How to Leave a Job on Good Terms

iStock_000008171849XSmallIf you have decided that it is time to move on from a job, you might not be too bothered about making sure that you leave on good terms. Even if you have been unhappy or do not get on well with your colleagues, resist the temptation to make it obvious. It may seem insignificant but how you behave when you leave a job can have more serious repercussions for the rest of your career. Not sure about the best way to go about quitting a job? Here are some tips.

Give As Much Notice As Possible

Don’t leave your big announcement until the very last minute – tell your boss as soon as you know that you will be leaving. A face-to-face meeting is always best, tempting though it may be to hide behind an email or phone call.

Try to come up with a reason for leaving that does not reflect negatively on yourself or the company. For example, you may explain that you want to develop your career if there is little or no scope for promotion with your current employer. However much you may dislike your job, don’t let on if that is the real reason that you are wanting out.

There may be a specific notice time that you need to give but if not, a minimum of two weeks is usually considered to be a suitable time frame. As well as being a common courtesy, giving as much notice as possible means that your employer has a better opportunity to start making contingency plans for your role.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

You might be leaving but unless you are going to work in another part of the country or abroad, there is still a possibility that you will come into contact with your co-workers further down the line. It can be a small world and you never know who they may be connected to. You don’t want to risk missing out further down the line because you burnt bridges and it got back to a new potential employer through these connections.

You may want to write a thank you note to your colleagues to say that you have really enjoyed working with them. Even if it is not strictly true, it creates a good impression.

There is also the all-important reference to consider. If you leave on bad terms, you run the risk of getting a reference from your boss that it is not as glowing as it could have been.

Don’t Leave Them In The Lurch

Before you actually leave, make sure that any projects you are working on are as close to finished as you can manage in the time frame. If nothing else, it is professional.

Soften The Blow

Your departure will probably cause some degree of disruption and extra work for colleagues before a replacement can be brought in. You can minimize this by making sure that loose ends are tied up as fully as possible, leaving a list of key projects that you would have tackled ready for your successor and perhaps even offering to train up your replacement if he or she is hired before you officially leave. You might not be too inclined to put this much effort in – after all, you’re leaving shortly and may not care about what happens after you go.

Summing Things Up

Even if you hate your job with a passion, it’s crucial not to leave on bad terms. This will create a very negative impression which may come back to haunt you. Be as professional and gracious as you can during your notice period. You don’t yet know how the future may pan out and there may be a chance that you want to return to the company in the future. If you burn too many bridges when you leave, this simply will not be an option for you.


How to Leave a Job on Good Terms — 14 Comments

  1. I was so sick of my job when I left, but I managed to give three weeks notice and leave on good terms. I’m so glad I did, even though I was totally over it at the time.

  2. You never know who you might meet or need later on in life. Sometimes just taking the high road is the best thing for you. Some times though no matter how professional you are things are not going to work out when it comes to you leaving. Especially if they really want or need you. I remember one company wanting me to give 2 months! The job offer would only extend 3 weeks so I gave them three weeks.

  3. If you’ve been working for quite awhile you know the value of not burning your bridges, especially if you had experienced transferring from one job to another, because you will need them for your work reference since most employers make it a point to check your references and how can you expect them to leave you some good words if you leave them in a lurch or in bad terms.

  4. I once had a technician working under me that was a bit of a hot head. He pulled a tantrum on a co-worker when they were working at a customer’s site and refused to do what he had been asked to do. He did not refuse because of the specific task. He refused because he was angry at our accounting department for a perceived late paycheck. I wrote this employee a letter of reprimand for his behavior while at a customer site. He blew up at me and walked away. A little later he entered my office and said he was quitting. I told him it was not in his best interest to leave that way. He stormed out the door.

    I went to HR and told them what had happened, and to mail the technician an exit check.

    A few weeks later, we hired a replacement technician and all was good. About a month later, the first technician called asking if he could have his old job back. I told him that had he come back the same day he so hastily quit, or perhaps even the next day, I would have considered him, but not after a month had gone by with no apology or any other word.

    Like others have said, don’t burn any bridges. And I will add, don’t be a hothead. You will only hurt yourself.

  5. This all sounds very reasonable and I would follow similar rules irrespective of whether I am completely hacked off with my employer or not. But at my university there was a case where someone left and sent an email to everyone saying ‘…I am leaving this sh*thole’. Bad behaviour, right? The same gyu was recruited four years later on double the salary, Universities are strage places….

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