How to Quit Your Job & Maintain Relationships
January 29, 2019
So, you’re ready to move on to the next opportunity and don’t know how to quit your job without upsetting anyone. Everyone has been there at some point during their career, and while you may feel as though you’re letting your coworkers, management, or organization down, when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
As much as you may want to completely incinerate the bridges you’ve built while you’ve been with your employer and tell off anyone you’ve had problems with throughout your time with your employer, it’s ultimately best to keep them intact and leave with some dignity. After all, you don’t know who you’ll run into again in the future, especially if you’re in a highly-specialized position. If you can maintain your relationships from your previous positions, you can call upon them in the future when you need a recommendation, job referral, and more.
Maintaining your relationships when you quit can be a difficult thing to manage, but we’ve gathered some of the best tips and tricks fo you to use when you’re ready to move on to new pastures in your professional career.
Have you decided that it’s time to consider other options in your professional career? Have you already begun evaluating new positions or new careers? Have you just accepted a new job offer and are unsure of how to properly quit your job? If you are faced with any of these questions, then we will be able to guide you in how to effectively quit your job and maintain relationships.
Signs It’s Time To Move On To A New Job
One of the biggest challenges that people face in their professional career is whether or not it’s time to consider new job or career prospects. This question can be quite difficult to answer because everyone goes through a rough point in their role at work, and it can be difficult to navigate whether or not it’s just a rough patch or it’s officially time to move on and consider other options.
The healthcare industry can be a stressful environment, and sometimes we just need a change of pace in a new role to spruce up our energy once again. Instead of radically changing your career or starting a new job role entirely, sometimes it just takes a new environment.
It can also take a bit of time to evaluate whether or not we’re actually unhappy in a role, or if we’re just impatient about something else and we’re transferring that frustration to our job. If you’re trying to figure out whether or not it’s time to quit your job and pursue new opportunities, take a look at our 10 Signs That You Should Quit Your Job ASAP, where we break down some of the most glaring signs that it’s time for you to evaluate other options and consider different career paths.
How to Quit Your Job and Maintain Relationships:
If you’ve never had to quit a job before, then it can seem like a daunting task. If you’re considering other options because you’ve noticed that it’s time to move on to a new job then it’s a good idea to know what steps you need to quit your job and then keep those relationships that you’ve worked so hard to develop over time in your current role. Quitting your job and maintaining relationships that you’ve worked to develop can be a difficult balancing routine but with these tips, you’ll be able to have greater success than going on a revenge path and scorching the earth and burning down the relationships you’ve built.
1. Avoid Quitting Without a New Job
Everyone’s scenario is different when they’ve finally decided to quit their job and pursue new opportunities. The main thing you want to realize is that you don’t want to quit your job without having a new job lined up. Sometimes it can seem like a good idea to just quit and then get a breather before you start pursuing new opportunities. Or perhaps you think it’ll be difficult to secure interviews and manage the interview process while also working a full-time job.
The thing to remember with these two concerns is that you never know how long it might take to land a new job opportunity. Even if the industry you’re working in requires talent, the candidate interview and selection process can take months. Even if you’ve got savings built up and you can afford to not work for a couple months, there is still no guarantee that you’re going to have enough savings to hold you over until you find that new job opportunity. Not to mention, the last thing you want to do is to have worked so hard to develop your savings and be forced to use them when you’re looking for new jobs.
The best way to get around both of these concerns is to avoid quitting without a new job already lined up. Even if it’s difficult to manage for a short duration when you’re trying to manage your full-time job, personal life, and interviews — it’ll pay off in the long run by reducing the stress you could be facing if you decide to quit your job with no plan in place.
2. Start Giving Hints That You’re Leaving Soon
One thing that you want to do when you’re getting ready to quit your job is to start giving hints that you’re leaving soon. This might be subtle conversations around the fact that you’re hoping to receive a promotion soon, or that you’re interested in changing your role somewhat, or that you’re wondering if a raise might be coming soon.
These comments are a good indication to a manager that you’re currently unhappy in your role or the other benefits associated with the role. Avoid hinting to your co-workers that you’re exploring your options, as your boss might get upset that you didn’t tell them first. Focus on giving subtle clues that you’re exploring other job opportunities or career options to help them prepare mentally that you might be getting ready to move on.
