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Leave Your Job With Class--7 Points

Dan's last day on the job is legendary at the office.  He and his boss had a heated—and very public—argument which ended when Dan threw a coffee mug across the room in his boss's direction.   After it shattered against the wall, he stormed out and never came back. The result?  After 12 years of great work, Dan is best remembered as the "Coffee Cup Hurler." 

Whether you quit or get let go, how you leave is an indicator of your class and professionalism.  

Before you quit
Don't quit in a fit of anger.  Make a rational decision to leave. Realize that by quitting, you may make yourself ineligible for unemployment benefits.  If you Don't have a job lined up, make sure that you have enough to get by.  It may well take several months to get reemployed.  

1)  Give proper notice 
Unless stated otherwise by contract, it is generally expected that you will give two weeks' notice. If the employer wants more than that, you can negotiate it, if you wish, but there's no obligation on your part.  You might help tie up loose ends evenings or on weekends. 

2) Don't leave a mess behind 
Before you leave, get your work organized and clearly laid out so that someone else can take over easily.  Dan's successor had a tough time trying to pick up the pieces.  The files were utter chaos, and Dan wasn't around to tell him what he'd been doing.  Dan didn't so much hurt the boss as he did his peers, and they resented it.  

Years ago, one of my former co-workers did a much worse thing when she was fired. She retaliated by dumping the contents of all the file folders into a big pile on the floor.  Her successor spent weeks bringing order to the mess.  You can be sure that no one had anything good to say about this woman. 

3) Resignation letter 
The proper way to quit is with a resignation letter.  Keep it short and sweet.  There is no need to go into a big story about why you're leaving.  Simply say that you are resigning your position as of your date of departure.  you're leaving to pursue other opportunities.  

4) Don't lash out 
Whether you're resigning or being terminated, it may be tempting to let the boss know that you think he/she is a nasty, obnoxious cretin.  Don't do it!  It's a small world, and you never know where you will run across the boss or others from your company again.  Your life will be much easier if you avoid unnecessarily creating enemies.  Plus, you may need a reference or cooperation later on. 

5)  Create good will
On the other hand, if you do have good feelings for the boss or others you've worked with, this is a great time to show (sincere) appreciation.  You might tell the boss how much you have enjoyed working for him/her, and what you learned from your time together. 

When I left one of my jobs, I took the time to reach out to several contractors I had worked with.  They were great people and very talented.  I wrote a letter to their boss with a separate paragraph about each, stating what I appreciated about them and their work—and made copies for my contractor buddies.  They LOVED it!  It made them look good to their boss and gave them a piece for their portfolios.

An added bonus--it created lots of positive feelings toward me.  I think it's worth the time just to make people feel good about themselves, even if there is no reward in it for you.  But just as the negative energy of lashing out can hurt you, the positive energy can help you.  

6) Get important information and contacts out of the office 
Be sure to get your contact lists, work samples, and other reference items you may want to have out of the office.  Email them to yourself, copy them, or put them on a flash drive.  Don't lose this important part of your work.  It's a good idea to do this if you think there is any chance you will be let go—and even if you Don't.  Be sure this is done before you give notice.  Some employers won't want you around after you say you're quitting.  You may not be able to go back and retrieve these things. 

7) Get your references 
Ask for references from your boss, customers, and/or co-workers.  Be sure to find out from them the best way for employers to reach them quickly:  e.g. best phone number, email, etc.  Time is of the essence when employers are checking references.  Ask them to post a reference on LinkedIn.  

How you leave can greatly influence how people feel about you.  Make sure you do it with class.



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