A friend of mine once told me that he couldn’t believe how I managed to leave jobs without burning bridges, even the ones for whom bridges would probably be better burned. I’m a firm believer that nothing good comes from leaving any relationship, business or otherwise, bitterly, or angrily, or with hurt feelings. Obviously, there are situations where work relationships are unsalvageable; however, in the event that you’re planning on leaving employment with a company voluntarily, here’s my advice on how to do it with grace, dignity, and perhaps even a few contacts and references in hand.
1. Be honest, but be kind . When it comes to telling your boss that you’re going to be leaving the company, do so firmly, kindly and without whining. If you’re leaving for another company, tell her that you received an opportunity that you felt was too good to pass up. If you don’t have another job lined up, tell her that you’re leaving for personal reasons, and are planning to take some time off/spend time with your kids/whatever before working again. Thank her for what the experience working at your current employer has taught you. If she suspects you’re angry, and presses you for a reason you’re leaving, be careful about taking the bait: just say that as it turns out, the job wasn’t a right fit, and that the fairest thing for all parties involved to part ways. If you have to, give any details in a constructive manner. Think of it as the work equivalent of the "it’s not you, it’s me" speech. Sort of.
2. In writing your actual resignation letter, brevity is key . There is absolutely no reason for you wax poetic with a long explanation detailing the transgressions of your employer. In fact, I’m in favour of the two-sentence letter of resignation: "This is to inform you of my intent to resign my employment, effective X date. Thank you for the opportunity to have worked with your organization. Sincerely, Jane Doe." Save the reasons for your departure for your exit interview, and if possible, voice any criticisms orally and not in writing, keeping number 1, above, in mind.
3. If you’re really leaving without any hard feelings, offer to help transition your position to your successor . Chances are they likely won’t take you up on your offer, but it’s a nice gesture to make.
4. After you’ve given notice, and especially after you’ve left the company, resist the temptation to gossip or vent to former coworkers . Remember, the name of the game is "class." Smile politely if someone tries to get you to dish on your boss or the reasons why you left, and stick to the "just wasn’t a good fit" party line. If you were privy to confidential information while you were still employed, remember that duty of confidentiality remains with you after you leave, and this is especially not the time to divulge company secrets.
Finally, I know there are some of you who are thinking, "but wait a minute. My company treated me very, very badly. In fact, I bet their actions were illegal. Why shouldn’t I tell them where to get off?" As a lawyer, I can tell you that this is EXACTLY why your discretion is paramount — you don’t want to give your employer any ammunition as to why you shouldn’t have worked there in the first place. If you feel that you’ve been the subject of discrimination or any other poor treatment, then save your venting for your attorney, where you will have attorney-client privilege, and can be as frank as you like. Otherwise, "discretion" and "class" should be your ultimate watch words.
And for those of you who are leaving on amicable terms, congratulations. And remember, "discretion" and "class" can often get your a letter of recommendation or contacts in your future endeavours — which are always good things.
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With this, this is my final post here at Full Time, All the Time; however, I leave you in very good hands: the lovely Britt, of Miss Britt , will be taking my place alongside Robyn as they help navigate the waters of full-time-all-the-time-mommyhood. But wait! You can’t get rid of me just yet! Tune in next week for Work It, Mom!’s newest blog, Off the Clock: Books, Movies and More . There, you’ll find recommendations and reviews for the best books to read during business travel, best books to read after the kids have gone to bed, best DVD’s to rent for family movie night, and more. And if you have any recommendations that you would like to have featured, you can always e-mail them to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to seeing you there!