3. Schedule a Meeting
The next thing that you want to do when you’re getting ready to quit your job is to schedule a formal meeting with those who are relevant managers, superiors, or employers. This meeting is largely designed to set a date when you and your manager can talk to let them know about your intentions to leave the company and pursue other avenues. Typically, employees only schedule meetings when they are unhappy about something, or they’re letting their employer know that they’re going to be quitting their job.
When you send them an email or ask them directly about setting up a meeting, the manager typically gets the hint that something is amiss. When you’re getting ready to schedule the formal meeting, you should also start prepping the answers in your head to questions they might have. In some cases when you ask to schedule a meeting, the manager will just ask that you have the meeting with them right away. This is why you want to prepare your answers in your head for common questions before you ask to schedule a meeting.
Your employer or manager will ask you questions that are similar to, “What made you come to this conclusion?”, “Is there anything we can do to keep you around?”, “Where are you going?”, and “When do you plan on leaving?”
The important thing to remember when you’re preparing your answers and getting ready to schedule the meeting is that you don’t have to answer all the questions they might have for you. You have the right to refuse to answer or politely decline and state that you’d like to keep that to yourself for now. If they ask about specifics, you can steer the conversation into an area where you are more comfortable, or once again emphasize that you’re appreciative of all they have done for you and your career, and you will always be grateful.
When you’re preparing your answers, your manager might also try and solve your problems to keep you on. If you feel that you need to move on from your current position no matter what, and you’re not interested in sticking around, then you need to have some polite answers to provide when they try and keep you around or mention that they’d like to solve the problems you’re facing in your position.
4. Give Your Employer Ample Notice
While the norm across all industries is the 2-week notice, in more highly specialized fields, such as healthcare it is important to provide more time for the employer to plan and get the transition plans set in place. Generally speaking, the higher the position, the more notice you want to give. Physicians and surgeons, for example, should provide 1-2 months of notice before their intended departure while nurses should aim for 3-4 weeks.
This also depends on the situation they are facing at the time. Currently, the U.S. is facing a national nursing shortage, so if your hospital happens to be one that is running especially low on nurses, give as much notice as possible to avoid leaving them in the dark.
In addition, when you give ample notice you also provide the employer to consider their options. Perhaps you’ve been considering other options because you’re unhappy with the benefit structure or the compensation package. Evaluating new candidates, hiring the ideal one, and then training them is one of the most difficult things in any industry, and most times it is more cost-effective for employers to compensate their employees more or make an effort to retain their employee than hiring a new employee.
Giving the employer ample notice is not only important, but it also allows you both enough time to potentially renegotiate your contract enough to make you consider sticking around. In addition, giving ample notice is critical to maintaining relationships. If you fail to provide enough notice that you’re going to be quitting and moving on to new ventures, it can send the impression that you’re putting a lot on their plate at one time. Essentially, it’s seen as forcing them to rush their evaluation process and scramble to get everything aligned so that things function while they are a team member down.
Another important thing to consider when you’re deciding on how much time you should give as notice to your future employer is whether or not your co-workers will have to pick up the slack. In nearly every role, this occurs. Your team is down an individual and the rest of the team members are forced to pick up the slack in some form until the employer can find a suitable replacement. If your goal is to maintain your relationships, the last thing you want to do is make your teammate’s lives more stressful by essentially doubling the work that is already on their plate.
The only exceptions to not giving a minimum of two weeks or the recommended 3 to 4 weeks or 1 to 2-month standard we highlighted above, is when there is a personal emergency, abusive work environment, or financial concerns like not receiving a paycheck for the work you’ve provided.
5. Tell Your Boss Before Others
When you’re planning who you want to tell about your career and job change, you want to make sure that you’re going to tell your boss before your co-workers or friends. The reason for this is that it might seem like you’re intentionally not telling them, and are hoping to catch them off guard. Avoid taling to your colleagues about your intentions until you have the opportunity to formally talk to your boss and establish the timeline of things that we’re about to cover.
This ensures that you’re both on the same page, and intentions aren’t misconstrued and your actions aren’t perceived as disrespectful.
6. Inform Your Superior(s) in Person
Just as with ending any relationship, it’s best to end it in person, rather than over the phone, text, or email. The latter methods will be perceived as disrespectful and will leave many unanswered questions, painting you as unreliable and unprofessional. It’s key when navigating how to quit your job that you approach the situation directly and professionally.
