Are You at that Point? What is the Best Way to Quit a Job?
There is a reason it is called an employee or job “lifecycle.” It has a beginning and an end. While we usually talk about onboarding, let’s take some time to talk about offboarding yourself in a way that preserves relationships and opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, in 2016 the average employee tenure—or length of time at a job—declined from over four and a half years to just over four years. While this is an average, it offers an idea of about how often workers are on the move.
At BrightMove, we work with companies to provide recruiting software to retain and onboard the best candidates for your open position. Inevitably, the time arrives to move on. There are many reasons—and many ways—to leave a job. Some methods are better than others.
Heading for greener pastures? Tips on do’s and don’ts
As a hiring manager or recruiter, you know it is always better to look for a job when you have one. Your network is intact, you are probably working in your field, and you are a more viable hiring risk. Plus—while leaving a job on principle sounds courageous, it won’t pay the bills. Think about creating a soft landing by finding your next job before you contemplate how to quit your current one.
Unless you have an employment contract or another arrangement, you work at-will. You can leave a job, or your employer can terminate your position, at will. It is standard operating procedure to offer at least two weeks of notice before your last day. With that, here are a few of ways you do not want to quit:
- Disappear: Even if you are conflict avoidant, it is not a good idea to decide you are done and quit going to work. Employers are responsible for employment taxes, insurance, and have other regulatory concerns. If you decide to take a permanent road-trip, it can cause unneeded confusion on both sides.
- 15-minutes of fame: The internet offers some great examples of the ingenuity, creativity, and frustration expressed by employees who post a video to let their employers know they are leaving. While going out by going viral sounds like fun, it could easily cost you job opportunities down the road. At some point, you might feel it is worth it but future employers may think twice about hiring someone who exposed an employer to ridicule or reputational damage. It’s your choice.
- Full disclosure: Leaving notes, circulating emails, or posting on social media are all methods of leaving a job by making a private transaction public. Like aiming for 15-minutes of fame, public quitting offers future evidence of what could be considered poor communications and decision making. If you go that route, be prepared to spend your future job-hunting career trying to explain.
Despite the satisfaction of telling off an employer or co-worker, or dashing out a door, leaving a job is an important transition. Even if you are leaving because you cannot stand one more minute in that workplace, you can exit gracefully to ensure that your time with that employer counts for you and not against you.
Hopefully, you are not leaving your current job because you despise the place. That is a hard way for anyone to work or live. When you have other employment or are making a transition that means it is time to quit, consider these tips:
- Give plenty of notice: Depending on your position with the company, consider giving more than two-weeks notice. If you are a supervisor, manager, or have significant responsibility, give your employer the opportunity to handle the transition as easily as possible. At certain levels, six months notice is a better idea. Offer to assist training a replacement and be sure your job is ready to hand-off, without dangling projects that could be confusing. Time your departure to suit you—and your employer—if it works for you.
- Let your network know: With a planned, professional departure, you can ensure your network is notified that you are moving to a different position, or pursuing other ventures. There is always a pause when a business contact is told or receives an email saying, “Oh, he does not work here anymore.” Take the effort to be sure important contacts you made during your employment know where you are going. Contacts, business associates, and industry group connections are all mobile assets—be sure to take yours with you when you quit.
- Exit gracefully: Most people have several employers in their working career. Handling each exit with diplomacy, offering assistance, and thanking your employer for the opportunity is the best you can do to ensure you receive a good reference down the line. Clean out your workspace, follow digital document destruction policies, and ensure your passwords are disabled to avoid liability.
Offboarding without rancor is a good way to get the best start on your next employment opportunity. For HR, helping employees exit gracefully is the first step to welcoming them back in the door in the event they decide to give your company another try.