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"I Quit Thee" or The 8 Steps For Leaving Your Old Job Gracefully

in Succeeding At Work

by Maria Khafizova
September 28, 2017

As if quitting your job and finding a new one in time wasn't stressful enough, these violent delights also have the potential to have violent ends... Just kidding. Read on to make sure your transition from your old company to a new role goes as smoothly as possible, assisted by William Shakespeare's timeless wisdom.

According to Shakespeare, "All's Well That Ends Well", but what did the playwright really know of the realities of modern employment, unemployment and the so-called 'funemployment'? In the 21st century, Shakespeare's play would have been titled something way less snappy, along the lines of "All's Well That Ends Well, Given A Timely Resignation Notice, An Understanding Boss, A Great Severance Package, And Lack Of Petty Office Politics." Doesn't sound so wise anymore, does it? Don't worry, Shakespeare still has plenty to lift us up with in the turbulent times of changing jobs.

1. On keeping calm:

"THERE IS NOTHING EITHER GOOD OR BAD, BUT THINKING MAKES IT SO."

First off, let's make sure to proceed with your career transition guilt-free. Considering that 34% of employees are planning to leave their current job in the next 12 months, and 27% switch jobs yearly, you are definitely not alone in your decision, and hardly an HR anomaly. You are not going to Mars, nor are you leaving your team mates forever- your work friends will transition into 'friends-friends' and your projects will always be a part of your portfolio. 

While making the decision to quit should not be taken lightly, once the decision has been made, there is no point in adding extra pressure on yourself by guilt-tripping. Making sure you bring a positive attitude to your new role depends as much on your commitment as it does on knowing that you leave no loose ends in your previous place of employment.  

2. ON ANNOUNCING YOUR EXIT IN STYLE:

"BETTER 3 HOURS TOO SOON, THAN A MINUTE TOO LATE."

Avoid any misunderstanding or office rumours - finding out about your decision from someone else may put your colleagues or clients in an awkward situation, so make sure to tell your story yourself.

Prepare a list of crucial contacts in advance, as it has to include at least the following: your line manager, any team members you are managing, anyone you currently have unfinished projects with, your clients and wider network, and your closest colleagues. The key, however, is not to post a short "I QUIT, SEE YA <3" blast on social media or its equivalent elsewhere, but to work on personalized and genuinely personal announcements. Whereas in some situations your official note of resignation would work, a close teammate or a mentee would require a personal touch. We know quitting may feel hectic, but your resignation announcements should not shout from the rooftops that you are rushing to say your good-byes and skidaddle. 

3. ON REPUTATION MANAGEMENT:

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

A perfect maxima for career reputation management - approach your resignation process with caution (and with this Shakespeare quote in mind). Making sure your immediate management as well as top company employees are officially notified sooner than your next-cubicle-neighbor is just a part of the process. When in doubt, it is better to not share the news with anyone at all, no matter how friendly your office relationships may be. When the decision has been made and you are ready to announce, take breaking the news as if you were releasing an urgent PR statement or a message for your stakeholders: forward it to all interested parties in as short of a time period as possible. 

4. ON SOCIAL MEDIA STATUSES:

"What's done can't be undone."

For this statement is obvious when it comes to your actions in the office, it is definitely true for your online presence. After your respectful, thoughtful and timely announcements have been made internally and your resignation officially accepted, you should proceed to update your LinkedIn and other social media profiles, making sure your key contacts not only know of your transition but also continue building your professional reputation. Whether you happen to be one of those people writing long-winded statuses with every sentence broken up into its own paragraph, or prefer a more succinct approach, you do you. Only a more professional you, with 0 spelling mistakes. 

5. On being unsure about your next steps:

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."

Not sure about your next career step and don't know what to update that profile headline with? Focus on your latest accomplishments or your next volunteering gig, put a description for your general career goal or a research project, copy-paste a joke or a link to your blog - do anything else but bravely put that "unemployed" condition out there for the world to see. Future-proofing your digital CV means making sure you are still found by recruiters and literally appear in word searches. Do you think "unemployed" is an employee role any hiring manager is looking for? We didn't think so either. 

6. ON VENTING (DON'T DO IT):

"Listen to many, speak to a few."

If you were going through a messy breakup, you would never willingly want to be that girl or guy who is known for speaking badly behind their ex's back. No matter how challenging your previous employer was, starting to publicly announce their issues the second you are out the door is unseemly at best and bitter at worst. Most importantly, however warranted, negative chit-chat will send the wrong signal both to your old and future employers. Breathe in and out and let it go. For not wanting to sound too zen over here, saying farewell to your past in a dignified way will definitely demonstrate that you are a professional and help you appreciate your new experiences instead of holding on to old grievances. 

7. ON dealing with unfinished business:

"Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind."

You know that nagging feeling when you have forgotten a task where you had to do something very important about someone you don't remember at exactly you don't know what hour? Us too. And it is not great. To make sure you have new beginnings you need to have clean ends. Slash no loose ends at all. Ideally before leaving the office but at least before starting on your new position, make sure to pass on any responsibilities or projects you had been involved in in the past. Better seem overly eager to help and work a few extra hours than to have your clients think you went all MIA with an Out Of The Office message instead of a good-bye.

Come back to that conversation where you offered your help to someone in a different department and explain the situation, check in with your team members and do follow-up on that unpaid invoice. Share your passwords, clean the Google drive, arrange your desk. It is never too much effort when the ultimate prize is your own peace of mind.

8. On keeping it together:

"This above all; to thine own self be true."*

Using Shakespeare's more dignified take on the modern "You Do You" principle, we encourage you to make sure to stay true to your team, your role and your future career during this transition time. It is never easy to leave your fellow colleagues and let go of projects you have poured your heart into at your old company. Whether it is a good or a mediocre experience that you are leaving behind, your skill-set only improves with every transition and your character grows through facing struggles. So put a smile on, dust off that silver MacBook of yours and get ready for your next employee onboarding experience!

*Headings throughout this blog post courtesy of W.Shakespeare.

Don't want your employees to quit? Neither do we! Research shows, 73% of companies are revamping their onboarding in order to increase employee retention rates from Day 1. Is your onboarding program good enough? Get a free onboarding scan here.