To ensure you maintain the reputation you’ve built while with your employer, be sure to sit down and answer any questions they may have about your departure. If possible, offer any constructive criticism about specific things you believe they can do to retain employees in the future. This alone can go a long way to maintain the respect of your immediate supervisors and coworkers. By putting your professionalism, interpersonal skills, and respect to work for you, you can ensure that you leave the best impression possible upon leaving.
Your official resignation or job quitting process starts when you start talking to your employer and announce your intentions. If you’ve been a productive employee, then your manager will most likely miss you the most because they’ve seen how valued you are as part of the organization and company. They’ve had a direct hand in watching you contribute to the team, and are going to miss the effort they’ve put in to help you become a more productive member.
When you inform your superior in person, you will also want to provide them with a formal resignation letter.
7. Provide a Formal Resignation Letter
Formal resignation letters are an important step to take when you’re getting ready to quit your job and pursue new opportunities. Formal resignation letters are essentially the official documentation that you are quitting your job and wish to set the process in motion for a smooth transition out of your role and into a role somewhere else. In addition, formal resignation letters provide a timeframe for them to stick to when you’re leaving.
These letters are often used to enter into your individual employee profile and alert the proper individuals in human resources that it is time to officially begin the search for a replacement in your role. Formal resignation letters are an important thing to include in an employee’s personnel file as it will often state the employee’s reasoning for why they decided to pursue other ventures.
When you’re getting ready to craft a formal resignation letter, you want to ensure that you maintain a positive tone and appreciation throughout the letter. Maintaining your relationships is nearly impossible if you provide a resignation letter that is negative, or attacks the employer and employees within the organization. Take the time to ensure that your resignation letter demonstrates your gratitude for the opportunity, includes reasons for your departure, and has an official end date of your employment.
If you’re having a hard time ensuring that your resignation letter comes across as positive, you can also have a friend or family member read it for you and provide feedback. Reading a resignation letter only takes a few seconds, and your friends and family members will most likely be ecstatic about helping you out because everyone enjoys the feeling of helping others.
8. Keep it Professional, Avoid Emotional Conflict
While you may despise some of the individuals you work for, or with, and sticking it to the man may offer some momentary happiness, it may come back to bite you in the long run when you need to seek a referral or a recommendation from a former co-worker or boss.
In highly-specialized fields, like the healthcare industry, the odds of running into at least some of the people you’ve worked with in the past are high. Going into some long tirade about the faults of your boss or organization can come back to haunt you in real ways.
First, employers still make reference calls, and some are taking to social media to find former coworkers of candidates and get an initial impression. Also, you never know who you’re going to be working for in the future. It could be your current boss, or it could end up being the one coworker who you just couldn’t walk out the door without giving a piece of your mind. Either way, it’s best to save your frustrations for a punching bag or pillow.
In addition, you don’t want to become a complete mess and start crying hysterically over something that has been affecting you for quite some time. Even if you’re under the impression that your meeting with your manager or departure is closed, you don’t want to send a bad impression to those individuals who don’t know you or are observing from a distance.
9. Coordinate with Your Employer
This one will depend highly on the importance of your current position and the situation your employer is currently in. If you work in a hospital and your organization is experiencing a drastic shortage in your position, it may be best to extend your plans, provide further notice, and stay with them a little bit longer. In doing so, you show that you care about the people you work with and will be recognized for sacrificing some of your time to make the lives of your coworkers easier.
In the same manner, if you’re currently managing a project with your employer or some other large task, avoid leaving for a new position until it is complete. If a key player in a team leaves, it takes more time to fill the void as they have to search for a qualified candidate and subsequently bring them up to speed on what’s going on. This all costs the employer both money and time, and it will ultimately set the project that you’re working on back which will also place a sour taste in the employer and manger’s mouth.
In addition, coordinating with your employer might be writing down any important documentation that the employer or your co-workers need to finish the project that you’re working on. In some cases, this might require additional training that you conduct, but the coordination with the employer is the step where you figure everything else out for a smooth transition. Essentially, it means ensuring that you and your current employer are on the same page. In addition, coordinating with your employer means that you identify anything that needs to be reviewed and taken care of before your departure.
Show them respect by fulfilling your end of the deal and completing the projects or tasks you’re on. Exceptions can be made here for projects that have expansive time frames or if your departure won’t largely affect the overall scope and pace of the project, so just use your best judgment.
