Top Tips on Leaving Well

You've made the decision to move on. Perhaps this move is voluntary and you're looking forward to your new job. Perhaps it isn't, having been the result of your company letting you go. Either way it's vital you leave well. You never know when you're going to meet old colleagues or bosses again, and if you're going freelance this is especially true. Your old company can be a valuable bread and butter client for you as you build your new business.

Here's your 12 step countdown to your final day.

1. First up, a word of warning. Don't hand in your resignation until you have a contract of employment with your new company. Applicants have been known to be knocked back at the offers stage and it's very embarrassing to have announced you have a new job and then not have one at all.

2. Think carefully about the timing of your resignation. Check the period of notice you have to give. (Of course the degree to which you have to work your notice depends on the degree to which your boss will enforce your contract of employment.)

3. Write your resignation letter. This should be short and to the point, expressing regret that you're resigning and saying when you expect your notice period to be up.

4. Ask for a meeting with your boss and have your resignation letter and what you're going to say rehearsed in advance. Don't be tempted to go off script or you may say things that you wish you hadn't. The only valid reason to resign is a career one i.e. you're ready to move up and on, to develop new skills and take on new challenges. (If later you are given an exit interview, again resist the temptation to bare all)

5. Don't expect your boss to be happy for you. You are causing your boss considerable disruption and the prospect of having to rehire will add to their commitments. See it as a bonus if they are happy for you. The best bosses will see it as their job to grow you and to let you go when you are ready. But most will silently grit their teeth.

6. Draw up a list of all the projects you're working on and those involved and talk through with your boss what you need to complete and how you'll handover. If you can, let your successor shadow you. Let colleagues and your boss know procedures and where to find things (online and offline)

7. Don't slack off. You don't want your lack of commitment to be a reason to give you a bad reference.

8. Thank all those people you've worked with for their hard work and support. If there was anyone you didn't get on with, resolve those issues so that when you leave, even if you're not best mates, you leave on neutral terms. Give people your personal email address so they can stay in touch. Invite everyone to your leaving do.

9. Take stock and reflect on what you learned during your time there. What were the highlights? Get feedback on what you've done well and what you might do differently. This serves two purposes. You'll remember the positives even if you had a tough time there, and you won't go onto repeat the mistakes you made in this job in your next one.

10. Remove personal files and emails from the PC and shared areas (this may not be possible with back up systems) Tidy your desk and take files home well before your last day.

11. Inform customers you're leaving and tell them who they need to contact. This shows courtesy. N.B. It's unethical to steal customers, but if you're going elsewhere and you happen to give them your contact details and then they contact you there's nothing illegal about that.

12. When the leaving do comes, don't be surprised if it's a let down. You may not get a big leaving gift. That's no reflection on your contribution to the company or your popularity. If you're one of many people being made redundant, for example, people may have giving fatigue. They still wish you well. You may feel emotional, and that's okay. But again, resist the urge to slag off the company or others. Remember your poor colleagues who are left behind. Also, work out in advance how you're going to get home safely, especially if you've had a few!

One other thing you might like to do is to create your own Exit Strategy. This should be done once you know you want to leave, but before you apply for and get that next job.

Your exit strategy is a list of all the skills, knowledge, and experiences you would like to gain in your final 3-6 months. To write one, ask yourself the question 'what would I like to develop, learn or know by the time that I leave, such that when I left I would feel I had learned all I could in this role and leave in peace?' Keep an eye on what the requirements would be for your next role in writing the answers. Then, put timescales to your list of actions and go for it.

If you would like to get support with leaving your company, email us or call 020 7720 9299.