How to Leave Your Tech Job Without Sinking Your Career
There are endless tips and strategies on how to start and succeed in a new IT role. But what happens when it’s time to leave your job? Maybe your current contract is coming to an end, and you want to make a graceful exit. Or perhaps you’ve been offered an exciting new position and want to keep the professional connections you’ve made. Worst case, you’re unhappy in your current role and leaving for greener pastures.
No matter the reason, the way you exit a job is as important as how you got it. The world is a small place, and you don’t want to encounter any burnt bridges in the future.
What steps can help ensure a successful exit? Consider these four points as you part ways.
1. Follow Exit Procedures
Be sure to confirm your organization’s exit procedures. While many companies require the standard two-weeks’ notice, some may specify a longer period or specific requirements around how or when notice is delivered.
This is especially important if your team is in the final stages of a project or software release. It’s important to let your new employer know early on that you might need to remain longer than the two weeks they are hoping. While they may have to wait a little bit longer for you, it demonstrates your commitment to getting the job done.
You’ll also want to review the terms of your current contract. Did you sign a confidentiality agreement or a non-compete clause? Make sure you know the rules surrounding your resignation to ensure your exit is as orderly as possible.
2. Notify Your Boss
You’ve made the decision to leave, now it’s time to notify your boss. For many, this can be the most nerve-racking part of the process. How will they react? Will they be upset? These few steps can help make sure the process goes smoothly.
First, plan a time to speak with your manager in person. Make sure to think about what you want to say so you don’t get flustered or thrown by their reaction. Next, don’t deliver your resignation by email unless absolutely necessary, and whatever you do, don’t resign in a voice or text message. Your boss might not be your best friend, but they still deserve your respect.
A face-to-face meeting is also the best time to submit your written letter of resignation. While this may feel like a formality, it’s an important part of the departure process. Typical notice will include a statement of resignation, notification of your last day, and a brief note of appreciation for the opportunity. If you’re comfortable training your replacement or assisting with the transition process, you can include this as well. Make sure both Human Resources and your supervisor receive a copy of the letter, so there’s no confusion surrounding the terms of your departure.
Last, avoid sharing the news of your resignation with friends or co-workers until you’ve notified your boss. You don’t want word to spread before you officially resign. This could lead to an awkward confrontation, or worse, permanent damage to your reputation and chances of getting a future recommendation.
3. Help with the Transition
The hard part is over. You’ve told your boss, human resources and co-workers you’re leaving. While you may feel relief and excitement, your colleagues may not. Until a new team member can be brought on, your boss and co-workers will likely have to manage the workload you leave behind.
Those final days can be tempting to slack off, but the last impression you leave can often overshadow any of your previous accomplishments. Make things as easy as possible during the transition process to help maintain good relationships in the future.
There’s no better way to depart on good terms than to leave detailed project status reports and process documentation for those who’ll fill your shoes. Ensure you don’t leave your co-workers in the dark by providing them all the information they need to fill the gap. Giving your co-workers the information and know-how they need will help you retain valuable connections and leave your colleagues with lasting positive impressions of your contributions.
4. Focus on the Future
It’s likely that you’ll be asked to complete an exit interview before you leave. While this may seem the perfect time to air your grievances, it’s best to take the high road and focus on the future.
If asked why you’re leaving or what the company could do to improve, reframe the question to focus on the positives. What parts of your job did you enjoy? What attracted you to your new position? These answers can help indirectly highlight the differences between your current role and future opportunity. If pressed for feedback, stick to broad areas when suggesting changes. And don’t forget, the exit interview is on the record, so don’t call out specific people with critical comments. You never know where your career might take you or when you’ll cross paths with a former co-worker or boss again.
Leaving your tech job and successfully navigating the departure process requires courage, skill, and tact. The decision to quit might also bring up a range of emotions from guilt and relief to fear and excitement. Remember that, ultimately, you need to do what’s best for you. While leaving any job is a delicate process, proper transitioning will help ensure a graceful exit and allow you to retain your professional relationships and reputation as a great employee throughout your career.
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