Why Leave a Job with Grace

Meet Mary – the marketing manager. She has been working with the company for three years. She recently found out that her position would be eliminated. She was offered a package. Mary was lucky enough to find a job at another company fast. She spent her last day at work sending out emails to everybody she knew (even the president of the company) saying  she wasn’t treated fairly and the company was not worth it.

There is no doubt that people who are made redundant (either due to restructuring or poor performance) feel let down, angry and vulnerable. They try to make sense of it all in their mind; what went wrong, why them, what they could have done differently. Emotions are running high.

Nevertheless, playing the ‘blaming’ game won’t help you in the long-term even if you feel that they deserve to hear your views.

Leaving with grace is a much more preferred option. The world is really small. You will probably end up working again with some of your ex-colleagues. So, it is important to protect ‘your brand’ that you have worked quite hard to build over the years.

If you are in Mary’s situation, here are three top tips:

  1. Work hard until the last minute. Finish up the projects you have been working and give a proper hand-over. People will remember your professionalism.
  2. Frame things in a positive way. Don’t badmouth your boss or any of your co-workers even if you feel mistreated. Remember that whatever you put in writing, it stays in your record. Be careful of what you say and what you write.
  3. Thank your colleagues and keep their contact details. Your social network will be a significant resource for you in the future. Make sure you leave in good terms. Keep in touch with your co-workers (LinkedIn has made this easy).

In parallel, make sure you negotiate the terms of your separation. Some areas to consider:

  • Ask of a severance package (first check what the company’s and the market’s practice has been). In some cases, you may have to seek legal advice.

    When to leave a job with grace

    Never burn bridges!

  • Ask for help finding a job. Some employers may be able to put you in touch with ‘outplacement services’ and also pay the bill.
  • Ask for references. If you don’t feel comfortable to get one from your manager, ask a colleague with whom you have worked well in the past.

Similar principles apply if you voluntarily quit your job. Even if you end up with a much better one, be humble. You never know how things will evolve in the future.

The bottom line: When you leave a job, do it with grace so it doesn’t come back to haunt you. As they say, never burn bridges.

If you have more advice to give on these situations, feel free to share.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author of 2 books, consultant and speaker. She has worked in senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian.

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