Quitting a job is easy. Leaving on good terms can be more complicated.
No matter how much you dislike a Manager or a company, I don’t recommend or encourage you to ever burn a bridge or end a business relationship with someone unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Melbourne is a very small town and your reputation is key. To be able to leave your job while you grow your network and secure future recommendations, it’s always better to leave an explosive ending to daydreams.
Just like ending a romantic relationship, this shouldn’t happen over text. Schedule a meeting with your boss, whether that’s in person or over zoom (thanks very much, Covid).
Breaking things off might feel uncomfortable. You might feel guilty: don’t. If you’re not happy, you don’t owe it to a company to stay on.
As great as you may be at your job, guess what? Everyone is replaceable, even you.
And unlike a romantic relationship, this isn’t personal, even if your reasons for quitting are. It’s business, baby!
Keep the conversation with your Manager polite and factual. You don’t need to tell them where you’re going if you don’t want to. You don’t need to say more than that you’ve decided to leave, along with a final date and to thank them for the opportunity of working with them, etc.
If you want to air grievances, always make sure to keep the conversation constructive. But consider first: is it worth it? You’re moving on to greener pastures. They may have been a horrible Manager, but you don’t have to meet them at their level.
If you feel pressured to share more than you want, to rethink your decision or to say something that will ruin a future reference check, it’s okay to simply respond with gratitude for everything that you learned and to answer that you’re certain.
Put It in Writing
Everything needs to be documented. Email your Letter of Resignation to your Manager and HR Rep and keep one for yourself as a paper trail that you’re the one who initiated your departure.
Short and sweet will do the trick: this isn’t the right time to let off steam. A statement that you’ve decided to leave and the final date you’ve set on are the only real requirements. If you want to add more, be sure to keep it cordial, polite and professional.
Four weeks is standard in a permanent role, so ensure you do a thorough hand-over and leave on good terms with both your team and Manager
If you’re in the middle of a busy season or a time-sensitive project, consider how much of a hole you’ll be leaving your co-workers in. If you can stay on until loose ends are tied, that’ll create a better chance for a great reference down the line – be smart.
And it isn’t just your Manager to keep in mind. Your entire network is one of your best tools for finding jobs down the line. You’ll want your former co-workers to remember you fondly. You may end up with regrets if you leave them to pick up the slack because you left in a rush.
Before you leave, use your time wisely and be respectful. It might be tempting to spend your last days scrolling social media or even worse, calling in sick. Don’t!
Write up a thorough handover booklet or spreadsheet for your replacement and ensure your work has been completed. Delegate tasks, forward emails, write down processes, offer to help train your replacement and make sure you’re not leaving your co-workers in the dark about any specialised knowledge you’re taking with you.
If your org has an HR department, you will be asked to attend an exit interview. Don’t panic! This allows your Manager and HR to understand where they can improve and why you are leaving.
Note: the exit interview is NOT a last chance to go nuts at your Manager about XYZ that happened three months ago. Let it go.
The time has come around to leave! Avoid bragging or gossiping. Keep the air clear and keep negative thoughts to yourself.
Every situation is different. If you’ve faced workplace harassment or bullying from your manager or a co-worker, self-care should be your top priority. If something unethical has happened, immediately leaving may be the best option as opposed to working out your notice period.
In most cases, however, as much as we’d love to say just what we think, I’d always encourage you to protect your reputation.