Exit Stage Left (With Dignity)
Several years ago, a co-worker of mine was laid off. She was allowed to clean out her desk—and she really cleaned it out. She took all her company files outside the building and threw them in a dumpster.
Word got around; it took her a long time to find another job.
Inevitably, we all leave our jobs. Sometimes the transition is voluntary; sometimes we’re pushed out the door. Whatever the cause, there’s a right way and a wrong way to leave. Here are a few tips on making a graceful exit:
1. Don’t tell your bosses “what you really think of them.” You may need them later in ways you can’t predict. I know a salesperson who left his company in acrimonious fashion. Years later he applied for a great job at another firm—but his old boss was there, remembered the harsh words, and blocked the hire.
2. Don’t bad-mouth your previous employer—not to friends, not to business associates, and especially not to potential new employers. You won’t look good, and it may cause a hiring manager to wonder what you’d say about them.
3. Make a list of the things you learned at your old job, and put an uplifting spin on each one. Perhaps your manager was a tyrant—but you learned how to complete a project properly under pressure. When asked, skip the “tyrant” part and focus on the skill you developed.
If you can bring yourself to do it, send a note or an email to your old boss thanking them for the opportunity and wishing them well. It’ll be remembered, and might pay dividends down the road.
Finally, if you’re unhappy in your current situation, there are options. It’s up to you to find them. Remember the words of Jim Rohn, a business philosopher and motivational speaker: “If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.”