You’ve quit your job. You’re saying goodbye. Hopefully this means you’re moving on to something bigger and better. But no matter what, there are a few steps you need to take to make a dignified exit.
No matter what you do, don’t burn any bridges. Resist the temptation to say all the nasty things you’ve been bottling up all this time, and exit with grace and poise. Here are 7 steps to leaving with grace and class.
1. Transfer your files.
Make sure to shore up any files you need to pull from your work computer before you formally leave. Make sure to put all files that might be relevant to the company or your coworkers somewhere accessible (i.e. a shared drive), then wipe out your computer for the next guy. Clear your browsing history, delete unneeded personal documents, etc.
2. Write your farewells.
You’ll want to write a sign-off letter to your coworkers and friends thanking them respectfully for their work during your time at the company and letting people know how they may contact you in future. Resist the urge to pen that feel-good vindictive bomb of an email telling everyone just exactly what you think of management or the company itself. That can only come to disaster. Remember, don’t express your resentment, no matter how righteous. This is a networking opportunity. Don’t pass it up.
3. Write your boss.
Even if you dislike your boss, it’s good form to write a thank you letter, articulating what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. If you have a good relationship and aren’t totally full of rage, it’s often nice to offer your help in the transition of your replacement.
4. Shore up projects.
Make sure you aren’t leaving anybody hanging. Change your voicemail message. Set an auto-response on your email. Make sure clients and colleagues will all know who to contact upon your absence to get their needs met and projects completed.
5. Clear out your desk.
Take only what belongs to you. Return things as necessary to IT. Resist temptation to steal the stapler or that sweet external hard drive. And don’t be the jerk who takes their keys. They will be useless to you going forward, but will cause someone extra work if you skate out with them. It’s best to wait to do the actual clearing out of your desk until the end of your last day—unless you have a massive office full of your effects.
6. Leave a great impression.
If you’ve had a good relationship with your coworkers here, consider bringing in cupcakes or something on your final day. Go out on a happy note!
7. Give a good exit interview.
If your company has an exit interview procedure in place, great. This is your opportunity to be honest about your criticisms. Again, don’t be resentful. Keep it concise, and try writing it out beforehand to make sure you’re not speaking in anger. Keep your tone respectful and don’t forget also to include your praise for the better aspects of your experience at that job. Be professional, no matter what. Honesty is great, but try to stay positive.
A few other things to keep in mind: Even if you’re super excited to be out of there, you shouldn’t be too unrestrained in your excitement. Remember all the people you’re leaving behind! Instead focus on the positives and be respectful of the people who will continue to work at this company long after you have left.
Avoid saying all the (possibly true, but mean) things you want to say, like “I was not the problem,” or “You are a terrible manager,” or “Thank goodness I’m getting off this sinking ship.” Honesty isn’t necessarily your best policy on the way out. You don’t, for example, want to tell your annoying coworker that you never liked working with them. There are plenty of things that can remain unsaid—at least until you go out and celebrate your escape with non-work friends.
Keep it classy, close the door, and start your new chapter with a good attitude and only positivity behind you!