Many times, employees leave a job for a new one on the best of terms. Perhaps relationships were great and a worker is moving up, or to a position that offers a new experience. Maybe life circumstances change, or the family needs to relocate.
But often, leaving one job for the next is not pretty. After all, if the situation was perfect, the employee might not be leaving, right?
Whether parting circumstances are rosy or rancorous, you’ll want to make sure to leave gracefully, courteously and on the best terms possible. Here are some tips to ensure you walk out with your head held high:
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It’s okay to be covert, but don’t be sneaky.
What’s the difference? Intention. You can keep your job search, your reasons for leaving and personal actions private, but you shouldn’t engage in any behavior that makes you feel like you are “sneaking around.” Feeling that way could be an indicator you are doing things you shouldn’t. Use those feelings as your moral compass.
Assess how your boss and coworkers will treat your departure.
Ideally, you should give two weeks notice to allow your office to prepare for work in your absence. But this isn’t always possible, or a good idea. Perhaps your new employer wants you to start right away. If your work situation is toxic, your employer could dismiss you immediately. Or they could allow you to stay, but treat you resentfully and disrespectfully. Be confident (a) your supervisors will allow you to continue and (b) if they do, be sure the environment will be a place you will want to be.
Remove your personal items from your office before you announce.
Nothing is more degrading that packing up under watch after you’ve been asked to leave immediately. Leaving will be much cleaner and feel lighter if you are already ready to go.
Clean up your computer, phone and other company issued tech.
Unless things are really bad, or you work with highly sensitive information, your boss probably won’t go on a witch hunt on your tech. But you never know. Return phones and iPads to factory settings. Clear out your downloads and browsing history, and remove any personal files. Of course, do not take any company files, and organize your work files. That’s just polite, and good karma, which brings us to …
Don’t burn bridges.
You never know when you’ll need a former employer, manager or co-workers for a reference. Also, you could find yourself wanting to return to the company at some point. No matter how you feel in the moment, leave with class and dignity. Keep giving effort and quality work in your final days.
Return all company-issued property, keys, badges, etc. so you don’t have to make a return trip.
This just makes you look responsible, considerate and well-prepared.
Understand that any bonuses or tuition reimbursements, etc., in progress may be withheld.
Stipulations about repayment in the event you leave are not always clear in the employee handbook. If you have a payment in progress as you are leaving, your employer may not come through for you. Be prepared to lose the payment, wait to leave until you’re paid, or bargain with your new employer for a signing bonus if that reimbursement does not come through.
Be sure to understand all implications of heath and life insurances as well as pension or 401k implications.
You’ll want to make sure you are covered in your transition time.
Negotiate a flexible start date and/or a signing bonus.
Make sure you don’t take a financial hit if your employer dismisses you immediately. You don’t want to find yourself unexpectedly without pay during any down period between jobs.