How to Leave Your Job

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You just resigned. Or were laid off. Or were even fired. Now what?

The end of a job, whatever the reason, is a major change in your life and is often accompanied by shock and anger. In most cases you have spent a significant amount of time with co-workers, clients, colleagues, etc. Now all of that is gone, and so it is natural for very strong emotions to arise.

When you leave a job, how you act is very important to your career, as your actions and behavior follow you, perhaps more so than your overall on-the-job performance. Today more than ever, companies want to know as much as they can about the person they are hiring (or have just hired), so you don’t want to do anything upon your exit that would anger or embarrass your new employer or hurt your chances with prospective employers.

One of the most powerful and influential tools used today is the backdoor reference.  Employers and recruiters, armed with social and professional networking tools that allow them to learn more about you than ever before by finding people within their own networks who know you, now have a lot more information about your actions and behavior.

Whatever the reason for leaving a job, you should have a plan. Since terminations are often unexpected, here are several things to keep in mind to help you through the exiting process:

  • Always Act Professional – Your emotions are in high gear. Surprise. Anger. Hurt. Fear. Set those aside and take the high road. Thank your supervisors for the opportunity and follow their instructions to collect your personal belongings. You never want to burn bridges.
  • Change For The Future – During the exit or termination meeting you will likely want to ask for an explanation or reason, if a specific one is not offered. Usually though, you will not get a detailed explanation. So a better question to ask is what you could change about yourself or do differently in the future. The response may be a bitter pill to swallow, but should be taken to heart as you look at future opportunities.
  • Maintain Integrity – Avoid taking (stealing) company files, contacts, equipment, etc. Should you have any company property at home, ask how to arrange for it to be picked up or shipped, and be sure to promptly return any keys or parking passes issued to you.
  • Saying Goodbye – That may be the last thing you want to say to the person firing you, but there are a lot of other people in your office you will want to say goodbye to. But this can be tricky for you and your soon-to-be former employer, so handle this message as carefully as you would anything else in your job. The best way to do this, professionally, is to send a brief email from your personal email account or through LinkedIn. It is ok to include your personal contact information. However, you do not want to air your dirty laundry or complain about the boss, the company, the job, nor should you offer your version of events.
  • What Will They Say About Me? – If appropriate, as in the case of a resignation or layoff, ask your supervisor to be a professional reference for you in the future and, if the answer is yes, be sure to periodically keep in touch with that person and with updates on your professional achievements.

Leaving a job on your terms or not is always a big event in your life. You may have a plan if you are the one resigning, or even a backup emergency plan just in case you are ever unexpectedly out of work. But having a plan about how to leave your job will help make the transition easier and keep your post-employment reputation intact and positive.

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Russell Wolf is Director of Strategic Development at Technical Connections and has over 16 years of experience in delivering effective staffing and software development solutions for the Information Technology industry throughout California.

Email Russ directly – rwolf@tci-la.com and follow him at twitter.com/iamthejobguy

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