When to Quit Your Job and How to Leave on Good Terms

Your career is all about growth. Trying new things, expanding your horizons, and moving up to take on new responsibilities. But in many cases that means leaving your current job—possibly even one you like—for something new.

Job transition can be an exciting time—the opportunity to stretch yourself and try new things, take on new roles, and most likely, increase your salary—but it also means leaving your current job. There’s nothing fun about quitting. But with the right approach, careful planning, and clear communication, you can not only smooth the process, but also ensure you leave on good terms so that you maintain those connections in the future.

Giving Enough Notice

The first and most important step is to give notice. Losing a valued employee can be devastating for any company that relies heavily on that person. Leaving with little or no notice only compounds how hard such a loss can be, and will almost certainly put you on bad terms with everyone on your way out the door.

Start by telling your boss. Even if you have close friends in the office, know that gossip will spread quickly, especially about someone quitting. Your absolute first step will be to communicate your intention to your boss, at least two weeks in advance of your exit if at all possible. This will allow your boss to formulate a plan and decide how best to communicate your news to the rest of the team. If you can give more than two weeks’ notice, all the better—it’ll help everyone to work through the transition.

Manage Your Excitement

You may be over the moon about your new job, but to a lot of people, your departure is a sad thing. They’re losing a colleague, a friend, and a valuable resource. Don’t brag about your new job or your increased salary, or how much better things will be as you move on. These are people you will interact with again in the future for references, or possibly even in a new position down the road. Be careful about the taste you leave when you walk out the door.

Tie Up Loose Ends

It’s tempting when a new job is on the horizon to check out and stop working as hard as you once did. The accounts that were top priority a few days ago suddenly don’t feel as important as they once did. Not only will people appreciate it if you leave everything as tied up and tidy as possible, but they will also remember you as someone with a strong work ethic who cares about their output.

This is a time for communication as well. If you manage any process documents, spreadsheets, or client/vendor relationships, be sure to document everything and share it with your boss and whoever will inherit your responsibilities. Don’t make it difficult for them to find what they need when you’re already at your new desk across town.

Build Connections

You see your coworkers every day and may not have taken the time to collect contact information and connect on LinkedIn. Now is the time to do this. These are people you can offer support to in the future and who can support you through references, job referrals, and professional support.

Take the time to send a farewell notice as well—something that thanks everyone for the time you’ve had at the company and offers a way to connect with you in the future if desired. Try not to disappear without a trace after you leave. There might be questions about difficult client accounts, or specific processes you managed, and while you’re under no obligation to help after your last day, answering questions can build goodwill for the future.

Talk With Your Boss Before You Leave

Not all companies require or even recommend an exit interview. But it’s a highly recommended process. You may even want two of them, depending on the type of company you work for—one with your boss and another with HR to discuss larger issues or concerns you want to share.

The exit interview with your boss, however, is the most important. This is a time to show gratitude for your time with the company, to offer advice and feedback for whoever is taking over your position and your responsibilities, and to leave a strong lasting impression before you are done.

Leaving is Never Easy, So Do It Right

If you don’t like your job, were bored in it, or are just extremely excited for the next opportunity, it’s easy to hand over your notice and check out, counting down the days until you can make the transition.

Leaving isn’t easy, so a lot of people avoid the difficult parts—the farewells, the meetings and training, and the task cleanup. But at the end of the day, not only can you help everyone with what could be a difficult transition, but you can also build a stronger relationship that may be of benefit to you in the future. This simple act of networking and relationship building over two (or possibly more) weeks can have a lasting impact on your career.