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Hire Right, Part I – Quitting Your Job The Right Way

Note: This is the first in our Hire Right series, showing candidates and employers the process of finding the best employees

To Hire Right, there must be a job opening. Can you relate to these stories?

I recently had a long-term employee who struggled to reacclimate to an office setting after working from home during community lockdown. Shortly after the company’s return to the office, the employee submitted two-weeks’ notice, which allowed us to begin searching for his replacement with minimal urgency.

I spoke with one of my consulting clients that shared this recent story: One of their managers, who had been with the company for about six months, had challenges producing the desired results.

She became frustrated with corrective criticism and resigned via a short email on a Monday morning with no notice or face-to-face interaction.  It left their company scrambling to fill the crucial position, and many priorities were pushed aside in favor of finding a replacement.  This is an unprofessional approach under most circumstances, but particularly for an executive with a high salary.

When someone leaves a job, the departure often comes with hurt feelings, bruised egos or some other form of disappointment on all sides. Those personal issues can’t and must not be placed in front of the professional obligation – unique circumstances aside – to exit gracefully, with in-person communication and at least two weeks’ notice so both sides can part on amicable terms.

Here are quick DOs and DON’Ts for quitting your job:

DO attempt to work it out

An employee’s reason for wanting to leave might be an easily fixable problem based on a misunderstanding or correctable miscommunication.

Handing Over Resignation

If both sides are amenable and the situation can be salvaged, try talking it out before making an emotional decision that can’t be reversed.

DON’T quit via phone, text message, email, or other electronic service

This is the most important advice I can offer about leaving a job. Younger members of the workforce might see the efficiency in a swift resignation over text or email that sidesteps an uncomfortable conversation.

But, to put it bluntly, quitting electronically or over the phone is unprofessional and an abuse of the trust you inherently earned when you took the job. It’s also damaging to your future prospects, because a boss who feels blindsided by your departure is less likely to offer an endorsement or positive reference once you’re back on the market.

Put your resignation in writing, present it to your boss in person and have the uncomfortable conversation. You’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll have a clean emotional slate when you begin your next job.

Employee Marks Resignation Date

DO offer notice

For the benefit of your coworkers who have been in the trenches with you, resign with the customary two-weeks’ notice so they can begin to prepare for a work life without you. Don’t just leave behind the necessary materials, systems, strategies and ideas, but explain how they’re best utilized and ease the transition for those who might temporarily be picking up additional, unfamiliar tasks.

DON’T feel an obligation to explain your reasoning

Your in-person resignation doesn’t need to – and shouldn’t – turn into a debrief of every detail about why you’re leaving and what went wrong. Keep it short and to the point. If you’re asked for an explanation and don’t feel comfortable giving one, politely decline. Your only obligation is to resign face-to-face with notice, and fulfilling those necessities enables you to walk away – literally and figuratively – with your head up.

DO set aside time for the conversation

The best way to approach your boss with bad news is to make sure it’s on his schedule, even if he or she doesn’t know what’s coming. Find an opening on the calendar and give your resignation the formality it deserves, even if you’re only planning on a brief conversation.

DON’T burn bridges

You’re quitting, so cut ties, leave bitterness behind and move forward. Don’t leave a malicious review on social media or otherwise publicly flame your former employer. Don’t even keep your frustrations in-house with a harshly worded email or text to the boss or your former coworkers. Resign professionally, finish your tenure, and walk away without baggage.

Employee Yelling at Boss

Many opportunities to improve the culture, structure and performance of your business begin with an employee’s departure. Handling it the right way, outlined within this post, is also an opportunity for personal growth for both the employee and employer. Take advantage of it. Part on good terms and make the best of what can be an awkward, uncomfortable, difficult situation.

Want to share a story of an employee quitting the right – or wrong – way? Think there are more Dos or Don’ts for bowing out gracefully? Leave a comment below.

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