You’ve nailed the interview, negotiated your salary, and just signed on the dotted line to accept your new job. Now, there’s just one tiny thing standing in the way of you and your sweet new gig: your old one.
When you’re job hunting, you tend to think a lot about what it takes to land a new position, but there’s a great deal to consider about the one you’re leaving, too. Even if you’d love to give your boss a piece of your mind or secretly hope that your co-workers end up on a deserted island after their next holiday cruise, it’s important to leave your job on a positive, professional note. Here’s how to do it:
Give Ample Notice
Once you know you’re leaving, set a meeting with your boss to put in your official notice. (And yes, tell your boss before you tell anyone else!) Although two weeks is standard (unless your contract says otherwise), it’s a good gesture to give more time if you know exactly the date you’ll be leaving further in advance. Most of the time, your boss will be appreciative that you’re leaving plenty of time to wrap up your projects.
Caveat: If you’ve seen your company escort employees right out the door once they give their resignation, don’t give any more notice than two weeks. In this case, it’s best to prepare yourself well in advance by tying up loose ends (i.e., downloading important files) before making your announcement.
Play it Cool
Unless you’ve just hit the Powerball, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have a long work life ahead of you. Which means that, at some point, your path will cross again with many of the people you work with.
So, no matter how happy you are about your new job, you can’t show it. First of all, no one likes a bragger (especially if they’re trying to get out of there, too). Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use your current company as a reference in the future. Do you really want your boss to remember you doing the Moonwalk down the hallway out of sheer giddiness on your last week? Probably not.
Connect with your Co-Workers
That said, once you’ve told your boss, you should announce your departure to all of the co-workers you work with—both to let them prepare for the transition, as well as to stay in touch with them after you leave. It’s appropriate to send a mass farewell email—one specific to clients and one for co-workers—letting them know where you’ll be moving on to and your relevant contact information. You don’t need to give everyone your home address or your birthday, but a personal email address or LinkedIn profile where you can be reached is a great way to show that even though you’re leaving, you’re not severing ties.
Wrap Things Up
No matter what projects you happen to be working on, make sure you complete them. Even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to spend on your current job, it’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends (or, if it really can’t be wrapped up in two weeks, to leave detailed instructions). Not only for the sake of the person who will be replacing you, but because it’s important to your professional reputation to leave a job on a high and positive note. Nothing shows gratitude and accountability like a job that’s done well—and finished.
Offer to Train Your Replacement
There’s nothing a boss hates more than going through the hiring process—except having to train that new employee. And honestly, she probably doesn’t know your position as well as you do. So, if you can help with this part of your exit, then you’re winning points all around. Offer to help your boss screen resumes, sit in on interviews, work with the new employee, or create a training manual for your job. It will go a long way to leaving her with good impression once you’re gone.
Request an Exit Interview
Even if your company’s policy doesn’t include an exit interview, ask your boss for one anyway. Then, use that time to show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience.
Pat Yourself on the Back
Once you’re sitting pretty in your new job and still on speaking terms with all parties involved, then you can take a breather and congratulate yourself. You did it! Just be sure to send your old job a thank-you note if they were kind enough to send you off with a going away bash and cupcakes. Showing gratitude, manners, and professionalism will make sure they’ll remember you fondly (whether or not you can say the same for them).