When you voluntarily leave your job, it's likely because you've found a new one. So take a moment and savor your good fortune. But before you careen forward into your new life and new job, make sure you're looking backward a bit, taking some time to make the transition out of your old job as smooth as possible. You never know when the connections you're leaving behind can come back to benefit you.
Give plenty of notice. Two weeks is something of the standard in many workplaces, but if you're in a position with complicated tasks, you may need to provide more than the standard to allow your employer to find a suitable replacement. Give your notice in writing, and then talk to your boss in person in an attempt to maintain good relations.
Offer to train the new person, which is when giving plenty of notice really comes in handy. If you're willing to stay longer than two weeks, the chances are greater that your employer will find someone to fill your shoes, someone you can guide through the process of doing your old job.
Leave a detailed description of your duties, whether or not you're training the new girl. Make an hour-by-hour list of the activities you did for at least the last week of work. Also write down important contact information.
Wrap up the projects you've started as much as you possibly can. If you're a real go-getter, chances are you have a lot of things in the hopper and won't get them all done before your departure date. Still, do your best to finish those projects, or leave them in a state that someone can easily pick up where you left off.
Ask for an exit interview. These are standard in some offices, not so much in others. This is your chance to tell the managers candidly what you think worked and what didn't about your current position, giving them a chance to alter things the next time around. While it may be tempting to let all your opinions fly during the interview, avoid the urge to bad-mouth that annoying co-worker. Once you're gone, loyalties may shift and the gossip may come back to bite you.
Make yourself available for questions via email or phone after you leave. If you're really crucial to the organization, your employer is probably going to have some questions. Show goodwill and offer to answer a few calls or emails, even though you know you're not going to get paid for it. If you're really concerned about the time-is-money thing, offer to stay on and "moonlight" as a consultant for a short period of time, and negotiate a reasonable fee for your services.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.