Developing Your Career


Moving on to Another Job? Five Tips for Making a Professional Exit

By James Greenway on August 14, 2014

Saying goodbye is a natural part of business relationships. Sometimes we leave a job for a new opportunity. Other times, we may be laid off due to a restructuring. Whether the separation is voluntary or involuntary, it’s important to handle the goodbye with professionalism. How you exit will leave an indelible impression—and it’s important to ensure it’s a good one.

Here are five suggestions that will make sure you’re not burning bridges.

  1. Give notice.  If leaving for a new opportunity, provide your current employer with at least two weeks’ notice in a brief resignation letter. Include the last day you’ll work and thank your employer for the opportunity to work with them.
  2. Prepare for a smooth hand off. Write a plan to ease the transition of your work, including a detailed update on the status of all ongoing projects, as well as information on where to find key documents.
  3. Stay positive. The resignation is not the place to dredge up past grievances or to vent to HR about your manager. It’s important to keep a positive relationship with all your former colleagues for referrals, references and networking.
  4. Build your network. At some point you may be working with some of your coworkers again or reaching out for networking, so gather their contact information, connect with them on LinkedIn and wish them the best (even if the exit is involuntary). Long explanations as to why you’ve decided to leave aren’t necessary.
  5. Don’t overshare. Don’t jump on your social media networks to express dissatisfaction about your former company, boss, etc.  Instead, notify your network of your changing employment status, what kind of position you’ve taken or are seeking, and keep the negativity in check.

It’s a small world, and even smaller in some industries or professions, so don’t let a final misstep tarnish your reputation. Take a long-term view and use your transition as another opportunity to strengthen your network.

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