Scared about leaving your job? Quitting more common than you think – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker holds more than 11 jobs before turning 50 years old. They also project that that number is expected to increase. Changing jobs also means leaving jobs. Don’t leave on a bad note by failing to prepare. There’s a right way to tell your boss and coworker that you’re quitting, a way that hinges on timing, respect, and simple preparation.
Here’s how to plan your exit strategy:
Timing is everything
Make sure to give your two-weeks’ notice at the end of a big project or assignment, so that your co-workers aren’t left scrambling to fill a critical spot. Flexibility is also important – if you can, offer to work a bit longer than 2 weeks to help ease the transition for your manager or team. But also be prepared to leave on the spot, depending on your company’s culture.
Your manager should be the first to know
Never let your boss find out through the grapevine that you’re planning to leave. Resist the urge to divulge your plans to coworkers, and let your boss be the first one to know you’re leaving. Schedule a meeting with your boss in person, and be prepared. Have a detailed transition plan in mind that you can explain clearly and concisely. Also, be prepared for a counteroffer. What kind of counteroffers would solve the issue of why you’re leaving the job in the first place? Brainstorm general topics that might come up in the meeting with your manager, and think about answers and explanations for them.
Also stay positive throughout the entire exit process. Resist the urge to give harsh criticisms in your exit interview (if you have one). Instead, be earnest about why you’re leaving the company in a way that’s constructive for you and your boss. You don’t want to burn any bridges with your boss, or with your coworkers when you leave.
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Leave a clean trail with coworkers
After you speak with your boss, let your coworkers know that you’re leaving. Try to tell everyone personally, so that they’re not caught off guard by hearing the news from someone else. Resist the urge to tailor your story to each person and stick to the same story about why you’re leaving. People will find out eventually why you’re quitting, so be up front about it. Also, make sure to emphasize how important it is to you to stay in touch with your coworkers – not only virtually through LinkedIn, but also on a personal level. With the amount of jobs that the average American goes through these days, you could very well be working with the same people again in other capacities.
Try not to gossip with your coworkers about a bad boss or an annoying coworker. If there are serious complaints about what your company can do better, bring them to your manager and present it in a constructive way. But make sure above all to express gratitude for your time at the company. Share with your boss and your coworkers all you learned and enjoyed about working at the company, and how you’d like to maintain a relationship in the future.