Five Ways to Make  Graceful Job Exit

Jolene Pilgrim
25 Sep 2017

Working for one company your entire professional career is unheard of in today’s modern job market.  In fact, much career advice is dedicated to the wisdom and benefit in making those upward moves in order to advance out of stale titles, responsibility or other work issues.  Given that movement is to be expected, laterals and exiting employees should give some thought about how to make the transition out as smooth as possible.  While performing the office version of a “mic drop” might be tempting, there are better ways to keep good working relations and maintain those valuable industry networking contacts both during and after your departure.

Two Weeks Notice

After snagging that job offer with a sexy new company or firm, many candidates may be tempted to pack their things and jump right into the greener career grass.  Doing so, however, is unwise to both your current employer and your long-term reputation as a team player.  Employee turnover is one of the biggest expenses and causes of disruption of business continuity.  Respect the process and give the standard two weeks notice to ensure your current employer has no reason to wish you ill will and out the door sooner.

But Ask if They Need More Time

Furthermore, ask your current employer whether they may need more time to find a suitable replacement or to find someone to take over your current job responsibilities on a temporary basis.  This is especially important for positions with more advanced job titles or in companies where staffing is already short.  Bonus points for the fact that your new position will probably understand and appreciate your concern, increasing their perception of you as a team player.

Speak no Evil

Whatever your experiences with your prior employer may be, resist the urge t speak badly during the transition to your new company, or after.  Eliminating a moment worth of stress for the ability to vent a job you’re already exiting isn’t worth the potential damage to your reputation should word get around that you aren’t able to conduct yourself in a professional manner.  The fact that you sought new employment will speak volumes without you having to utter a word.

No Sticky Fingers

While at your present company you most likely put in your best efforts.  Maybe you provided innovative processes, drafted important documents or otherwise provided valuable data to your employer that will keep them in fine straits for years down the road.  None of these facts are reasons to believe that you’re entitled to take your work, documents or other materials with you when you make your exit.

When you are an employee the work you perform while on the job legally belongs to the person paying your wage or salary.  Depending on your employment contract, some material created outside of working hours may also not be yours for the taking.  Exercise caution before pocketing data, forms, templates or other materials that may be considered proprietary.  Not only could you find yourself on the end of a legal suit for theft of trade secrets, your new employer could potentially rescind your offer or fire you outright if you’re employment poses too great a liability.  

Keep in Touch

The final point to consider when it comes to making a smooth, peaceful and stress-free exit from your current employer is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to cutting ties with previous connections and coworkers.  Networking contacts are incredibly valuable in helping to grow your career.  Professional individuals who are peers in your field will understand the need to switch companies and will appreciate you keeping in touch as both a knowledge and networking resource.

General Advice – Don’t Burn Your Bridges

To sum up the advice for easy job transitioning, when exiting your current employer take care not to burn your bridges.  Regardless of professional field or practice area, your industry is likely smaller than you realize.  Being a difficult employee on your way out may affect your reputation and could potentially put a bad taste in the mouth of your new employer.  Maintain professionalism and vent and celebrate in private and you’ll set yourself up to come out on top of the career movement ladder.

Jolene Pilgrim