Ever wonder how long the average person stays at a job? According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's 4.4 years. That figure is getting shorter with every generation, which makes graceful exit strategies more important than ever.
Even if you have a short tenure at a job, if you are leaving voluntarily, it's worth your effort to avoid burning bridges. With so many people changing jobs more frequently, there's no predicting when you will encounter former bosses and coworkers again. To avoid having their last memory of you being the mess you left in your wake, keep these tips in mind when it's time to say goodbye:
Two-week notice. Two weeks is the acknowledged standard for quitting from a position, but you aren't required to give only two weeks. If leaving your current position will create a burden on the company, and you can afford the time, consider a longer separation to assist in the replacement process. When you give your notice, talk to your supervisor about what works best.
Train your replacement. Anyone who has become proficient at their job has developed some tips and tricks that improve efficiency. Offering to train your replacement helps make the transition as smooth as possible, and that reflects positively on you. (Plus, it makes a big difference to the new employee.)
Keep it simple. When it comes to the end, be direct and polite – tell them you've found a job that seems like a great opportunity and you want to explore it. It may be tempting to vent about everything that has annoyed you at the job, but you gain nothing from such a rant. If there are things the company could improve, you might mention your observations, but don't pout or gloat. You're the one leaving, so let them work out their own issues.
Keep it to yourself. Once you've given notice, don't trash-talk the company or your coworkers. Such behavior reflects more poorly on you ("the disgruntled back-stabber") than it does your former company. Bite your tongue, be glad you've moved on, and focus on your future.
Say "Thank you." On your last day, write your boss and co-workers brief notes or emails sharing what you enjoyed about working with them, and offer your email address to folks you want to stay in touch with. These connections can be crucial for future job seeking.
You may not be planning to list every former job on your resume, but wouldn't it be nice if you could? One-time coworkers could be future bosses, and former bosses could be future customers, so when it's time to go, leave like a professional – and hopefully, that's how you'll be remembered.
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Originally posted June 7th, 2012. The opinions of this blog are of the individual bloggers and don't represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Volt.