The day he ran into Max*, Phil had been feeling discouraged about having to start a job hunt all over again. But running into his old friend and coworker turned out to be just the shot in the arm he needed. Max, whom Phil hadn’t seen in twenty-five years, excitedly told him about his new job and encouraged Phil to apply there too. Phil had never even heard of the new company, but after researching it and liking what he saw, he put in his application. Within a short time, Phil got an interview and landed the job, coincidentally with an office right next to Max’s!
Like Phil, have you discovered that good relationships can recharge your career? When you find yourself unexpectedly at a crossroad and are unsure where to turn, perhaps an old college friend or former coworker can point you in the right direction–if you left the relationship in good condition and didn’t burn any bridges.
Imagine the same true story above, but with the caveat that Phil and Max had not parted on good terms. Max would most likely not have encouraged Phil to apply, and could even have exerted his influence to keep Phil from being hired. Just as good relationships can recharge your career, broken relationships can hinder it as well. This means that when you leave a job, you must be thoughtful about how to make your exit.
From the moment you interview to the time you exit, express your needs as they relate to your career. If you’ve been sharing your goals all along and your needs haven’t been getting met, giving your notice shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Whether you loved or hated the job, make your departure about growing your career, not the boss or job you hated. (If you haven’t seen our career scorecard, read this before making a career move.)
We recommend not giving notice until you have another job lined up AND you’ve passed your background and reference checks. Few things can make your current situation more awkward than giving notice, then getting rejected unexpectedly and having to ask for your old job back.
Before you give notice, recommends Monster, save up at least six months’ salary. With a healthy financial cushion, you’ll be able to search for a job that’s just the right fit rather than being tempted to take the first job that comes along. (Although it’s a candidate’s market and qualified candidates are in high demand, we still recommend lining up a job before you quit your current one.)
Yes, you could become a drama queen (or king!), but will that really help your career? Avoid career suicide and stay off social media, advises Thomas Heath of the Washington Post. How you conduct yourself once you give notice will affect whether you gain or lose respect from your peers, boss, and other leaders within the company, so choose to make a dignified exit.
Since you know your new employer (and even an employer on down the line) will be calling your old boss for a reference, tell the same story to everyone. Rather than focusing on what you disliked about your previous workplace, explain why the new opportunity excites you. Talk about what you hope to learn and gain from your new role.
Thank your coworkers and boss for the privilege of working with them. Heath encourages, “Just because you are leaving the company does not mean you are leaving your relationships behind. Make sure you thank your mentors and sponsors and craft a plan to stay in touch. You never know when or how your paths may cross in the future.” (If staying in touch feels difficult to you, read these networking tips for introverts.)
Do everything you can to make the transition easy for both your boss and your replacement. Complete your projects, leave instructions, and clean up any unfinished tasks. Do whatever you can to help bridge the gap. Remember, just as good relationships can recharge your career, broken relationships can hinder it. Work harder than ever up to the moment you leave. Who knows when you may need the goodwill of a former coworker or boss to open the door for your next career move?
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*Although this is a true story, no real names are used to protect anonymity.