Most recent graduates are concerned about finding a full-time job. Recently, though, I faced an entirely different concern with my first post-grad job.
Sitting in a cramped conference room with just my boss, I had to figure out a way to explain that my last day would be in 2 weeks. It felt uncomfortable and maybe even a little crazy. But I knew I had to do it—and do it with at least some grace.
Leaving a job is never easy, but when it’s time, it’s time. To avoid making the situation awkward (my specialty), I enlisted help from family, friends, mentors, and the good ol’ interwebs about how to leave a job the right way. Below are three big tips I put into practice. If you’re in a similar situation, hopefully these will help you to.
1. Give 2 Weeks; Nothing More, Nothing Less
When you leave a job, it’s standard practice to give your employer 2 weeks notice so you can finish up any projects before you’re out the door. That’s not 1 week, and it’s not 3 weeks: It is 2 weeks—and nothing more or less.
Why? Leave earlier and your parting gift to your coworkers will likely be a sour taste in their mouths. They’re the ones that will have to pick up the slack, and let’s be honest, nobody is happy with extra work. Plus, your boss will have to fill your position, and that’s not an easy feat to pull off in less than 2 weeks.
Maybe you want to stay longer to help out? Sure, you can do that. But keep in mind, things will likely get real awkward if you stick around for too long. The things you should be doing and should not be doing will become unclear, and your employer needs to learn to survive without you anyway. Sticking around won’t make that easier.
2. Make Them Understand
Ever go through a breakup and say that old cliché “it’s not you, it’s me”? I hope not, since last I checked, we weren’t in a soap opera or a young adult novel. However, you’re essentially going to have to get that sentiment across to your employer in a manner that’s not contrived.
I explained to my boss that while I enjoyed my time at the company very much, an opportunity to grow my skillset rapidly had presented itself. It wasn’t that I was unhappy or dissatisfied; I just felt I had to seize the moment and move on. Translation: It’s not you, it’s me.
I was very lucky—my manager entirely understood where I was coming from. If you don’t get such a supportive reaction from your boss, consider it a sign that maybe they weren’t somebody you’d be happy sticking with in the future anyway.
3. Leave No Bridge Burned
Maybe every fluid ounce of your eternal soul wants to tell your coworker how much you DID NOT appreciate having all of your snacks slowly siphoned out of the desk drawer that you said is “fair game,” not really meaning it, of course.
Do yourself a favor: don’t.
For all you know, that coworker may someday become the president of the United States. Would you want to be known as the person who called out the president on being a snack stealer? Probably not—it’s highly unlikely they’d ever hire you, let alone recommend you.
You never know when your paths may cross again with your former coworkers (or even former boss), so make sure that when you leave, your bridges back to them are all still in tact.
Have any other tips for leaving a job gracefully? Let us know in the comments!