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Tips for leaving your job the right way

Rich Hein | Nov. 27, 2012
Who hasn't wanted to throw up their hands and just walk out of the office? Don't do it. Learn the proper etiquette for leaving your job and ensure that your career and reputation remain intact after you leave your current position.

Know Why You're Leaving

"Even if the situation at the old job is bleak, take some time to reflect on the great experiences you had during your time there," says Stephen Van Vreede, Solutions Architect and founder of ITTechExec, a company that offers career lifecycle management and personal branding services. "This includes opportunities for advancement, professional development and leading high-profile projects. It also should include the network of friends and colleagues you've had the chance to develop," Van Vreede says. "This is vital, as your network will be one of your most valuable assets as you progress through your career."

Be honest with yourself and try to be objective. Just saying this job is terrible and I want to move on-- while it may be true-- isn't necessarily helpful. Think hard about your reasons and try to remove your emotions from the equation. Understanding these reasons will help you in your job search and career-planning strategies.

When Should You Deliver the News

Knowing where you are going is the key to answering this question. If you don't have a position lined up or a clear path, you really need to consider if it's the right time to move on or not.

You know your company culture best. Some outfits are fine with employees job searching, but many will want your resignation when they find out. "Being discrete is a good thing," says Van Vreede. The best time to drop the bomb is when your planning is done. A best case scenario would be already having an offer from another employer but that's not always possible. Planning ahead will make this time of transition less stressful.

How to Deliver the News

General office etiquette is to tell your direct supervisor in person. Something as important as this should not be trusted to email or phone calls. It's always professional to prepare a resignation letter before making your announcement. Do your best to keep things positive.

There may be other people who you would like to deliver the news too personally. Make the request to your direct supervisor. "It is often appropriate to tell whomever you first give notice to let you tell some key others directly," says Howard Seidel, from Essex Partners, a company that specializes in senior executive and C-Suite career transitions.

How to Respond to Counteroffers

Some say it's never wise to accept a counteroffer, but it really depends on why you're leaving. This is another reason to understand the reasons behind your decision. "Be prepared for it [counteroffers] by knowing what it would take the current company to keep you," says Van Vreede. If money is the main reason and your company offers you what you desire, then perhaps you should consider it, but if you're leaving because you don't like the company culture or management style, than no amount of compensation will fix that.


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