Ask Matt: What's the best way to leave my current job?

  • Updated: January 7, 2013 - 9:31 AM

Dear Matt: I've accepted a new job and feel good about leaving my current company, but bad about leaving my boss short-handed. Part of me is glowing though because I'm moving on from some corporate politics and bad work relationships. That said, how can I move on and maintain a solid professional reputation in the process?

Matt says: So many job seekers focus on what they need to do to get a new job that they don't look into what they need to do to leave their current position with grace and professionalism. Taking some time to wrap up any loose ends can help the transition for you, your company and co-workers. You can only enhance your reputation by leaving on solid terms. And no matter how badly you may want to deliver any parting shots at your boss, co-workers or company leaders -- resist.

"Exit in the most professional manner possible," says Tim Cotroneo, a recruiter with Minneapolis-based MDS Staffing (mdsstaffing.com). "Rather than firing off a final shot that burns bridges, try to ensure a lasting, positive legacy."

You never know when your current boss may move to a new company and have a new opportunity for you. You don't know when that co-worker will start her own company and need your expertise as a consultant. You don't know when the company owner will try to recruit you back. Think long term -- little things you do now can leave a lasting impression later. Cotroneo offers this list:

Give two week's notice, which is standard professional courtesy.

If someone in the company will move into your role, offer to train them before you leave.

Provide project updates and respond to all emails with plans detailing the next steps.

Simply thank your employer, boss or supervisor for the opportunity.

If your employer asks why you are leaving, tell them the new job offers a much shorter commute or fits your professional goals more closely. Resist saying you don't like the CFO or the direction your department is going. You also have some personal loose ends to tie up. What will happen with your 401(k)? Will you be paid out any vacation days? When does your health insurance end and when does your new insurance start? What equipment do you have to return?

"Try to leave your position in better shape than when you arrived," says Cotroneo. "Remember, your current employer can provide a reference that could enhance your future reputation." And chance at future opportunities, because even though you are excited about this new opportunity, you never know when (or with whom) you could be working in the next opportunity.

GOT A CAREER QUESTION FOR MATT? EMAIL ASKMATT@STARTRIBUNE.COM

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