You’ve found your dream job at long last, and you can’t wait to be free of your current workplace.
But before you burn those bridges, consider this: a former boss is a future referee.
“An employee’s conduct after deciding to resign from a role can say a great deal about their level of professionalism,” says Nicole Gorton, director of recruitment firm Robert Half Australia.
“Consequently, an employee who does not exit a company gracefully – such as failing to perform duties or speaking negatively about the manager – might be perceived as less attractive to future employers compared to other candidates who handle their decisions to leave with dignity and respect.”
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The way workers give notice and handle their last working days can actually make a massive impact on their future career prospects, according to Gorton.
“While an unprofessional attitude towards quitting could burn bridges with potential future referees, a negative reputation could also quickly spread among professional networks.”
So there’s a wrong way and a right way to quit.
According to Gorton, here are seven ways to avoid a messy break-up with your old workplace and your soon-to-be ex-boss, and to instead resign with courtesy and respect:
1. Give enough notice
It’s rare, but some employees have been known to quit immediately with no notice – but it’s highly unprofessional, Gorton said.
“Working according to a notice period or even offering to stay longer will give employers plenty of time to make alternative plans, shift workloads and find a replacement,” she said.
2. Let the boss know first
It might be tempting to let close colleagues know when you’ve landed a new job, but it’s more courteous and respectful to first submit your resignation letter to your boss, Gorton said.
“An employee’s resignation will have the biggest impact on bosses who must ensure productivity is maintained and a replacement is quickly found.”
3. Avoid dramatic displays
Some might want to make their resignation known through spectacular and even celebratory displays, but this should be avoided, for the sake of the future.
“Such actions will only lead to animosity among bosses and other staff whom you might encounter in the future.”
4. Hold off on the negativity
It’s no surprise that people leave jobs because of bad bosses or company culture, but it doesn’t mean you should start expressing those views liberally.
“Views and opinions will be most appreciated when they’re expressed in a constructive and respectful manner and when invited,” Gorton said.
“Emotive and unprompted comments which simply espouse negativity will only lead to burned bridges.”
5. Be cooperative
It’s all too tempting to start slacking off once you’ve got a new gig in the pipeline, but tying up loose ends can help you end your time at the company on a high note, Gorton said.
“This could include ensuring assignments are completed before departure, resisting the urge to ‘slack off’, helping to recruit and train a replacement, facilitating a handover and organising a farewell among colleagues.”
6. Don’t cut ties
Your former colleagues are valuable contacts to have in the future, so don’t burn those bridges.
“Bolster your professional network by seeking contact details and connecting with people on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch or even seek or offer future career advice.”
7. Make a clean break
Don’t leave colleagues high and dry by leaving a mess in your wake – do as much as you can to make that transition process as easy as possible.
“Dot the i’s and cross the t’s by leaving a clean desk, ensuring email autoreplies are set, all equipment is returned, and all relevant stakeholders and colleagues have been notified of your departure,” said Gorton.
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