will show that you’re committed to where you are now, and you’re focussed on the job at hand. Make sure you work hard up to the very last minute, and even stay a bit longer if you can on the last day.
3. Do Not Burn Bridges
Whatever your reason for resigning, this is not your opportunity to be dramatic or emotional. It is not the time to tell that cranky NUM what you really think of him, or the nasty orthopaedic surgeon that’s she’s the worst human being you’ve ever worked with (sorry NUMs and orthopaedic surgeons, you know we love you!). Aside from the karma effect, employment markets change, and it is possible that you will be dealing with that person again, either on an equal level or with them or you in a position of power. Regardless of the relationship, it will severely inhibit your career later on. Resigning is the time to take the high road – be kind, be positive, and polite to your colleagues and bosses.
4. Keep Your Thoughts To Yourself
It is very common that in interviews with prospective employers, candidates will badmouth their current employer. Not only is this unprofessional, it may get back to your current employer (and you may not get the job anyway). Even after you resign, if you are given the opportunity for an exit interview, keep your comments factual, objective, and short. There is no value in going to town on how you would have done things, or which of your colleagues are the least productive. When your colleagues and friends in the workplace ask you why you are leaving, be honest but not critical.
5. Be Prepared For A Counter-Offer
Sometimes, you’ll receive a counteroffer from your current employer. This might be financial, extra benefits, a promotion, or something else. You should be absolutely prepared for this, and know what, if anything, will change your mind. It’s important to consider why you are actually leaving, and whether staying for a bit more money is consistent with your values and career goals. Whatever you do, don’t engage in a tacky to-and-fro negotiation between your existing employer and the new one to try to get the best deal. You’re not buying a horse – it’s your career.
Next time you move on from a job, consider these tips, and your career will thank you for it.
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