Ready to quit your job? Six tips to help you leave with a good reputation

Have you just resigned from your job, or planning to leave? Read six tips to help you leave with a great reputation. 

It’s time to say goodbye to your colleagues. People you have shared desks, lunches, projects and Christmas parties with. People who have seen you through the inevitable ups and downs of life. And now you’re moving on.

Maybe you have a new role. Perhaps you’re starting a business. Or you could just be taking a career break. Whatever the reason you’re going, there’s one last thing you need to accomplish: leaving on good terms.

Martina Daniels, a career expert from Resumes Planet, explains why leaving your job gracefully, and with goodwill, is so important:

“You’ll no longer be part of this job, but it’s part of your working history. Future employers will call your previous boss or manager to get recommendations and opinions.

Looking good in the eyes of future employers is not the only reason why you should leave your current job on good terms. It’s all about personal values and social etiquette.”

Six tips to help you leave your job gracefully

So how do you ensure you’re remembered as a popular and great colleague? Here are six tips to ensure your last two weeks in the job make the right lasting impression on your ex-colleagues and boss.

1) Resign with good grace

Different roles will have varying notice periods. So before you hand in your resignation, work backwards from the date you need or want to leave and make sure you give notice in time.

Handle your resignation with good grace too. Whatever your reasons for leaving, act with dignity and professionalism. Unless you really don’t think it’s a wise idea, resignations are usually better delivered face to face, then followed up with a properly constructed resignation letter.

2) Don’t leave loose ends

You may be eager to start your new job as soon as possible, but don’t do so at the expense of your current colleagues. Make sure you give your company enough notice and complete, as far as possible, any current projects.

If any work isn’t finished by the time you depart, ensure that you hand it over properly, fully briefing your replacement on what they need to do and leaving everything in good order.

3) Don’t be too honest

Inevitably your boss and colleagues will ask why you are leaving. If it’s genuinely to embrace an exciting new opportunity, take a career break or embark on your own business adventure, then by all means tell them.

But if you are leaving because you’re not happy in your current role, beware of being too honest. While some employers may welcome constructive criticism and observations, others will be offended. And you may end up burning bridges you’d rather keep, or blowing your chances of a glowing reference.

Colleagues who are left behind may also feel resentful that you are abandoning ship, or that you are being needlessly negative about a workplace they enjoy.

So honesty is not always the best policy! If you are leaving because you are unhappy, you may want to create an alternative story for leaving, to ensure you part on warm terms.

4) Don’t brag about your amazing new job

If you are leaving because you’re embarking on an exciting new job or other opportunity, beware of bragging too much. Yes your colleagues will be pleased for you – but only to an extent.

At some point your enthusiasm will start to leave them feeling left behind or dissatisfied with their own role. After all, if your role or this company wasn’t enough or you, what does it say about them? Should they too be looking elsewhere for new opportunities?

It’s even more bittersweet for colleagues who may also have been job hunting but not yet secured anything else.

So by all means tell people what you are doing – and be joyful about it – if they ask. But just be careful not to tip into bragging territory, or to make others feel bad about their lack of exciting new start.

5) Stick to your decision

Your boss or colleagues may try to talk you out of leaving. They could list reasons why you’re better off staying, try to diminish the choice you have made (perhaps suggesting your business won’t work or your new employer isn’t as wonderful as you think), or even tempt you with an offer.

But be careful. If you had good reasons for leaving, those reasons may not change with more responsibility or a higher salary.

And yes, there’s always risk with trying something new – a new job or starting a business – but unless someone has a valid reason why you’ve made a poor decision, you’ll regret not taking that risk if you back out. Who wants to wonder ‘what if?’

6) Don’t get emotional

Once it’s hit home that you’re really leaving, you may want to share everything you’ve been keeping inside for the last few years. To let people know they didn’t give you credit for your work, or that no one really likes them. But don’t do it!

An emotional outburst, however satisfying it may feel in the moment, may well come back to haunt you. You never know when you’ll need a reference, or will come across an ex-colleague or boss in future. It’s much better to part on good terms – so save your rants about how awful your ex-colleagues or boss were for your friends!

Be patient – you’re nearly done here!

Time may drag once you’ve made the decision to leave and handed in your resignation. You’re mentally already out of the door at this company, and eager to start the next phase of your life.

But be patient. Your last day will come soon enough, and in the meantime, focus on creating a positive impression of your skills and character (with everyone!) and close the door on this stage of your life with good grace – and a great reputation.

Micheal Gilmore is a career advisor and a blogger who loves writing about business, marketing, productivity and personal growth. In his parallel life, he loves hiking and can’t wait to see the Himalayas one of these days. Follow him on Twitter.