If you’re in the process of transitioning into a new career, but you still happen to be working at your old job, there’s one key aspect of that transition you don’t want to overlook: The rather delicate task of quitting your current job gracefully. We often get so caught up in the excitement of preparing for the new horizons in front of us that we forget that the steps we take now can affect our future—for better or worse.
Time for some straight talk—unless you’ve been laid off, you’re going to make some waves in the company the moment you announce your resignation. They’re going to have to figure out how to replace you, and they’re going to have to figure out how to keep doing business in the meantime. The easier you can make this transition for everyone involved, the better it will reflect on you. Let’s be honest—you may hate your current position, and perhaps you couldn’t care less personally if you burn your bridges or leave with hard feelings. But you never know who knows whom in the professional world, and if you leave on bad terms, it could come back to bite you at some point in the future—even if you don’t see any overlap between your old career in your new one. That said, here are a few tips for staging a peaceful, graceful departure from your current employer
Give the Proper Amount of Notice
Two weeks’ notice is usually the norm for announcing one’s intention to quit. However, if you work in a more executive role, it will be more difficult to replace you, so four weeks or more is often appreciated in these settings. (Sometimes the amount of acceptable notice is even stated in your company policy, so take a look there, as well.) Whatever is expected as far as notice, give them at least that much.
Be Prepared to Leave Sooner
In some positions, your job becomes vulnerable the instant you say you’re leaving. If feathers get ruffled unnecessarily, in rare cases your boss might invite you not to take the two weeks you just gave. At other times, an announcement to leave may cause an undercurrent of tension that may become more turbulent the longer you stay on. If this happens, don’t be surprised if you don’t last the entire length of your notice period.
Try to Quell the Gossip
Let’s face it—people talk. When they do, information (or mis-information) may spread where you don’t want it to. (The last thing you want is for your boss to find out from someone else that you’re leaving.) There’s no way to control gossip completely, but you can at least get ahead of it in a couple of ways:
- Let your boss be the first to know you’re leaving.
- Whatever your reasons for leaving, keep the story consistent. Don’t give your boss one reason and your co-workers the “real story.”
Before your final goodbyes, take some time and write some kind emails. Thank your superiors for the opportunities they’ve afforded you. Let your friends and coworkers know how grateful you are to have been a part of their team. This little added touch can go a long way toward maintaining goodwill even after you leave—and it may even generate some positive references you weren’t expecting.
Of course, sometimes a departure from your old job will be rough no matter what you try to do to avoid it. People are people, and you can’t always control how they will react when you rock the boat. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to create as smooth a transition as possible, so far as it depends on you. Quitting your current job on good terms can’t hurt your future prospects—in fact, it can only help you.