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Quitting a job: tips for getting it right

You’ve decided you want to study. Your partner has been transferred and you need to move. You’ve don’t want to work in your current position any longer.

No matter what your reason for quitting, you’ll likely find it challenging to face the music and tell your boss.

Here are our top 10 tips for leaving your job on a positive and professional note, with your reputation intact.

  1. Finalise your new position details with your new employer before resigning
  • Make sure you have your job offer letter and other documents signed, sealed and delivered, before you quit.
  • Check your current contract to see how much notice you’re committed to give and do everything you can to honour this.
  • If you’re required to give four weeks and your new employer insists on you starting earlier, try to negotiate at least two weeks’ notice so you don’t leave your current employer high and dry. Explain that it’s a priority for you to leave your existing job professionally and on the right note.
  1. Tell your direct boss before anyone else
  • Show your boss full respect by notifying them as soon as you can.
  • Make a meeting time and tell your boss face-to-face, never by email or text, which may be seen as unprofessional and even gutless.
  • Never blab to your colleagues first that you’re intending to leave—chances are news will get to your boss quicker than a flash.
  • Keep your resignation ‘story’ consistent—don’t tell your boss one thing and then colleagues another since this could come back to haunt you
  1. Write a professional resignation letter
  • be straightforward and succinct
  • explain why you’re departing without going into too much detail
  • provide the date of your departure
  • express gratitude for all you’ve learned and the opportunities you’ve had
  1. Give us much notice as you can
  • Provide at least two weeks’ notice, even longer depending on your work load, work priorities and unfinished work. Your boss will need this important lead time to fill your position and to ensure a handover.
  • If your new employer won’t give you this amount of notice time, explain to your current boss that you’ve tried your best, so you’re not seen as bailing out.
  1. Provide a detailed handover and ensure a smooth transition 
  • never leave your boss in a vulnerable position or caught off-guard
  • discuss with your boss if there’s anything specific he/she needs from you during handover—be helpful all the way
  • organise a quick meeting with your human resources department to work through exit questions
  • get organised so you’re not rushing during your last couple of days, creating havoc and causing panic
  • develop a plan and checklists so you don’t miss anything
  • leave behind detailed and clear written instructions, operating procedures and step-by-step processes as needed
  1. Write a short farewell email to those you work with
  • thank them for their support
  • remember a good time or two
  • tell them how they can reach you if you want to stay in touch
  1. Tidy up before you walk out the door
  • make sure your physical work space is clean, and organised, including your desk and drawers
  • check you’ve removed all personal items, so others don’t have to clean up after you
  • close off your computer properly
  • be organised to turn in all company-owned property on your last day, including your passes, mobile, laptop and keys
  1. Be positive until the last minute
  • If you’re leaving your job because you’re unhappy, remember that walking out the door bitter will do nothing more than leave a long-lasting wrong impression.
  • Don’t switch off mentally as soon as you hand in your notice since this will spoil what your good track record
  1. Never speak badly of your boss or colleagues post resignation
  • Never write texts or emails to your colleagues after you’ve left your job complaining or being negative about your boss or workplace. This will inevitably work its way direct to those with influence.
  • Remember that you’re the one who has resigned, so writing subversive emails to colleagues does no more than put them in an awkward and uncomfortable position.
  1. Remember the future 
  • No matter what your relationship with your employer, do whatever you can to resign in a way that reinforces your professional image and enables you to keep a relationship that’s as strong as possible.
  • You want to keep the door open since you never know what the future holds.

Final thoughts

  1. While often employers aren’t happy with a resignation—especially when a strong and productive employee quits—a professional boss won’t take the matter personally and they’ll treat you with the same respect you treat them.
  2. If you certain you’ll get the new position and doubt you’ll be allowed to give two weeks’ notice, discretely start completing work and getting ahead on deadlines.
  3. Don’t start removing personal items from your work area before you quit—you’ll create suspicion and cause concern.

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