It’s a small world, so you can’t afford to tarnish your reputation by quitting in anger. When you know it’s time to go, here’s how to leave on a good note.

Have you noticed that many industry superstars have worked for most of the major businesses in their field and have left every job without causing any bad blood? At the same time, others who go out with all guns blazing will find that the industry talks, and as a result, they're not welcomed at companies that have never employed them.

Knowing how to make a graceful exit from a business is vital in today’s connected environment. As companies grow and merge and as people bounce between them, old memories of a fiery exit can have lasting effects on future job opportunities. 

So when you are sure it’s time to go, do it well and do it right.

here’s a handy checklist.

    Young woman working in the office
    Young woman working in the office

    1) Is there really no other way?

    Would an honest discussion with your manager help to solve anything? Is it worth asking for a pay rise, greater promotion opportunities or less travel etc? If you’re leaving anyway, be honest about the reasons and consider whether it’s worth giving the business another chance.

    2) be familiar with your contract’s notice period

    A healthy and happy resignation rarely means packing your things and leaving immediately. Check your contractual obligations and, if possible, be flexible if the business would like you to stay for a little longer.

    3) put it on paper

    Write a courteous letter outlining your notice period and the end date (see below). Include professional reasons for leaving and steer clear of emotional reasoning and language.

    4) organise a meeting with your manager

    Bring your letter to the meeting and clearly explain your reasons for leaving. Keep negativity out of the conversation and emphasise the positives around your time with the business. Discuss details of the handover period and be as helpful as possible.

    5) ask for a reference

    If your leaving has been a positive experience for all, senior members of the business should have no qualms about providing you with a reference or at least agreeing to be verbal referees.

    What to include in your resignation letter:

    • A statement of resignation, the position name, and the date from which your resignation will be effective.
    • A short line/paragraph explaining your reason for leaving.
    • Something positive about your experience in the position – what you gained e.g. training, development, achievements, experience.
    • Thank your employer for the opportunity if appropriate.
    • You may offer to help make the transition easier through training the new person.

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