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How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

By Julianna Lopez
Business.com / Insurance / Last Modified: June 8, 2018
Image credit: Zanariah Salam/Shutterstock

This classic conundrum is one often asked by the Business.com community. Check out this helpful advice for answers.

You've done your research, gone through the interview process, waited for an answer, and it's finally all come together: you got the job! You're excited, nervous and anxious to start right away, but it's important that you take the time to tie up as many loose ends as possible at your current job to keep your good reputation intact. 

But getting out of your current job and professionally cutting ties with your previous employer is tricky. It's something that members of the Business.com community, like James O'Leary, often ask. So, we went looking for some definitive advice. 

Here are five tips for how to quit your job without burning any bridges. 

1. Be transparent and respectful.

Once you know you're leaving your current job, tell your manager before sharing your good news with anyone else at work. The last thing you want is for your manager to hear through the grapevine that you're leaving. 

Make sure you also understand your role in announcing your resignation. Is your manager going to handle it or are you going to be involved in the process? Be sure you're both on the same page so you don't step on any toes on your way out the door. 

2. Work with your manager to create a plan for transitioning your current and new projects.

During your last couple of weeks at the office, make sure you remain respectful of your manager's and co-workers' time. Don't slack off or become a distraction for your coworkers. If you're asked to offer your input for who can take on your projects, put together a plan to help transition your work to your colleagues. If you work directly with clients, speak with them to let them know you're moving on. Walk them through the transition process and answer any remaining questions they have. Be sure to ask your client about any concerns they might have and nail down what your organization can do to make them feel more at ease. 

Business.com community member Mark Friedman, Ph.D., sums it up nicely, recommending that you make "your transition smooth and do the least harm to your employer. That would mean giving your employer as much notice as possible." 

3. Be flexible.

Generally, giving two weeks' notice is sufficient, but if you aren't starting your new job right away, you might consider offering to stay in your current position for longer. The higher up you are in an organization, the longer it's going to take to train someone to fill your position. If that's the case, a month may be a more realistic timeframe to provide, but make sure you don't offer to stay too long. Once you've announced your resignation your team will have to begin to adjust to working without you. You don't want to overstay your welcome, so to speak. 

4. Be prepared for the exit interview.

Before you leave your current position, you will likely need to undergo an exit interview. While you may be tempted to unleash all your pent-up frustrations and complaints from your time in the organization, don't. The exit interview isn't an opportunity to vent, so remain professional and don't become overly emotional during the meeting. 

5. Express gratitude.

Whether you hated your current job and can't wait to move on or not, there were people you enjoyed working with and parts of the job you did like. Be grateful for the things that did go well and you did enjoy. 

Small, thoughtful gifts and notes to your manager, mentors and co-workers can go a long way to help you leave a good impression. However, if you're parting under somewhat contentious circumstances, it's not a good use of your time to attempt to improve an already negative situation. Try to stay professional and make as few waves as possible as you wrap up your remaining time in your current position. 

Remember, the way you conduct yourself during your last few weeks directly impacts your reputation, which is of tantamount importance to your career – much more so than any position you land. Do what you can to protect it at all costs.

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