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Whether you’re unhappy in your workplace or just feel it’s time to move on, handing in your notice is something most of us have had to do – and something few of us enjoy.

However, no matter how unhappy you are, how mean your boss is, or how much you’d love to leave behind an administrative mess or storm out in anger, burning your bridges can be catastrophic for your career, especially if you’re hoping to continue working in the same industry moving forward.

Leaving a company gracefully and professionally will not only prevent any nasty rumours or allegations flying around, it’s also far better for your own mental health and wellbeing. Why go for the stressful and awkward option when taking the high road can ensure you a smooth and anxiety-free exit?

So delete that angry resignation email and check out our top tips for exiting a company with grace.

  1. Be sure you want to go – Do you actually want to leave your job or are you threatening to quit in order to gain something? Only begin the official resignation process if you’re completely sure you want to go, otherwise you risk making things complicated and messy for yourself. Even then, be prepared for your boss to ask you to stay and consider your response to any counter-offers.
  2. Give plenty of notice – No matter how politely or amicably you resign, leaving your company in the lurch is still not going to go down well. Two weeks’ notice might be the standard but think about timing your exit in a way that isn’t going to be detrimental to your colleagues. They’ll thank you for it and your reputation will get a boost as a result.
  3. Keep it formal – If you work remotely or freelance, a phone call or email may be the only way you can resign but – where possible – a meeting followed by a formal resignation letter is the best way to be completely professional and clear about your intentions. Avoid writing in anger and keep your letter positive, thanking your employer (even if you feel you have nothing to thank them for!). Be very clear about when you will be leaving and detail how you will assist the company with the transition. Don’t feel that it’s necessary to state why you are leaving unless you feel you can put a positive spin on your reasons (e.g. leaving to study or to focus on your family).
  4. Prepare to leave – Once a resignation has been issued, the actual leaving process can be quite quick, especially if you work in an industry where clients or high-value information can be valuable to other employers. You don’t need to strip down your working space completely but tidying up your computer is an absolute must. Make sure you save any relevant emails, files or contacts you need so you don’t lose them in case of a rushed exit.
  5. Make yourself useful before you go – Leaving a mess behind for your replacement or mentally checking out during your notice period are both surefire ways to leave your boss and colleagues with a bitter taste in their mouths after your departure. Instead, make sure to tie up any loose ends or complete any projects you’ve been working on. Offer to interview replacements and leave them useful instructions on picking up your mantle. The more helpful you are, the less likely your exit will be resented, and the more likely you’ll end up with positive recommendations and references.
  6. Say goodbye properly – Even if you hate your boss or your team, a formal and polite face-to-face farewell will make you the bigger person in any situation and will avoid making your leaving day too awkward or stressful. Thank everyone you’ve worked with and take time for private goodbyes or leaving gifts. Even the worst working relationships can end politely, and having a professional attitude will help you move on to pastures new with no residual anxiety or bad feeling.

If you are looking for your next employment opportunity and need professional advice on changing jobs, please contact us today.