Let me guess…
You want to quit your job but don’t want to burn any bridges?
Has a better opportunity come along?
Maybe you're really just sick and tired of being sick and tired and think a change of pace and a new environment will do you some good?
Before making a rash decision and quitting in some epic, meme-worthy fashion, you might want to slow your roll and consider how to turn this into a huge opportunity instead of a potentially career ruining black mark.
What if, someday, you look back and realize the grass WASN’T greener on the other side and, in fact, you REALLY want to go back to the place you couldn’t wait to extricate yourself from?
First things first...
They’re Going to Be Mad No Matter What!
If you want to quit your job gracefully, you’re definitely going to piss some people off.
Some of these people (boss, co-workers, clients who’ve come to trust and rely on you, etc) are going to feel abandoned.
Don't expect to leave a job and have everybody be super thrilled for you and your future prospects, ok?
Leverage those expectations because you’re dealing with humans.
People tend to get jealous when YOU’RE the one getting out of dodge and moving on to bigger and better things while they stay “stuck”.
The more powerless people feel in their dissatisfaction or the more reliant they are on you for their success the more upset they’ll be when you choose to leave.
OK, now that I’m done crapping in your Cheerios it’s time for 5 tips, tricks, and considerations to make when trying to quit your job gracefully.
#1 - Pick a Goal Date
The very first thing you need to do is create an exit plan, and the first step of creating that exit plan is to set a goal date.
Picking a specific goal date is important not just because you're choosing a date to leave your job and possibly start a new career, you’re also setting up a goal date for when you need to have all of your skills and requirements met.
I mean, you're developing this exit plan presumably because you want to leave your job which means you must have some vague idea of where you want to end up.
In order to get there, you need to create a plan.
But the goal date isn’t just the day you’ll be you leaving your job.
It's ALSO going to be the time by which you’ve gotten whatever education, mentors, and skills that you need in order to succeed in your next venture.
#2 - Create a Budget
The second thing you need to keep in mind is finances. And by finances I basically mean figuring out a budget.
Budgeting is super important because you've come to rely on that sweet, sweet paycheck.
You have bills to pay and other set expenses each and every month. So you need to make sure you're prepared for the immediate future and I’m not just talking about savings here.
You need to ensure you have the ability to either make more money soon or know you’ve paid your debts down enough that you won’t go bankrupt if you can’t find something in the immediate future.
Write down all your monthly expenses and make sure to leave a little wiggle room for all of those unexpected little things that come up when you can least afford it )like car problems, medical expenses, etc).
An ounce of prevention will help shield you from the unexpected.
It’ll also give you a psychological edge, because you won’t be forced into doing something you don’t want to do purely out of desperation.
#3 - CLEAN UP YOUR DESK AND HARD DRIVE
Another really important tip is to clean out your desk.
And by clean out your desk, I mean get rid of everything personal.
You don't want to be in a position where you give notice and then security comes down to immediately escort you out. A few weeks later a box arrives at your home and you realize you've lost the teddy bear your boyfriend gave you for Valentine's day 3 years ago.
If you’re fortunate enough to leave in a civil manner you don't want to have to lug a giant box out of the office with you. Especially, if you take public transportation.
Unless you REALLY need the workout...
Clearing off your desk ALSO means making sure you’ve remove all of your personal and professional information from your computer.
Don’t do anything silly or vindictive out of spite, obviously, because that might get you in serious trouble.
Even the best of us occasionally leave important personal documents in a dusty old desk drawer or have personal stuff like, pictures or emails, sent to our work address.
You don't want those to get shredded or deleted because then you’ll lose them FOREVER.
Once you're not at the company anymore you’ll lose ALL of that stuff.
#4 - REVIEW YOUR CORPORATE HANDBOOK
Before you even CONSIDER leaving your job, clearing your desk, or touching files, make sure to review your corporate handbook, documentation, or any contracts you’re legally obligated to uphold.
Almost every one of us has received a corporate handbook that we review thoroughly before signing.
One of the things you need to do when you're leaving is make sure you review everything that you’ve signed so you can make sure you're not about to do anything that violates those agreements.
Just because you leave doesn't necessarily mean you’re off the hook; and you do NOT want a nasty little surprise because you’re in breach of contract.
Heck, there may have been a non-compete clause which means that you can't work in the same industry for up to two years.
Just imagine the trouble you could get into if you weren’t aware of that and went to work for a competitor!
#5- GET RECOMMENDATIONS AND REFERRALS aka COLLECT YOUR PRAISE
Okay, so the last tip I have for you is to collect your praise.
Gather emails from all the people you’ve worked with through the entirety of your time with the company. Everyone who’s told you what a great job you were doing, how wonderful it was to work with you, etc will be an amazing resource if you need to prove how wonderful you are sometime down the road.
Any of the things you did which got you those bonuses and raises at each annual review are PURE GOLD.
Collect them all together like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter!
If possible, you want them to be time and date stamped. You want to have all of this information at your disposal at a moment’s notice.
You also want to speak with people you've working with, (any managers or co-workers), and see if you can get them to give you some kind of written praise.
If you’re freaking out about asking people, think about this: How many times have you asked somebody for a reference and they just point blank say “no”?
Well, human psychology is such that unless they absolutely hate you (in which case you likely wouldn't be asking them anyway) they’re usually more than happy to help you out because helping others tends to make us feel good about ourselves.
Obviously, you're not going to ask your boss if he'll write something nice about you on Linkedin, because that's kind of a really big red flat that something’s going on.
Anybody that specifically references your skills or credentials goes to the top of the pile.
And for references, make sure you ask them what the best contact number is after they confirm they’re willing to help you out.
I bet you’ll be surprised to find how many people are more than happy to talk about what a wonderful co-worker you are!
So these are my five steps for a great exit plan.
Hopefully, now you can exit gracefully and put yourself in a position where you’re not pissing off your co-workers, not burning bridges, and manage to protect your own assets.