Why and How to Exit a Job on Terrific Terms

June 19, 2018
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Whether the decision to leave your job is difficult or a dream come true, it’s critical that you leave on the best possible terms. Once you’ve decided to depart your employer, follow these steps for long-term career success.

1. Give proper notice. Regardless of how you may feel, do your best to give a minimum of two weeks’ notice which is common job exit etiquette. This underscores the importance of Dale Carnegie’s 17th Human Relations principle, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.’ Anything less than two weeks would leave your former employer scrambling to find a replacement. Also, colleagues are typically relegated to bearing the brunt of taking on a departing employee’s previous work. Should your employer request that you leave sooner, enjoy the time you have off before your next endeavor begins.

2. Follow office protocol. It’s easy to let responsibilities for your current role slip during the time leading up to your departure, however stay on top of things. You may have to go above and beyond your normal duties. For example, you may be asked to document something(s) from a knowledge sharing perspective. It’s critical to complete any such tasks because you’ve worked so very hard to develop your positive professional impression. Doing the right thing will help protect that precious reputation over your entire career.

It’s not only the ethical step to take, it could benefit your later on in your career. According to a Kronos and Workplace Trends survey, over three-quarters of HR professionals said they’re more open to the idea of rehiring a past employee than they were during the previous five years. Moreover, 40% of workers said they’d consider taking a boomerang position. You never know where your career will take you, so fireproof the bridge with your current employer instead of burning it.

3. Be positive in your exit interview. Some people consider the exit interview their only opportunity to unleash pent up frustration, disappointment, resentment, etc., however it’s not a therapy session. Providing constructive criticism is important and must be done properly. Warning—do not insult any person, process, or thing!

First, apply Dale Carnegie’s 22nd principle, ‘Begin with praise and honest appreciation,’ by thanking the interviewer for his or her time and the opportunity to work at your employer. Next, frame your feedback in a way that, ‘Gets the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately,’ Dale Carnegie’s 14th principle. For example, instead of saying, “My sales goals were always so ridiculous; there’s no way I ever could’ve reached them to earn my annual bonus,” you could say, “One of the greatest challenges for me was hitting my sales targets. I felt that they could only be attained with additional training or more resources to support my bigger accounts. Due to budgetary restrictions, those options weren’t viable.” This sends a similar message, but is painted in a positive light and demonstrates your consideration, effort and proactive nature.

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