4 Ways To Leave Your Job Gracefully
“I just need to know how to do it” said a new client. She was referring to how to quit her job. I’ve blogged about this in the past but her request, and what we discussed got me thinking – maybe you, too, are wondering about how to part ways with your employer.

If you’re just embarking on a job search, my advice can be summed up in two words. Horse. Cart. Remember – they go in that order. Don’t worry about how you’re going to quit your job — just land a new one first.

Getting so caught up in having to have the whole plan in place before starting, well, you know how I feel about it. It’s wasted energy because, chances are, when you’re ready to quit your job, your specific situation will determine the details. You’re smart. You’re resourceful. You’ll use good judgment.

But if you want a few guidelines, here are my top four:

1. Don’t Overshare During the Exit Interview

Don’t “share all” during an exit interview – however tempting it may be to cleanse your soul and share what you really think about the organization and your soon-to-be former boss, don’t do it.

Unless you’re leaving a work situation where you’ve had on-going conversations (and it’s been properly documented by HR) to resolve a specific issue or problem, and that’s the reason you’re now departing ways – airing all your grievances at this point will only reflect badly on you (not your boss, not the company, and certainly not your lazy/irrational coworker.)

Don’t risk having this negativity attached to your professional reputation – there isn’t anything you can do to control what is said after you leave, so don’t give them any departing material.

2. Don’t Gloat About Your New Opportunity

Less is more. Even when you’re leaving your current job and taking a fantastic new opportunity, don’t gloat about it. Nor should you feel the need to over-explain why you’re leaving. Its human nature to want to feel understood, and this often leads to over-explaining or providing too many details – especially if you’re leaving a less-than-ideal situation.

If you try to make yourself understood – say, you’re leaving a crazy boss who you just can’t deal with any longer – resist. Give as few details as possible. Otherwise you’ll end up sounding like a politician who can’t keep his/her story straight. Keep it short and sweet.

Saying good-bye may be bittersweet, but it does mean you’re doing something right. Moving along, taking control of your career and getting outside of your comfort zone.

3. Do Reach Out Personally

Personally reach out to co-workers and share a positive experience you’ve had with them. The more specific, the better. Instead of thanking them for being supportive of you over the years, give them a specific example which stands out to you. Not only will they appreciate the genuine acknowledgement, but it provides a positive point of connection you can build on after you leave. Please don’t do this unless you can be authentic – now isn’t the time to be chummy to people you’ve not had much interaction with while working with them.

4. Build Those LinkedIn Connections Before Leaving

Use LinkedIn to connect with coworkers BEFORE you leave. Your personalized invite doesn’t need to mention that you’re leaving the organization, you can simply say that you’d like to be connected (come on, colleagues connect all the time on LinkedIn – I promise this won’t be seen as highly suspect behavior.) You might be surprised how many of your colleagues are conducting under-the-radar job searches and this will be an opportunity for them to expand their professional network too.

And congratulations. Saying good-bye may be bittersweet, but it does mean you’re doing something right. Moving along, taking control of your career and getting outside of your comfort zone. And that’s what this whole crazy career thing is about, isn’t it? Pushing yourself beyond what’s comfortable.