It’s common, at some point, to decide that it’s time to quit your job . Whether you are moving on to a new position at a new company, or whether you are quitting the rat race altogether, you might feel as though you are ready for bigger and better things.
Your coworkers, and even your bosses, shouldn’t be forgotten, however. In fact, these same coworkers and bosses might be helpful to you down the road. You might need a letter of recommendation, or a former colleague might prove valuable as you network.
Before you quit your job, make sure that you are ready to do it right. Executive coach Kathi Elster is the author of Working With You is Killing Me, and she has 7 tips that can help you quit your job, hopefully without burning bridges:
1. Give the Required Notice
Find out how much notice your company requires before you quit. The standard is two weeks, but some companies like to have a little more notice, depending on your position. It doesn’t hurt to give extra notice if you can.
2. Train Your Replacement
It’s considered good taste to train your replacement. When I quit my job to go back to school for my M.A., I gave a month of notice, and I even helped interview and choose my replacement. Then I trained her. If you are willing to train your replacement, or at least come back for a day or two to provide some training, your former coworkers will appreciate it.
3. Tie Up Loose Ends
Make sure to complete as much as you can before you leave. Try to finish projects, or at least get them to a point that someone else can easily take over. You don’t want to leave your former colleagues dangling.
4. Don’t Take Company Property
“If you have borrowed anything from the office,” says Elster, “return it.” You want to make sure there is no reason for the company to come after you later. Don’t be a thief.
5. Thank Others
Graciousness can go a long way. “Take the time to thank  the people you worked with or for, and let them know what you appreciate about working with them,” suggests Elster. “You never know when you might need them again.”
6. Keep Negativity to Yourself
Elster suggests that you avoid being too negative about management as you leave. This makes sense even before you leave your job.
Elene Cafasso, another executive coach, agrees. “As tempting as it may be to tell people what you REALLY think of them on your way out the door, please don’t do it!” she says. “If you need to get it off your chest, write a letter at home and don’t send it.” Let go of your negative emotions, but don’t express them to your former boss or coworkers.
7. Don’t Bad Mouth Your Old Company
Not only should you keep your negative thoughts to yourself as you leave, you should also keep them to yourself at your new job. “Do not bad mouth your old company to your new company, or to anyone in your industry,” says Elster. “You will look petty and unprofessional.”
The way you conduct yourself as you leave your job can make a big difference in the types of relationships you have going forward. You can’t afford to ruin these potential networking opportunities.
(Photo: Quinn Dombrowski )