Putting the “Good” in “Goodbye” – Walking Away with Grace

Congratulations – after months of interviewing and networking, you’ve landed a new job! This is an exciting and empowering experience; but unfortunately, it also means you need to gracefully say ‘goodbye’ to your current employer (insert anxiety here). Change can be uncomfortable, but I’ve learned first-hand that planning ahead can help. Here are a few tips that might make a new career transition a little less uncomfortable:

1. Have an offer in-hand before you quit your current job.

I know, I know – this seems like a no-brainer; but, it’s entirely possible that you will land a verbal offer before getting the details in writing. If a new organization does make a killer verbal offer, accept with gratitude – then ask for the details in writing. If a recruiter says to you, “You’re so awesome – we’d love to have you on our team,” but nothing else, then all you’ve got is a really nice compliment. In short, make sure you’ve actually landed that dream gig before quitting your day job.

2. Tell your boss in person and before anyone else.

Gossip doesn’t ever occur in the workplace, right? Wrong – and word at work travels fast. You’ll want to think about what you’ll share with who; but your boss should always come first. Imagine how much more awkward the conversation will be if your supervisor says, “I heard from Sally you’re leaving. What’s going on?”

YIKES, PEOPLE. YIKES.

At the same time, feelings can be hurt; so if you have a close work-friend, tell them next.

3. Connect with HR.

Once you let your manager know, there should be a formal process – and that usually involves HR. You’ll need to figure out how to transition insurance benefits (for example, will you have any gaps in coverage?), retirement accounts, getting paid out for vacation time, etc. Have a resignation letter ready to go.

4. Support your team through their transition.

I can’t stress this enough – do not burn bridges.

“But, Ana, it’s a terrible work environment and my boss is awful and the hours stink and they gossip about me nonstop and all I want to do is leave immediately. And I will never go back there.”

Slow clap for landing a new job and not looking back. However, you never know if burning a bridge can bite you in the you-know-where. Try your hardest not to check out once you’ve given notice – be an active part of the transition. Can you help to search for or even train your replacement? Create a schedule of the items you’re working on? Remember, even if your work situation is as crummy as the one above, by leaving things well, you are helping the next person who will have your role – who will also likely have to deal with the same issues. Leaving things as a mess will likely only make their life more stressful.

Good karma = leaving things well.

Plus, you may be playing Taylor Swift’s “We are never, ever, ever, getting back together” on repeat as you leave – but you never know if you’ll end up needing to go back, running into your boss or a coworker at a conference, or working with them at another organization in the future. Never say never, ever, ever.

5. Say ‘thank you.’ In writing.

As mentioned above, have a resignation letter ready to go; HR or your manager may ask for it. In addition, however, write thank you notes to the colleagues and work friends who helped you and shaped your professional story. This acknowledges their impact on you – and helps to provide closure as well.

 

As Mindy Kaling says, “Sometimes, you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” At the end of the day, it’s not just about how you start; the impression you leave behind matters – and may follow you around.

 

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By Ana Clara Blesso
Ana Clara Blesso Assistant Director of Experiential Learning Ana Clara Blesso