10. Assist With a Transition Plan
While you’re coordinating with your employer and manager, you should be focused on determining whether or not a transition plan needs to be in place. This might include things like assisting with the hiring of a new employee, training that new employee, transferring management of your projects or responsibilities to others, and when you should turn over any proprietary information or equipment that the company or employer has a claim to like a personal badge.
Transition plans are essential to ensuring that you leave on a good note and maintain the relationship that you’ve worked so hard to develop. When there is no transition plan in place, things can delve into chaos and cause a lot of undue stress for all those involved, including your co-workers who most likely will be responsible for picking up the slack when you quit your job and move on to another job.
The best way to assist with a transition plan is to let your employer or manager know that you’re willing to help out in any way you can, up until the point where you’re no longer employed and have moved on to another job. This way you’re clearly stating that you’re willing to help, but only so long as you’re employed.
In many cases where the industry is quite large and the roles are quite common like the healthcare industry, transition plans are already in place because turnover occurs throughout the industry regularly, but it’s always a good idea to mention that you’re more than willing to help or assist in any way you can to once again highlight your willingness to maintain a positive relationship.
11. Avoid Feeling Guilty
When you’re getting ready to leave your position, you might feel a little bit guilty because of several different factors. Some of those factors include the fact that your current employer took a chance on you when they hired you, you’re part of a larger team that depends on you to get your portion of the work done, and you’re causing a little bit of chaos during the transition period.
In some cases, you might even feel a little bit guilty because you’re potentially sending off the message that you’re not enjoying your job or that you’re only leaving because of a particular group of people or policies.
Feeling guilty based on these factors is normal, but you should avoid it at all costs. It’s important to remember that you don’t owe your employer anything because you’ve worked hard to provide them value in your time as their employee.
Instead of feeling guilty, you should take solace in the fact that you have done everything you can to assist with the transition plan as we’ve highlighted earlier, you’ve given your employer plenty of notice that you’re going to be leaving, and that you have provided value to them during your time as their employee.
It’s important to remember that your professional career is just that, professional. Sometimes it can seem like you owe your employer more, but the reality is that you have to do what’s best for your career. Sometimes people explore other options because they’re looking for a better fit or new career prospects.
11. Take the High Road
When you’re getting ready to leave your current role, there are going to be those who are displeased with your decisions and your actions. This might be your co-workers, your managers, or the employer. There is no guarantee that your boss or employer will take your decision well, and you must be prepared to handle discontent during the transition process.
If there is some discontent between the boss, employer, and yourself – you should carefully navigate the terrain and ensure that you avoid responding to their insults or negativity. Keep your chin up, and maintain a positive attitude during the difficult time.
12. Be Careful with Exit Interviews and Exit Feedback
One of the most common things that occurs when employees leave large organizations or companies is to conduct an exit interview to receive exit feedback. Typically, these interviews are designed to allow the employer to collect feedback about what you enjoyed in your time working for them, what you wish they had done better, what things you would recommend to the organization, what you would recommend to future employees, and more.
During your exit interviews, you have to be careful with what you say and what feedback you provide. If you’ve been highlighting how grateful you are for the opportunity to work for the organization, and then go back on that during the exit interview – you run the risk of being perceived as a liar.
You want to maintain your positive attitude and once again reinforce how grateful that you are for the opportunity to work for them so you can maintain the relationships you’ve built and safeguard your employment prospects in the future.
You can provide feedback throughout your exit interview, but you want to ensure that your feedback is constructive and supportive. You shouldn’t come across as critical of the organization or your professional relationships.
13. Get Your Ducks In a Row
When you’re getting ready to go to a new place of employment, we can often get overwhelmd with all of the things that we need to worry about. Things like signing official paperwork, conducting exit interviews at your old employment, submitting all the important documentation to both parties, and more.
It’s important to get your ducks in a row to ensure that you have everything you need to start your new job successfully. For instance, you want to make sure that you’ve secured 401k transition plans, have found out whether or not you can use vacation or paid time off while you’re getting ready to switch jobs, and have a clear plan for your retirement accounts and medical insurance benefits.
You can get most of this done by contacting both your current employment HR and your future HR team. They will help give you all the required documentation you need and assist you with any questions that you might have during the transition period. After all, this is what they specialize in.
