The average American can expect to hold a whole bunch of jobs over a lifetime, which means a lot of quitting old jobs and starting new ones. Even though it’s necessary for career advancement (and sometimes for your own sanity), breaking up with an employer is hard to do.
Every situation is unique, but you can use these five tips as guidelines to help ease your way.
In fact, start really early, even before you’ve thought about quitting. “It’s important to regularly assess whether your role and company is providing what you need in your career,” advises Denae Butte-Bluethmann, owner and chief career coach at Executive Career Group. “This starts in the interview process and should continue throughout your tenure as an employee.”
If you’ve been open and transparent about your needs and wants in the past, it’s a relatively easy conversation to break the news that you need to part ways to grow your career. In the best case scenario, your boss may even agree with you that a new role provides a great opportunity.
Anyone who has ever been dissatisfied with a job can relate to the desire to go out in a blaze of glory, a la Jerry Maguire: “Who’s coming with me?” But before you become the star of your own viral video, consider what you have to gain from making a more dignified exit.
Even if your job is horrible, “you are going to need a positive story to tell your next employer,” says Butte-Bluethmann. “Leaving dramatically may feel good in the moment, but it will come back to bite you.”
Nothing has the potential to make you miss your previously hated job like an inability to pay your bills. Having a sizeable nest egg will allow you to focus on finding a new position that fits you perfectly, rather than worrying about whether your parents will let you move back into their basement.
“Aim to have at least six months' worth of expenses in your fund to give you plenty of time to search for a new source of regular income,” advises Michael Solari, principal at Solari Financial Planning.
Select an official story
Quitting is a golden opportunity to practice your very best public relations skills. “You never know when someone will call your old boss for a reference, so it’s always best to be tactful,” warns Butte-Bluethmann.
Instead of making it about what you didn’t like at your old job, explain why you couldn’t resist your new opportunity. Nonthreatening reasons for quitting include exploring a new industry or role, or deciding to go freelance. If you’re leaving to further your career, be honest but delicate.
Facilitate a smooth transition
This step alone will cultivate goodwill from the manager and co-workers you’re leaving behind. When you tell your boss you are quitting, ask what you can do to make the transition process easier. Can you help hire or train your replacement? Can you take the time to finish a project that would be difficult to leave to someone else?
Work diligently from the time you give notice until your last day on the job, says Tom Bryan, managing partner at ISGF. “Do not slack off, do not stop caring. You never know when you might need a reference from this company and if you leave a bad taste in their mouth, it might not be a good reference.”