How to quit your job nicely (and keep all your key relationships)

5 Easy steps to quit your job, keep your work friends, and move on to better things.

January 12, 2015 0

If you’re dying to quit your job screaming and yelling and pointing fingers at the “bad guys” in your office, that’s one way to do it. But, you’ll destroy so many relationships and goodwill that you’ll pay for it the rest of your career.

So how do you quit graciously…even if you hate your boss, or your job?

1. Have an exit plan.

Even if you have the worst, most terrible, horrendous boss you need to plan your exit. Only in absolutely extreme conditions, like sexual harassment, or severe depression, should you quit without notice.

Otherwise, for the sake of your career, and your sanity, you’ll want to plan your exit.

Do you have another job lined up? Are you planning a sabbatical? Are you launching your own business or working freelance? You’ll want to know what your next step is before you take the leap. It’s like the light at the end of the tunnel. The carrot at the end of the maze. That one thing that will you keep you optimistic even on the worst days.

2. Make an “emergency fund” a part of your exit plan.

There’s a few different ideas on how much of an emergency fund you need. I believe Suze Orman, personal finance guru, says 6 months. When you consider how much you need per month for rent/mortgage, food and other basic expenses and multiply it by 6…that’s a lot of dough!

Ali Brown, the entrepreneurial  guru for women, says you should have enough to cover your basic bills. In her opinion, if you wait until you’re comfortable to take the leap into self employment, you’ll probably never do it.

My recommendation is to save as much as you need to feel like you can survive for a few months just in case your plan goes sideways. When I started my own business I had my rent and food covered for 2 months. That meant I had enough money to feel ok. But not too much to feel comfortable. That motivated me to get out and H-U-S-T-L-E! Which is exactly what I did. I called around, emailed people, met with people, and landed a $10,000 contract the day I got my last paycheque from my job.

3. Make sure you’re “good” with everyone.

Now that I’m 15+ years into my professional career I’m astounded by how many people that were starting out their careers with me, are now in big important jobs. It’s awesome to have great relationships with motivated people…that can get you in the door of their company, get you interviews, recommend you as a freelancer, and so on.

But how do you build that?

It’s a lifelong effort.

The way you build a network of solid, successful people that are willing to help you out, lift your up, and bring you down (to earth) when you need it is by being nice to people.

Even when things are crap for you.

So when suppliers are calling you and you don’t want their product, thank them for reaching out and politely say it’s not for you. When a annoying very detail oriented person on your team is asking you to review that report for the 3rd time, smile. When there’s office politics and everyone is trashing another colleagues work, don’t participate. When you have insight that could help another department build a better pitch and win the new client…even on your last day…share it!

In the long term of your career you will keep these contacts for life. And when you need some advice, an introduction, a client…you have a group of people to call on.

4. Clean up after yourself.

Even if you get fired, laid off, or quit on your own accord, pack your things, leave a clean space, leave the keys, and don’t cause any drama.

5. Say thank you.

After you leave your job, send thank you notes to everyone that you worked with in senior leadership, managers of other teams that you worked with, your own boss and your own team members. Say thank you for mentoring you, being so great to work with, being an awesome leader, or whatever lessons you learned from them.

Even if you don’t love your boss, send a thank you note anyways. It’s never a good idea to leave on a bad note. Also, you may not love your boss personally, or you may think she is totally incompetent, but…they did something right…they know how to convince people to give her a more senior job than you. There’s always something to learn, and you never know when your bridge will cross again. Wouldn’t it be your nightmare if she ended up being a big client of yours in the future…or her cousin is your new boss? The world is small, and you never know.


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