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How to leave your job like a professional

Published on Saturday, 04 Apr 2015

Whether you are terminated, downsized or leave on your own accord, there are many ways to ensure a graceful exit and to employ proper protocol when leaving. The measures below will keep your reputation intact and help you chart a polished and professional exit strategy.

Be honest about why you are leaving. If you need a change, a more positive work environment, an increase in salary or you simply need a new career challenge, be honest about it. You can also offer feedback on ways to enhance working conditions at an exit interview.

Think of the good things you have done for the company and what you have learned from it. Stay positive about your departure and do not complain about your boss or colleagues, because you never know when they may be in a position to help or hinder your career.

Give good notice. Be sensitive about the timing of your transition. Could you stay longer to assist in training your replacement? Will you leave the company in a bind?

Keep things private. You have no doubt heard about public, over-the-top ways disgruntled or combative employees have left their jobs – but these are not stories to emulate. You should refrain from sharing the news of your impending exit on social media.

If you have found a new position, only share the news with the appropriate supervisor, not colleagues or friends. Even if you were terminated or left under harsh circumstances, take the high road when discussing your tenure with a former employer. With many employers now checking social media, it is best to stay above board both on and offline.

Do not steal. It may seem obvious, but many employees think that when leaving a job, it is harmless to keep a few mementos. However, this sort of behaviour can be interpreted as theft.

Before you leave a position, be sure to return all flash drives, electronic equipment such as laptops, tablets, cell phones, office/desk keys and other company owned items.

Do not take the company’s client list or intellectual property for your own personal use. You may be in violation of a “non-compete” agreement and could face legal action.

Finish the job you started. As you begin the countdown to your last day on the job, you may be tempted to cut corners, take extra long lunches or leave an unfinished project for your eventual replacement. However, adopting this attitude can alienate your colleagues. By remaining an active member of the team, your reputation will stay intact long after you clock out for the final time.

Pamela Eyring is owner and president of The Protocol School of Washington

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