With the unemployment rate dropping and wages rising, the job market has never been better. As a result, many people are looking around to see what other opportunities may be out there. If you find yourself in this position, follow these steps to maintain your professional reputation and avoid burning bridges when you decide to move on.
When you make the decision to leave your company, the first thing you should do is to meet face-to-face with your supervisor to tell them. Prior to the meeting, mention to your manager, in person or via email, that you’d like to have a conversation about your future with the company. By doing this, your boss will have time to process the possibility of you leaving before the discussion takes place which will help in managing the emotions of the situation.
Before the meeting, develop a plan for how you think the conversation might go. Prepare an articulate explanation as to why you’re leaving. Even if you are leaving because of you feel you’ve been treated poorly, you should avoid focusing on it. Instead, talk about the positives the new opportunity that you’re pursuing will bring you (like new skills, better pay or a shorter commute time).
It’s also important that this meeting with your supervisor is the first time that you discuss your resignation. You don’t want to be talking with colleagues about it beforehand, as you risk information trickling back to your boss without proper context or explanation.
Your meeting with management shouldn’t be the end. While there may be a possibility that they’ll have your gather your belongings right away, most times giving at least a two-week notice will be preferred.
By giving notice, you will not only be showing your soon-to-be former employer that you’re professional but you also won’t be leaving your colleagues or clients in the dark and scrambling to pick up your work without a replacement set up.
Don’t burn bridges or tarnish the reputation you’ve built during your time there. You never know when you might need to call on someone in the future for a reference or even another job.
If the company accepts your notice, you shouldn’t simply coast through the last couple weeks. Much like giving your notice, it once again comes down to professionalism. By maintaining productivity and motivation until your last day of employment you’ll leave a strong lasting impression on your manager and colleagues.
During this notice period, the company will begin looking for your replacement. In an ideal situation, the company will be able to find someone while you’re still working there.
Your willingness to help the new hire get started before your departure will say a lot about the type of employee and person you are.
If the company doesn’t make a hire in time, you should transfer as much of your knowledge as you can into training guides that document key processes, contacts or advice. This will give the incoming employee a head start as they deal with the stress that comes with a new job.
Leaving your current role gives you the opportunity to recognize those people that have impacted your career. No matter your relationship with your manager, their job was to oversee your growth, so they’ve more than likely put some time and effort into training and mentoring you.
Letting your manager and co-workers know your appreciation for them, either in-person or in a hand-written note, should be the last step you take before walking out the door.
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