The 10 Things You Need to Do If You Want to Quit Your Job

Recent data shows that Americans stay at a single job for an average of 4.6 years. If a career lasts 40 years, that means we're destined for roughly 10 job changes, so you better get good at saying goodbye.

Leaving with grace is imperative to build your network, and you never know how your path will cross with former colleagues, because again, everyone's constantly shifting around!

Here are 10 things you should do to leave a job on a high note.

During the Job Search

The key here, obviously, is to keep your job search activities on the down low. You may not find your next position for months. Meanwhile, you owe it to your current employer (and yourself!), to maintain your professionalism and productivity throughout.

1. Do Your Research

Be diligent about researching potential jobs and companies, so you don't waste time applying for jobs that won't work for you in the long run. You will only have limited time to apply and interview since you have a job already, so you don't want to waste it on companies and roles that you could have ruled out with a bit of research.

2. Get Out Your Personal Calendar

Whenever possible, schedule your job search time on your personal calendar to maintain focus, much less get caught on search sites like Indeed and The Ladders. You never know how your computer is being monitored by your company or who may drop by your desk unexpectedly. Plus, you're being paid by your current employer to do your work, not find a new job. Job search on your time, not theirs. When you begin to book interviews, use vacation time or personal days if possible.

3. Tap Your Networks With Care

Networking is great, but be cautious about using any methods that might alert your current employer to your search.

  • Checking the box on LinkedIn that you're interested in learning about new opportunities is safe because it's ambiguous, below the fold on your profile, and every profile I've ever seen has it checked.
  • Posting on Twitter that you're looking for a new job is much too conspicuous because Twitter is a very public platform.
  • Posting on Facebook could be safe provided that none of your current colleagues are your friends and you post only to friends, not to the general public.

In short, exercise caution about tapping networks and when you do so make sure to only use connections whom you truly trust to keep your confidence.

4. Grab Your Portfolio Now

Before you even have an offer, decide which pieces of your portfolio you can and want to take with you when you leave. Capture them either electronically or in hard copy now before the pressure's on to do so. Also, once you give notice, some companies may lock you out of your accounts and prevent access to what you've created. And if you've signed an NDA or go work for a competitor, you may be required to leave your current employer as soon as you give notice.

5. Read Your Employee Handbook

Know your HR policies. Do you have to give a minimum amount of notice? Did you sign an NDA on non-compete agreement? Are there any restrictions on stock options or awards you've received? This is all valuable and necessary data to have as you look for new opportunities.

Accepting an Offer and Giving Notice

Your search went well and you've landed an offer for the new gig. What's next?

1. Respond to the Offer

Thank the prospective employer for the offer and ask any questions you may have including how long you have to make a decision and a potential start date.

Don't accept on the spot: You may want to consider negotiating with the employer on salary, vacation time, benefits, start date, etc., and you'll want to get the complete offer in writing. The last thing you want is to have an offer rescinded or have it turn out to be different than what was promised. Asking an employer to put an offer in writing eliminates a good deal of that risk. You should also accept in writing and have an agreed upon start date before putting together your resignation letter.

2. Resign Gracefully

Once you decide to accept the new job, give notice to your current supervisor verbally and in writing, preferably at the same time. Keep the letter simple. Give them an end date and thank them for the opportunity you've had in your current role.

Verbally, you can provide a bit more detail. When you speak to your supervisor, be honest about where you're going and why. But leave the emotion out of it and stick to the facts. It may be tempting to point out every unpleasant aspect of your current job, particularly if you've been unhappy for a while and have raised these issues with your supervisor only to have them fall on deaf ears. Instead, highlight why this new role at a new company is a good fit for you. And you never know; perhaps now that you've given notice your existing employer will make you a counteroffer that's worth your consideration.

3. Tell Your Team

Now that you've talked to your supervisor, it's time to tell your team. Make sure you stick to the same reasoning that you gave your supervisor. Don't go into intense detail with colleagues about the negative aspects of your job that drove you out the door. You don't want your departure to take on any scandalous aspects, nor do you want that information to get back to your supervisor. Save the gossip and emotion for your friends at happy hour!

4. Don't Throw In the Towel

Prior to your departure, don't slack off on the job. Continue to uphold your responsibility, work on a transition plan with your supervisor, and leave detailed notes on your current projects for the team members who will take over your projects. No sabotage!

5. Connect With Colleagues

Connecting with your colleagues through in-person meetings and online on sites such as LinkedIn is as critical as capturing your portfolio items. These connections, when forged authentically, will serve you well down the line in your personal and professional life. I've made some of the best friends of my life through my jobs. When I left my last corporate job prior to starting my own business, I was shocked by how inspired my colleagues were by my choice. It was the best ending I could have asked for and they have continued to be an incredible part of my life!

The most important things to focus on when you leave a job are integrity, integrity, and integrity. Maintain your dignity during the search process and in the way you transition out of your job. It will pay off many times over. People may not remember everything you did while they worked with you, but they will always remember how you left.

How have you gracefully left one job for another? Please share your experience in comments!

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