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Three Tips For Leaving Your Job On A Good Note

  August 4

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leaving your jobI’m out and about today doing my first paid public speaking gig as Budget Blonde. 🙂 It should be pretty fun. I’ll be out at Rutgers University teaching some awesome high school students how to become millionaires. There will be talk of Beyonce. It should be epic.

So, in the meantime, please welcome my friend Brian who recently quit his job as a teacher to be a stay at home Dad and full time blogger. Many of you probably know him, but if you don’t, you totally should:

So you’ve finally given notice to the boss letting him or her know you will be leaving the company. It’s been a tough decision but as you explain, it’s simply time to move on. Now comes the tough part – sticking it out until the last day.

Whether there are six months or only two-weeks to go until your departure the ending will be difficult. However, it’s critical to know how to end your tenure at the company on a good note because…

You don’t know what the future will hold.

It may be true that you will never return to this organization. That will definitely be the case if you leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth on your way out the door. Employers have a long memory and they will be very unlikely to re-hire a person who stirred up negativity or created frustration in their final days of employment.

Even deeper than that issue though is that you should want your good name carried forward. When people remember your time at the company, it should be with fondness and gratitude for all you accomplished.

Furthermore, you want your good name to be spoken well of within the industry. Don’t be naïve…employers do talk. Perhaps your name will come up in the conversation. The goal should be for your former employer to only have good things to say about you in that discussion.

With those things in mind, here are three things you can do to make the final weeks or months positive ones.

1. Always take the high road. There is a reason you are moving on to a new situation. Could be something as simple as a job opportunity that provides a higher salary and more lucrative benefits. But perhaps it’s due to a poor working environment, one where you have become disillusioned with the people at and the practices of the company.

Whatever the reason for leaving – don’t throw specific people or the entire company under the bus. Every job has its quirks and tensions to manage. It does no good to bring up these issues or spread negativity on items you a) haven’t talked about before, b) can’t resolve before you leave and c) will have no impact on solving in the future.

Rest assured the negative gossip you spread will eventually reach the ears of someone that matters. That person will be less likely to spread your good name forward with 100% enthusiasm.

2. Fight the tendency to let up. Because you are looking forward to another role, there is a tendency to check out emotionally in your current position. “After all,” we rationalize, “I’m only going to be here a short while longer. Why push myself to exhaustion for something I’m not committing to anymore?”

It’s critical to fight against this line of thinking. If we succumb to it our job performance will suffer and we will find no fulfillment in our last days. More importantly we will let people down who are counting on us to complete projects.

3. Help create a smooth transition. In the final days, do whatever you can to set the company up for success going forward. The transition needs to be as seamless as possible. It would set the organization back if you didn’t let your department know the status of current projects or where vital pieces of information were located.

Recently, after 17 years in education, I left to become a stay at home dad and full-time blogger. I knew at the very beginning of the school year that it would be my last. So over the next 9 months I made sure my curriculum notes were in order, my lesson plans were coded properly into our management software, and my outlines and handouts were organized. My thought was to make the transition easier for the incoming teacher who would take over my role. They could come in and pick right up where I left off.

All three of the points I mentioned today have one thing in common…they will have your employer singing your praises. Sure they may be sad to see you leave, but at least you haven’t given them an excuse to develop some negative feelings along the way. That could prove vital for your future success.

What else can you do to leave a good impression when you leave a job? How tough is it to fight against apathy when you know the end is near? What negative experiences do you have about leaving a company?

About the author: Brian Fourman is a former private school personal finance and Bible teacher now turned stay at home dad and blogger. His hobbies include rental real estate, running, cooking and sports. In his down time, he loves hanging out with his four kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work. You can check him out providing encouragement and inspiration on his blog at or by connecting with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

So you’ve finally given notice to the boss letting him or her know you will be leaving the company. It’s been a tough decision but as you explain, it’s simply time to move on. Now comes the tough part - sticking it out until the last day. Whether there are six months or only two-weeks to go until your departure the ending will be difficult. However, it’s critical to know how to end your tenure at the company on a good note because…

31 responses to “Three Tips For Leaving Your Job On A Good Note

  1. Your speaking gig sounds awesome Cat. Good luck! I’m sure you will do well.

    Great post. I tried to leave on as good of terms as I could, but it was pretty hard. I know they would never take me back because the business was extremely reliant on me, but I had to do what I had to do. I felt guilty for leaving for way too long and I eventually just had to force myself to blurt it out and tell them I was leaving because I knew there was no other way I would do it.

