Five years or less means a lot of people leaving a lot of jobs. And it’s interesting to note that this statistic was from a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, prior to the late pandemic ‘Great Resignation’.
It is more than likely that you will change jobs at least once in your life and changing jobs can be extremely stressful, even when you know for certain you’re making the best decision for you and your family. Emotions can run high, especially if you leave a position where your work was impeded or you felt unappreciated.
Whatever your reason for leaving, always attempt to go out with grace, humility, and goodwill. In the moment, your initial (and hopefully fleeting) thought may be to unleash your built-up frustrations on those who have wronged you. But in the long run, burning bridges will ultimately have a negative effect on your career.
Here are a few ways to leave your current job while staying classy.
Maybe you’re forced to leave a job you love because you need something that pays more, or maybe you have no choice but to leave because it’s been absolute hell and if you stay, you’ll be driven to your breaking point.
It’s important to keep in mind that every experience, whether positive or negative (or somewhere in between), has the potential to be a teaching moment — and this deserves appreciation. The ability to reframe an experience as something that facilitated personal and/or professional growth will allow you to leave on a positive note and communicate in a productive way with your new employer and colleagues.
BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR “WHY”
If you have an exit interview or you are asked by colleagues, your boss or the board about why you are leaving, be ready with a solid, prepared statement. Your election to leave is undoubtedly the right decision for your interests and goals, but confusion and rumors are likely to fly if you don’t shed some light on your decision.
Whatever your reason for leaving, make sure you deliver a consistent “why” when asked in order to avoid conflict and confusion. There may be a MULTITUDE of reasons you want to leave, but find one universal statement that sums it up:
- “I am leaving because I needed a better work-life balance.”
- “I was presented with a better opportunity and room to grow.”
- “It was a better situation for my family.”
- “I simply needed a change.”
All of the above are acceptable answers. Alternatively, you are sure to run into trouble when you over-explain:
- “I am leaving because I felt like the team wasn’t listening to me and I am not getting paid what I asked.”
- “The coffee was terrible and there aren’t enough benefits to keep me here.”
- “Our boss is a micromanager . . .”
And if you feel the need to give feedback, save it for your exit interview (see next point) or let it lie. Remember – you are leaving anyway for greener pastures.
KEEP FEEDBACK CONSTRUCTIVE AND USEFUL
If you are asked to do a deeper dive into why you are leaving or what the company or management could have done better, keep your comments constructive. Again, you want to leave on a high note. I am not saying that you need to forgo honesty. For example, if you didn’t like the company culture and truly felt it could be repaired, offer useful suggestions on what could be changed and implemented rather than complaining.
Don’t fall into the “deep dive” trap and turn this into a therapy session of venting and over-sharing. Keep it high-level and offer useful suggestions (if you have them). If not, simply say it was no longer a good fit for you or that you need a change.
Leaving a job or career is sure to be difficult, but creating goodwill while leaving will serve you well in the long run. Don’t burn bridges and make a good last impression. Believe it or not, it is just as important as the first.