Quitting a Job Without Burning a Bridge

Odds are good that you will change jobs multiple times during your career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25-34 year-olds spend approximately three years in a job before moving on. Given this timeframe, knowing the right way to quit can leave relationships intact and may actually enhance your professional reputation. On the other hand, leaving in the wrong way can generate negative feelings that could affect the way you are perceived as a professional.

Here are five ways to make sure you leave your current job on good terms.

Keep your story consistent. The "real" reason you are leaving a job may be a variety of different factors, many of which would not be in your best interest to announce to your current or future boss. Some issues may be that your job is not challenging enough, you dislike your annoying coworkers, or you don't like working so many weekends. Explaining your departure in a positive way when speaking to professional contacts is the most productive way to leave your current position.

Communicate with caution. If you are required to do an exit interview, answer honestly but with diplomacy. This is not the time for you to unload your frustrations or tell your boss how you really feel about her. If you didn't find it imperative to address your concerns during your tenure, you might want to think twice before mentioning something out of resentment or anger.

Alert your clients. With the blessing of your boss, contact your clients and let them know that you will be leaving the company. There may be a specific procedure in place for announcing personnel changes to clients so always check first. They may be sad to see you go but will also feel relieved that their business will not lapse in the interim. When possible, offer the name and contact information of the person who will be your replacement and assure them they will be in good hands.

Create a seamless transition for your replacement. Draft a comprehensive plan that will let the new person step in and pick up where you left off. This should include your job responsibilities, daily tasks, the status of current projects, a list of client contact information, vendors, and other relevant details. Provide a detailed outline of what you are currently working on and the next appropriate steps for conclusion.

Make your last days on the job memorable. Work diligently to wrap everything up and leave a well-prepared desk for the next person. Avoid slipping into "short-timer" mode by slacking off on your work attire, taking long lunches, and visiting for extended periods of time with your friends. Show your dedication to the very end and create a lasting positive impression that will be remembered long after you have gone.

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