How to resign from a job and maintain professional relationships

If you’re moving on to another opportunity, consider these tips for quitting the right way.

Quitting a job isn't the shock it once was. Back when employees used to stay at the same job for decades, quitting was often seen as a big move, and potentially a sign of disloyalty. Today, things are different. Managers are used to seeing employees move on after a few years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employees who hold a college degree have a median tenure of five years.

If you're moving on to another opportunity, consider these tips for quitting the right way:

Give two weeks' notice

Traditionally, a resigning employee gives his or her employer a two-week notice before quitting. However, even in doing so, employees should be prepared to stop working on the day they give notice to their employer, as the employer has the right to terminate the professional relationship without notice.

Nevertheless, providing two weeks' notice is considered a professional courtesy, and some employers may formally require it. It gives management time to adjust resourcing, shift responsibilities to other employees and begin the process of sourcing another candidate. Giving your employer notice will also help you maintain a positive relationship with them, which may prove vital if you require professional references (or consider returning to the company) in the future. Save for truly exceptional circumstances, always make it a practice to give your employer advance notice ahead of leaving the company.

"With an increasingly mobile workforce, resignations are more frequent and the impressions you leave giving notice can be lasting - good or bad," remarks Charlie Cain, Managing Director of Beacon Hill's Associates Division. "Be professional, respectful and complimentary. Express gratitude and show appreciation at all times. You want to take valuable professional relationships with you throughout your career. Be mindful of this goal when you resign. Employers often remember how you left as much as what you accomplished when you were employed."

Maintain relationships with former coworkers and managers to gain useful references.

Approach your exit interview strategically

When leaving a position, you will likely take part in an exit interview. However, you should be careful about how you frame your thoughts in this vital last step before your departure. Oftentimes, exit interviews are conducted by a member of HR or management, who may be removed from your day-to-day responsibilities. As a result, any criticism you have, no matter how constructive or well-intentioned, may be lost in translation.

Depending on your relationship with your direct manager, the time to provide constructive feedback may be when you inform her of your resignation. Given her knowledge of your responsibilities, as well as her familiarity with your personality, your manager will be much more likely to take your feedback the way you want it to be perceived and implement it.

If you're leaving your current job because you're upset or angry and you don't think you can control your emotions, it may be better to refrain from opening up too much. You will be best-served by being complimentary and respectful during the exit interview, focusing on being appreciative for the opportunity. Sharing negative, emotionally-charged feedback, especially with someone lacking direct working experience with you, may close off any future references and professional relationships you've built.

Maintain contact

When you quit your job the right way, you won't be ostracized from your previous employer. Indeed, if your new job is in the same industry, there's a chance you'll run into former managers and coworkers at industry events. Furthermore, these people can serve as references as you continue to move forward along your career trajectory.

Before you leave the company, make sure you have everyone's contact information. Connect with coworkers on LinkedIn so you can stay up-to-date with their careers, too. You never know when you'll have the opportunity to be a resource to them, and vice-versa.

Fast Company recommended using social networks to say hello to former coworkers every once in a while to catch up. Likewise, you can use these platforms to publicly praise coworkers for their contributions on shared projects. For instance, if a former coworker helped you to gain a new skill, you could give them a shout-out on social media, thus boosting their own cache within their professional network. You never know when you'll need a reference and recommendation, and these habits can ensure you won't have to scramble to find one.

That said, you don't want to annoy your professional networks either. Consider scheduling communications to avoid overwhelming the people you are trying to connect with.

Moving on to the next phase of your career is exciting. If you're looking for a new opportunity, reach out to the expert recruiters at Beacon Hill Staffing Group today.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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