Saturday, 7 April 2012

Quitting with Grace

Everyone has that fantasy about quitting in a blaze of glory. You know the one. Telling your coworkers and your boss exactly what you think of them, waving the double-barreled bird with both hands proudly in the air, and driving off into the sunset. The office may even be on fire in the background, depending on how bad of a day you’re having. As much as you may want to do any or all of these things, your temporary catharsis will not be worth the aftermath.

Quitting a job is an art form, and it should be done with grace and class. This is your last chance to leave an impression, and you want to make sure that the last memory your company has of you is one of professionalism, regardless of how you actually feel.

At the very least, you will need a positive recommendation from your employer for future job searches. Also, the world is much smaller than you may believe and you never know when or where you will run into these people again. Imagine questioning your supervisor about his intelligence, managerial style, and his mother’s sexual decency. Feels good, doesn’t it? Now imagine a few years down the road when he’s the hiring manager at that new company you’re interested in. Save yourself the chance for future heartache and play it safe.

In my ultimate fantasy, I silently log off of my computer, walk out of the office, and never return. I don’t do this because I care about my future and in all honesty, that would be a pretty asinine thing to do. Instead, I always give at least two weeks’ notice (normally a month) and I make sure that my resignation notice is a properly formatted business letter.

Your resignation letter is the last official document you will likely have on file with your company. It should be professional and polite so that if your employer needs to remind themselves about who you are for a referral, you have left behind a positive impression. No matter what kind of experience you have had, be sure to thank your employer in your letter for the time you have worked for them. At the very least, you will have taken away life lessons from this job and they will have paid you for your time. Additionally, end your letter by offering your assistance in training your replacement or easing your transition out of the workplace.

On the other hand, if you have enjoyed your time at a company, be sure to tell them that. My previous boss was amazing and my coworkers felt like family. My resignation letter reflected my reluctance to move into a new career path.

After you’ve submitted your notice, there’s the temptation to completely slack off until your last day. What are they going to do, fire you? Obviously, this will leave behind bad memories in your wake but more than that, you’re setting your coworkers and your replacement up for failure. You might be on your way out, but you’re still getting paid. Don’t make everyone else scramble to cover your assignments as well as their own.

Whether your job has been a great experience or a complete nightmare, stay professional, continue to work hard during your final days, and be the kind of employee that your company will miss when you’re gone.

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