You may have dreamed about this day for a long time: the day you can inform your boss that you have found a better job and are leaving your current one. You may be rejoicing inside, but it pays to be cautious as you navigate your departure. Now is not the time for gloating, seeking revenge or otherwise doing anything to contradict your image as a consummate professional. It pays to leave a job graciously and with class, for you never know when your path may once again cross the company you are leaving – or, perhaps more likely, the people in it.
Consult your employment contract, if you have one, to ensure that you abide by the terms expressed therein. Many contracts stipulate how much notice the company requires before you may technically leave a position.
Be prepared to write a resignation letter, as many companies require this formality for their personnel files.
Choose a time of day to speak to your boss when she is least likely to be frazzled or distracted. Depending on the nature of your work and the rhythms of your company, the best time might be first thing in the morning or at the very end of the day. The right backdrop will help set a proper tone for your meeting.
Select a location for your meeting that is free of distractions, including ringing phones and especially intrusive co-workers. If privacy is lacking at your company, ask your boss to join you for a sandwich at a nearby deli for lunch or for a cup of coffee after work so that you have her undivided attention.
Prepare to give appropriate notice before leaving your job -- the norm being two weeks. Anything less than this standard business courtesy may be construed as a punishing move on your part, even if this isn’t your intention.
Frame your opening based on what you think your boss may know about your job search. If you believe she will be completely surprised, try to soften your news bulletin. You might say, for example, “At the risk of beating around the bush, I must tell you that I have found another job and will be leaving (name of your company) on (date of resignation).”
Provide some information about the name of the company you will be joining and your new title, but resist the urge to gloat. If your boss asks if your new job is a “better job,” you may wish to say that it is a “better fit” for your talents and interests.
Follow your boss’s lead insofar as providing more information about your new job. Some curiosity is natural, but it’s rarely a good idea to indulge it to the point of divulging your new salary or benefits. Remember that any information you share could make its way through the company grapevine.
Steer the conversation to an upbeat, positive tone by expressing your appreciation for the skills you have honed, the challenges you learned from or the colleagues who inspired you in your current job. Thank your boss for the confidence she placed in you and her role in your professional development.
Offer to train your replacement or undertake any other tasks that will make your departure as stress-free as possible. You may wish to be a resource for your successor even after you leave, but be sure to put some parameters on your involvement so that your efforts do not interfere with your new job.
Express your desire to keep in touch with your boss after you leave your job. Don’t make false promises, especially if your relationship with your boss has been strained. But to end this encounter on a classy note, you might wish to say that you hope to keep in touch via your shared professional networks or mutual business contacts. Imagine a burning bridge – and your need to traverse it in the future – and choose your closing comments appropriately.
- Consult your employment contract, if you have one, to ensure that you abide by the terms expressed therein. Many contracts stipulate how much notice the company requires before you may technically leave a position.
- Be prepared to write a resignation letter, as many companies require this formality for their personnel files.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.