Diplomacy is defined as “tact and skill in dealing with people.” While it is always a good idea to be diplomatic in your personal and business dealings, it is especially important when you are leaving a job.
The world is much smaller than we sometimes think. You never know when or how paths will cross again, especially considering the fluidity of today’s job market. When you are leaving a job, it is not the time to burn bridges. Years down the road, you never know who will be interviewing you for that job you’re dying for or who will be hired to sit in the cube next to you.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider before your last day, whether you are leaving by choice or not.
- Do use professionalism and courtesy in announcing your intention to leave the company. Advise your direct supervisor first. Then tell colleagues and department staff.
- Do not do it at the last minute. Give your employer advance notice so there is enough time to arrange for your successor. Generally, acceptable notice is two to four weeks. Work with your current and future employers to set a time frame that works for both them and you.
- Do write a professional letter of resignation. No need for lengthy explanations, you can simply state that you are resigning from your position to pursue other interests or opportunities. Whether you loved or hated your job or your supervisor, the outcome should be the same: a brief, respectful letter stating your intention to leave.
- Don’t badmouth the company. Once others know you are leaving, naysayers may seek you out to share their feelings of discontent. If you want to leave on good terms, don’t be associated with disgruntled or unhappy employees.
- Do finish the job. Don’t leave projects half-completed. Provide a list of projects and review what can or needs to be completed before you depart. Do not disappear. Avoid short-timer’s attitude. Stay an active and contributing member of your team during your last days at work. Work hard and do your best to leave a good and lasting impression.
- Don’t leave your desk or office in disarray. Take a day to organize your materials for your successor. Leave the company assets behind. Unless you brought something from home or paid for that stapler with your own money, it should stay on your desk
- Do offer to train your replacement if time permits. If you leave before that person comes on board, make yourself available to answer questions in person or over the phone.
- Don’t send boastful or sobbing farewell e-mails. If you choose to use e-mail to notify colleagues that you are leaving, provide your contact information — these people are part of your network.
- Do use your exit interview time wisely. Regardless of what you are told, this is not the time to trash your boss or your boss’s boss. If you haven’t discussed your concerns about a co-worker in the past, don’t use this as an opportunity to reveal them for the first time. If you have voiced concern, however, this is the time to reiterate it professionally.
- Remember: Leaving with class and grace will never come back to haunt you; exiting on a sour note can.
Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.