While you may fantasize about the day you get to give your notice and quit your job, if you’re like most people I know, actually quitting your job can feel very stressful. You’re making a big change, leaving a familiar environment and you’ll probably have to have at least one difficult conversation where you actually let your boss know that you’re leaving.
When it’s time to quit your job, it’s not uncommon that it feels both exhilarating and stressful.
Since working with people one on one and watching a lot of my clients eventually leave a job, I have come to realize that no matter the situation, quitting is hard for everyone.
And the fear around quitting – whether it’s fear of actually giving your notice or trying a new opportunity – can really hold you back in your job search.
You should try to embrace the transition process, even if it brings up a lot of emotions and requires some potentially challenging conversations. I’ve put together some principles for quitting gracefully and bravely when it’s your time to go.
Here’s how to quit your job without burning bridges.
When it’s time to quit your job, be honest – at least with yourself.
If a job isn’t working out, it’s okay to leave. It’s okay to say, “This isn’t what I was hoping for,” even if it’s just to yourself at first.
(If you are a still job seeking, but know that you’ll be anxious about quitting when it’s time, I wrote a post just for you over here.)
Assuming you haven’t signed a long term contract, you’re free to leave a job that isn’t a good fit. If you haven’t been at your job for very long, you might want to check out this post on how I left a job after only nine months. I was pretty honest the whole time that the job was not what I was hoping for.
You might not want to be that bold or direct and that’s fine. But you don’t have to pretend everything is working out if it’s not right. Sharing your obstacles with friends and former colleagues can help you prepare to transition out of the job without waiting the requisite year.
Be prepared for push back.
When you’re ready to quit your job, your employer might make a counter offer. And while it’s very nice to feel wanted, you might find yourself unprepared for this potentially tricky situation.
Do yourself a favor and consider the possibilities ahead of time.
Are there conditions under which you would like to stay in your current position?
If not, consider sharing with your supervisor what’s exciting about this new opportunity and then moving quickly into a conversation about how the two of you can work collaboratively to develop a plan for your transition.
It’s okay for you to want to move on. Express your gratitude for the praise and then get to work on your transition plan.
When you’re ready to quit your job, you’ll want to minimize the disruption of your departure for your colleagues.
What can you do to make the transition easy for your co-workers?
Do you know someone who might be a great fit to replace you? Can you train a replacement?
Let your supervisor know what you can do and what you cannot do. Your soon-to-be former colleagues will definitely appreciate your efforts to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved.
Be clear about your boundaries moving forward.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Be clear about what you are ready and willing to do to help.
And don’t be afraid to say no.
Be a good boss and mentor.
Eventually, someone is going to come to you and say, “Thanks for everything but I’m moving on.”
Don’t forget how scary it can be to be that person. When you are finally on the receiving end of someone’s resignation letter, remain positive, supportive and professional. If possible, set up an exit interview and focus on developing a transition plan.