how to leave a job - woman leaving a buildingThere is a right way and a wrong way to quit your job. Making a misstep when you leave a company can put a bad mark on your career.

“It matters, because bad behavior will follow you. An employee may think that quitting in a big, boisterous way means that they get the last word, but that’s not the case,” explains Lauren Milligan, resume expert/job search coach with ResuMAYDAY. com. “Not being able to use that employer as a reference is giving that employer the last word. Former employees talking about you behind your back gives them the last word. People dropping out of your network, or not vouching for you on LinkedIn or other social networks is giving them the last word.”

Always make a good impression when leaving. “The people you work with and for will only remember your last performances and behaviors. For this reason you need to be at your best,” says global management consultant Kathleen Brush, Ph.D. “Even if you are leaving because of a bad boss, when you resign be gracious and be sure to ask what you can do to help with any transition. Even if he says nothing, you have other people who you need to leave a good memory with.”

Make sure not to become unraveled. “Leaving a company can be a stressful and unnerving time. But it is at times like these that it are especially important to keep your wits about you. Do not yell at anyone, do not destroy company property, do not disparage the organization to the media or to the clients. What you do reflects on you,” says etiquette consultant and human resources consultant Jodi R. R. Smith, president, Mannersmith.

How Not To Quit

    •    Act like a child. “One of the worse ways to quit is throwing a tantrum and quitting in front of other employees or customers,” says Milligan.
    •    Act a fool. No matter how difficult your relationship was with your boss, don’t “be a clown to your boss when you resign,” says Brush.
    •    Going viral. “Don’t create a ‘I Quit!’ video and post it online,” adds Milligan.
    •    Quit via social media. “It’s a no-no to quit electronically by text, Facebook, Twitter,” says Milligan. And while we’re at it, don’t give notice on a voicemail either.
    •    Be secretive. Don’t just disappear. After informing your boss, tell your co-workers. “You shouldn’t leave your colleagues in the dark so they can’t handle your responsibilities,” says Brush.

How To Quit

    •    Have a sit-down. “Have a calm, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor,” suggests Milligan.
    •    Put it in writing. It may seem “old school”, but Milligan says “a resignation letter that is thoughtful and professional is best.” Be careful of what you write, however. “While it is tempting to include a manifesto of the company’s ills in your resignation letter, you are better served by keeping it simple,” adds  Smith. “A resignation letter needs only three pieces of information: 1. Your last day. 2. Contact address and phone number. 3. Your signature.”
    •    Pass on your knowledge. “Make an extra effort to train the person/people who will be assuming your responsibilities and create documentation for any tasks that are multi-step,” says Brush. And organize your files: paper and electronic.
    •    Make the most of your exit interview. “Many companies interview outgoing employees to gather information. Answer all questions judiciously. Some exit interviews are confidential, while others are not,” says Smith. “In addition, you want to be sure not to burn any bridges. ‘Boomerang employees’ are becoming more and more common.”