How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Your Bridges

By | October 4, 2014

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Most of us have a time in our careers when we realize we need to quit a job. Some may even fantasize about a dramatic exit, such as telling that boss what you really think as you scream, “I quit!” The reality, however, is that you never want to burn bridges and lose the connection to a past employer. There are some important considerations that will help you move forward along a more positive, dynamic career path.

Ready

Think of your professional life as a journey. Just as with any other trip, you’ll want to pack and be prepared. Your first focus in quitting your job involves getting ready. Even if you are unhappy in your current position, maintain a positive demeanor and solid work ethic.

Without being obvious, start collecting documentation of anything that shows your achievements in this position. For example, make sure you have copies of annual reviews, awards received, promotion announcements, and other such milestones of your time in that role. Any materials you created (e.g., for a project) that you retain proprietary ownership of should also be gathered to take with you.

Packing for your future career journey will come in handy when you need something, such as documentation in support of a future job application.

Set

Have you ever noticed how happy and friendly people typically are on a trip? Continue to be that person as you announce you are quitting. First, ask to speak with your immediate supervisor to let him or her know of your upcoming resignation. Express gratitude for the opportunities you were given with the company and that moving on is a bit bittersweet. Offer to assist with the transition. For instance, your boss may appreciate your willingness to train the employee who moves into the role you’re leaving and two weeks’ notice before leaving is standard. Finally, share your enthusiasm for your upcoming opportunity and assure your supervisor that you are leaving for positive reasons.

If there are others you feel you should speak to in addition to your immediate supervisor, do so quickly. Word will travel fast, and you don’t want other co-workers learning of your departure prematurely. As you speak with others, assure them that you will continue to wrap up any remaining projects or responsibilities.

In addition to verbal conversations with others, you will need to write a letter of resignation to your supervisor. The letter should also include all of the above considerations: express gratitude, offer two weeks’ notice, provide assurance that you will wrap up your job responsibilities, and anything else you feel should be mentioned based upon the conversations you’ve had. Be sure to provide your contact information in case any follow up is needed.

Go

During your final two weeks, avoid being a “lame duck” employee. Continue work as if you were not leaving. Do all you can to make good on your promises to complete projects and other job duties. Clean out your work station or office so that the next person doesn’t have to.

This final period should also be about relationships. Secure your professional network by suggesting a get-together soon after your last day. Doing so will help you continue to be in contact personally and professionally with your colleagues. If an opportunity did not present itself in one of your previous conversations, ask if others would be willing to remain references for you and offer to do so for them.

Quitting a job should receive the same care that you gave when you started it. Leaving on a positive note rather than burning that bridge behind you will help you continue on a more dynamic career path.