    I did try to do as much work as I could do to help them out there. I stayed late for months before I even told them so that I could try to get them as ahead as I possibly could before I left.

    1. ” I felt guilty for leaving for way too long…” I can relate to this Michelle. I had been at my school for 17 years and had really connected with students and staff. After so long, you are kind of expected to be a for-lifer and you do feel guilty leaving people and all you’ve worked for behind. But like you, I knew the move had to be made. I found it to be quite the relief when I finally told people.

  2. Great tips, Brian! I think taking the high road is the best tip here. It’s so easy to want to vent and air your grievances but I think leaving on a good note is a much better route to go.

    And good luck, Cat! I hope you rock it! 🙂

    1. “…vent and air your grievances…” You are right because there is always at least one thing you don’t like about your company. Best to keep that to yourself as you head out the door.

  3. Can’t wait to hear about the Rutgers gig, I’m pretty sure speaking is something I want to get into in the near future!

    As for leaving jobs- it’s typically always been under bad circumstances, but I still try to take the high ground.

    1. That’s the right path to take Stefanie even if it’s not on the best of terms. I wouldn’t want to damage any opportunity in the future because I ticked people off heading out the door.

  4. This won’t work in every case, but in two of my career transitions, I gave months of notice. The first time, I told my boss I’d have to start looking in another area of the country if my husband was not successful locking down a job after finishing his Master’s. That did end up happening and three months later, I was gone. When my husband relocated north for his career, I was able to tell my employer that I’d be leaving whenever our house sold, which could be weeks or months. They were able to open up another position to try to back-fill mine before I was even gone. They really appreciated me not waiting until I was two weeks away. I still have a great relationship with my former manager and I know he’d give me a great reference if I needed one.

    1. I gave a lot of notice as well, at least to the people who needed to know. I didn’t tell everyone, including students and parents until very near the end. I thought it only fair to give the administration as much time as possible to fill my slot…which they did.

  5. I think of it as why would you want to burn the bridge you crossed when you either may need to cross it again, or use your former employer as a job reference when searching for another position? Even in exit interviews where HR will often ask for feedback on your professional experience with the company, I keep my emotions out of it and clearly state any issues and provide suggestions for improvement.

    1. “…use your former employer as a job reference…” Yes…absolutely you will want that. And don’t think they will give you one anyway “just because.” I’ve withheld a positive reference before because of “how they left it” with me.

  6. I feel like I did everything right when I left my job in April of 2013. I gave almost a month’s notice and did a lot of extra work to ensure a smooth transition. I feel like they would give me a great reference if I ever needed one, and that’s all that matters to me.

    1. “…did a lot of extra work to ensure a smooth transition.” Although they are sad to see you go, deep down employers appreciate this. Giving it all until the end will come back around in a positive way sometime in the future.

  7. Congrats on the speaking gig Cat, you’re going to do awesome!

    Good post Brian! I know it can be a struggle to choose the high road, but it’s so vital to do. Even if there are some negatives at play, I think it’s important to act with integrity and do your job to its fullest until the day you leave. You’re right, you never know what’s going to happen in the future, and you want to be able to hold your head high. Personally speaking, we’ve actually done work for several people we both worked with in prior corporate jobs and that would’ve never happened if we left on a bad note.

  8. It is very important that you keep your good name at all costs. Leaving behind a spotty reputation can come to bite you in the butt in ways that you can’t begin to imagine. Let everyone always be singing your praises.

  9. Wow, congrats on the speaking gig! You’ll rock it! And this info is so vital. Left a job I thought I’d never come back to, and then ended up needing it in my new location. Being a great worker to the end was key!

  10. Nice job on getting a speaking gig! So cool.

    These are great tips. It’s hard to give 100% when you are halfway out the door, but it’s important to leave a good impression. I never want to burn any bridges, so I make sure I write up standard operating procedures, offer feedback and even recommend people if I think they would be a good fit.

    1. “It’s hard to give 100% when you are halfway out the door,..” This is so true Melanie. We have to fight the urge that our mind has to disengage because our time their is limited.

  11. This is the philosophy I have lived by. Even when I left jobs I hated, I always left on good terms, hoping that they would provide an awesome reference, and always be willing to hire me back should I need the work. In once case, I actually went back when the new job I took didn’t pan out. It always pays to be nice!

    1. Even if you may not like the job in the now, circumstances can change and you may want to go back like you said. Always need to leave the possibility open for a return.

  12. My husband told his manager that he was going to resign last month, but the management asked him to stay. They offered him a higher position, higher pay and a US visa. So for me, it was really a good negotiable one.

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