When I resigned from a large consulting company after 3 years of working as a consultant, I sent out my farewell email at the end of the week. The next day, the CEO sent it out to the entire US Consulting Practice. (A lot of people).
I wasn’t a Director, Partner, Senior Manager or even a Manager. I was a Senior Consultant. I didn’t save the company millions of dollars by inventing a new methodology or product. I wasn’t given any top performance awards or recognized as a global leader within a company.
I can only guess it was because he saw something noteworthy of sharing. In short: I loved working there and it showed in my e-mail.
If you’re quitting, here is exactly what you need to do to leave on a good note:
STEP 1: Do not, under any condition, mention to anyone that you are thinking of quitting or looking for a new job.
Want to mess things up? This is how you mess things up.
When you’re ready to quit, quit.
When you’re thinking about quitting, shut your mouth. Tell your family, closest of closest friends, people that it’s only necessary to tell– and that’s about it.
Rumors start and move quickly and you don’t want to be that employee who is still working at the company but thinking about leaving. It will start a lot of awkward conversations.
STEP 2: Shut your mouth–Tell only 1 person and let them handle the communication of your exit.
Tell your direct report or a senior colleague that you have decided to leave the company. Do not start telling everyone, until you get the all-clear to do so. This is the best way to tell your boss that you’re quitting.
What do you tell your coworkers about the fact that you’re quitting? You say that you found a better opportunity elsewhere that you couldn’t refuse. This is your answer no matter how much you hate the company or your boss. This is all you need to say, nothing more nothing less.
The key here is to let them communicate to the group that you’re quitting. Let your superior handle the communication. They will trust you more for it.
And oh yeah, do this in person. If quitting in person is not an option, do it over the phone. There is no reason to tell your company you are quitting over email.
I don’t care if your company invented email. Don’t quit over email.
I don’t care if you’ve never spoken to your boss on the phone. Don’t quit over email.
STEP 3: Yes, a 2 weeks notice is still standard.
3 weeks notice is extra nice. 4 weeks notice is not recommended unless stated by your contract or an agreement you made with the firm.
Tell your manager your exact date that you’re leaving by.
STEP 4: Be appreciative for once.
I know whenever I quit a job, I’m usually the happiest person in the building. The fact that you know that you won’t have to be part of this shit hole again, and others are stuck in it, probably gives you a warm feeling inside.
It’s wrong, but it’s true.
So, do your best to not gloat about you quitting or what’s next for you. Do your job, and get out of there. Show appreciation by being respectful and holding all that glorious gloating inside until you get out of there.
When you’re about 300 feet away from the building, you are allowed to scream at the top of your lungs. You deserve it.
STEP 5: Lie during your exit interviews.
Be careful during exit interviews. Do not turn an exit interview into a consulting session. You will not turn around the company by telling the truth to HR about all the issues within the company. Nothing is changing there, that’s why you’re leaving–remember?
Do not be superman. Stick to the answer on #2. This is the real key to quitting your job gracefully. If you wanted to tell the truth, you could have done it before you left. You are halfway out the door at this point so just stick to your normal, vague, corporate answers. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything all.
STEP 6: Send the best resignation letter of your life, or send a boring one.
Your resignation letter is either extremely thankful, or a quick thank you and goodbye email. Nothing in between. Do not offer constructive criticism in your email, or offer suggestions on how to improve the company after you leave. You had your chance to improve it, so now is not the time.
The reason the CEO sent my email to the entire company was because I called out co-workers that I enjoyed working with and how they helped me advance my career. I really enjoyed working at this company, and my resignation letter showed it. When I left other firms, the email was 2-3 sentences at the most.
In summary, my motto is that you should leave quietly and never ever burn bridges. Do not use this opportunity to show everyone how smart you are because it will backfire.
Basically, don’t be this guy:
Although he did provide a lot of entertainment and laughs!
STEP 7: You aren’t done yet!
Ah, you thought you can just walk out the door and that’s it. Keep a strong relationship with your former co-workers. Invite them out to coffee a few months after you leave. Add them on LinkedIn. Keep your connections close.
This may be difficult while you’re looking for a job while working with them, and having to keep your search secret– but there’s no reason it should be after you’ve already left. Keep it professional and keep in touch about what you’re up to now and what your future statement is.
Whatever you do, do not use your flown-the-coop-newly-found-freedom to trash talk your old employer with your old coworker, no matter how strong the temptation. They chose to stay, you chose to leave and that’s all there is to it. You can still both want to see one another succeed, and be helpful connections for one another without muckraking the employer you had in common.
Also, there’s something graceful in letting things go and not re-hashing the wrongs you feel were committed against you at the company. Talk about your future, and about how you can help one another succeed in it.
PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.