12. Leave Strong
When planning how to quit your job, it’s important to aim to leave on your front foot. Aim to leave when you’ve been performing with strength and have a lot of positive aspects of your employment to reference to future employers. The goal is to build an attractive work history to those that may hire you and the best way to do that is to perform at your best in your current position. This can make an impact on supervisors and coworkers alike if you’re doing such a good job that it takes some of the strain off of them.
When you leave or decide to quit your job when you’re underperforming or your performance has been lackluster lately, it will be harder to secure referrals, recommendations, or future employment if you need it down the road. You don’t want to limp to the finish line, you want to finish strong – and that also applies to the job you’re quitting.
13. Show Gratitude to Your Employer and Co-Workers
Be sure that, when you leave, those you’ve been working with know that you’re thankful for the opportunity and the time you spent with them. Talk to those you are closest with in the workplace and let them know how they’ve positively influenced you. You can write an email or leave a letter if speaking to them is not possible since it’s doubtful you’ll be able to find time to meet each and every person for a one-on-one.
14. Avoid Posting Anything Negative on Social Media
This goes hand-in-hand with launching an emotional tirade in the workplace itself, however, it is probably worse. Employers are increasingly searching for the social media profiles of candidates they’re taking seriously for positions and it’s an area in which many job seekers make mistakes. People have enough negativity in their lives, from their personal problems to the sensationalism of the national media. Don’t add fuel to the fire with your own rantings that they have no vested interest in.
In addition, you don’t want to talk negatively about a company you just left because it can be viewed as slander. Most contracts now have clauses in them that specifically prevent you from talking negatively with the intent to destroy the reputation of the company you just left. If you leave and talk negatively about the company that was employing you, you could incur legal trouble and increase the odds of damaging your reputation in the eyes of future employers and recruiters.
Employers and coworkers, past and future, may see your posts and it may greatly impact the level of respect they feel for you. At the bare minimum, change your profile settings to the highest level of privacy available and avoid posting things that you have a second thought about.
As future employers and recruiters evaluate candidate social media profiles, the last thing they want to see is that you are bashing all of the prior jobs that you held. The reason behind this is that they don’t want to see the same thing about their own company in the future if they take the risk of hiring you. In addition, it might indicate whether or not you could potentially talk about professional matters on your own personal profiles which are supposed to be kept private. Employers and companies don’t want their laundry hung out for everyone to see on social media accounts. So it’s a good idea to make sure you avoid posting anything negatively on social media accounts and change your accounts to private.
15. Be Willing To Train Your Replacement
One way that you can assist your current employer during the transition period is by offering to train your replacement. In some roles, a replacement will be able to step in and be able to take over your job with no extra training. However in most roles, there is a large learning curve that will cost the employer thousands of dollars to ensure they can get up to speed quickly.
You can assist the employer and help maintain that relationship a little bit more by assisting the new employee for the duration that you’re still employed. The employer is usually grateful for this because the training can take weeks or even months – and they also have two employees who are being productive during the limited time frame you’re still employed instead of just one.
16. Ask For Letters of Reference
One of the last things that you need to do when you’re getting ready to quit your job is to ask for letters of reference. If you and your manager were really close, they might be willing to provide you a letter of reference for future employment endeavors. In addition, you should seek referral letters or reference letters from some of your co-workers.
These letters are super important for future prospects because recruiters, hiring managers, and employers want to know what your former managers and co-workers think about you when they were working with you. You should only seek reference letters from those co-workers who you have good relationships with, and that you know will most likely provide a good reference. One way to get them to be encouraged to do it is to highlight the fact that you’re more than willing to do the same for them as well in the future.
Ensure that you also get all of their contact information so you can follow up with them later and give them a heads up about whether or not an employer will be reaching out to them soon.
17. Try to Stay in Touch
Most likely you’ve built close relationships with those you’ve worked closely and your work-friends deserve to know what’s going on, especially if you want to maintain contact in the long-term. Now, more than ever, it’s easier to keep people in the loop using social media. Try to avoid leaving anyone in the dark by notifying them of your decision and building your network on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Quitting on good terms is primarily about managing your reputation, essentially public relations. When planning how to quit your job, try to take how the situation will affect those around you in to consideration. The organization or employer needs enough time to fill the void that will be left when you leave, your closest coworkers deserve some notice as you may be working with them in the future or they could even be contacted as reference at some point, and be very wary of what ends up being posted to your accounts online.
All in all, leaving for a new position and maintaining the relationships you’ll be leaving behind is entirely possible with some consideration and mutual respect.
Best of luck in your new position!