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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.

The bottom-line: Have a straight-forward message, "I'm leaving, all ahead full." If a counteroffer is something you might consider know exactly what it will take for you to stay.

How Much Notice Should You Give

It seems like common sense, but it needs to be said: You should never walk out on a job. While conventional wisdom says two weeks, you must take into account the complexity of your position. Is this something you can turn over in two weeks? Will it take more time to find and train your replacement? "It often doesn't sit well with companies to have someone leave at a critical time--then again, sometimes that can't be helped," says Seidel, "Be prepared if you do give notice that a company may terminate you early anyway."

You don't always have the luxury of providing more than two weeks, but if it's possible than consider it. Your new employer should understand and appreciate that you are willing to go above and beyond for your former employer.

Prepare a Proper Transition

A solid transfer of knowledge will be remembered long after you've gone. "Before giving notice make a list of things to know and pass it along; the list should be one that anyone in your department can understand. This could be status reports on projects, a development punch list you're working on, notes on knowledge you may be the primary (or only) holder of," says Van Vreede.

Update Resumes and Online Profiles

If you aren't moving directly into another position then you need to consider your portfolio and online presence. "You definitely want to have your resume, cover letter, online profiles and other job search documentation completed and live before launching your job search," says Van Vreede. This will include your resume, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ pages. Trying to get this done after the fact could leave you scrambling.

Secure References From Colleagues

If you aren't moving directly to a new job, contact two or three people whom you've worked with and ask them for a recommendation immediately after leaving, while memories are still fresh. You've got to put some thought into this. Whose testimonial will offer the most bang for the buck. It's also wise to ask these colleagues to mention specific areas of your expertise that will help you reach your goals. For example, if you're a content manager, but you are also a knowledgeable SEO person and you want to work as an SEO specialist, guide your colleague to talk about your proficiency with SEO. Another great resource for recommendations are clients and former employees. "If you have left a company and no one will talk on your behalf, that can be a problem. Have a reason to explain it and other references outside the company that are very strong," says Seidel.


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