How to Leave Your Job on Good Terms With Your Employer

Updated on April 30, 2020
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Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.

If you want to leave on good terms with your employer, make sure to tie up loose ends. Don't leave your office and important files in a big mess.
If you want to leave on good terms with your employer, make sure to tie up loose ends. Don't leave your office and important files in a big mess. | Source

You’ve decided that it’s time to quit your job and you’ve handed in a professional letter of resignation. You still have a few weeks left on the job. How do you use that time wisely so that your boss is left with a strong sense of your professionalism and work ethic?

8 Ways to Leave a Job Gracefully and Ensure a Good Job Recommendation

1. Maintain your impeccable work habits right up to the last day. Getting a good reference is essential to your long-term career development. Even if you are moving on to a job that has already checked you out and hired you, don’t take anything for granted.

2. Keep your emotions in check. Whether you are thrilled to be leaving your job or your departure is a less than happy occasion, maintain a professional attitude on the job until you walk out the door. You don’t want your co-workers to resent you for moving on to a better opportunity somewhere else. Nor should they have to deal with your toxic feelings of anger or resentment because you have been laid off.

3. Stay involved in projects, brainstorming sessions and meetings just as you normally would. Bring your best ideas forward even if you won’t be around to see them through. Someone else may be inspired to take up the project. It may be hard to let go of things that you've started (and may never get credit for), but that's all part of the letting go process.

4. If you're responsible for training your replacement, help him or her feel connected to the other staff members. Introduce the new recruit to each staff member personally. As you introduce each staff member, be sure to emphasize all the positive traits about that person, the work they do and the program or department they represent. Explain your role in training the new recruit to each staff person so they know that your time will be divided between your regular duties and training your replacement. Until you officially hand over the keys and walk out the door, the trainee is your subordinate and you're fully responsible for overseeing all the tasks related to your job.

5. Keep your files up to date. Hopefully, if you had spent some time planning in the days before you handed in your resignation, you started organizing your files. Continue updating the files and give your replacement as much information as he or she needs to know. The last thing you want is for your replacement to complain that s/he wasn't told about a certain project, an important client or some other critical details. If you can, facilitate a meeting with your supervisor and your replacement to explain all the details that have been handed over. Your supervisor may point out some things that you have missed; it's much better to catch those details while you're still working there, rather than having to be called later, after you've moved on.

6. Think carefully about an exit interview. If you agree to participate in an exit interview, be cautious about what you say. Some career coaches and experts say that you're not legally required to participate in an exit interview.1 Weigh the consequences of doing an interview carefully and if you do choose to participate, do not be critical of your co-workers. Instead, if there are areas that you strongly feel need improvement, focus on the process, not the person carrying out the task. Remember, anything you say can be used against you in the future when you need a reference. 2

7. Return borrowed items. If you have borrowed anything from your co-workers, even on a personal level, (ie.; a DVD, a CD or a book) be sure to return it before you leave. While everyone hopes that they will stay in touch with their favorite co-workers, there’s no guarantee that those ties will last. Avoid any awkward situations later on and return borrowed items now. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for anything that you've lent out to be returned.

8. Be grateful. Write a personal thank you note to your boss or anyone who you feel mentored or supported you while you were with the organization. That way, after you've handed in your keys and returned every single item that belongs to the company, you'll have one last final act of closure before you leave. For those who aren't the huggy, teary-eyed goodbye type, gracefully handing a card to your boss is a polite, thoughtful gesture that needn't be overly sentimental.

Do you always ask for a letter of reference when you leave a job?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Sally Hayes


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