Here are 5 tips on how to quit your job with style, ensure a clean departure that does not burn bridges and makes sure you will always get positive references:
- Your decision should be final and non-negotiable if you want to maintain your credibility. Be 100% sure. This means several prior talks with a boss or mentor and the realistic understanding that the reasons for leaving will not change shortly.
- How will your boss react? Prepare to receive a counter-offer and to hear something like “I understand, Mary, but please let me talk to my boss and see what we can do for you. You have been with us for so many years, don’t throw that away. By the way, where do you want to go to? Oh, really, to XYZ?? If I was you, I would really think about that twice. I do not mean to influence you but…”. Well, what’s going on here? Will the reasons that made you take this decision be different with a new salary or another job title? Why have they never offered this to you before? At the moment when you resign, your superior has a problem – you don’t. S/he might therefore try to keep you. However, the trust is broken. Forever. Your boss will not forget and you might be the first one to be replaced when someone better (=more loyal) turns up or when things get tight.
- If you have an exit interview, it may be tempting to say all the things that always bothered you in this company. Consider this well. Do you really want to change the company you are leaving? What’s in for you? Will there rather be a positive or negative impact on you when you criticize your employer, strategic decision or your boss? Give feedback when you are asked but don’t try to change the world. It is too late now and whether the reasons that made you resign will change or not is irrelevant for you (please ignore this point if you are Robin Hood or Mother Theresa).
- Do not change your professional and loyal manners until the last day you are on the payroll – and beyond. Think about your reference and what your colleagues will think and say about you. You can be sure that one day, someone will call and take a reference on you and all you want to avoid is “well, he was actually good but I do not wish to comment on the end of his time with us…”
- Never ever talk negatively about your former employer as this will always have a negative consequence for you. If you give reasons to third parties, a good answer can be e.g. “XYZ is a very good company and I am grateful for everything I learned there. However, it was time for me to move on and I had this fantastic offer which I simply could not turn down”.
Be sure of your decision and don’t let anyone turn you around. At this point, think only about what is good for you (the confidence that you stayed professional until the last day and will therefore always receive a positive reference). If you don’t look after yourself, no one else will.