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Quit with Grace

So how do you "Say grace and leave the place" --gracefully?


Say you finally found a better job and can't wait to get out the door. But wait just a minute. DO NOT walk into your boss' office and tell him you never liked him or working for his company. It is NOT good form to let colleagues know you're moving on to what you believe will be a much happier work situation. 

Remember that they DON"T have that option and have to stay put.

So what should you do when it's time to "say grace and leave the place?"

Howard Seidel, partner from Essex Partners, offers the following suggestions:


To whom should you give your notice? 
  Usually your direct manager. However there may be situations when you have a strong long-term relationship another person where you may want to make sure that person hears the news directly from you and not someone else. It is often appropriate to tell whomever you first give notice to let you tell some key others directly.
 
What should you do in the case of a counteroffer? 
If you would be serious about staying in the role should the counteroffer be good enough it makes sense to consider it-however, don't make a company go through a fire drill to counter you if you know you are leaving anyway. That can cause or aggravate hard feelings. 
 
Can you talk about the effects of making a spectacle in social networks (like trash-talking your old boss)? 
        Aside from the fact that you never want to burn bridges when you can help it,   "trashing" former bosses or companies in a public place typically also makes the person doing the trashing look bad as well. Handling a difficult situation with some class is usually the better way to go. 
 
How should you handle an exit interview? 
 It's usually best to be constructive without making the complaints personal about a particular person or persons. No matter what you are told, assume that your feedback could get back to people. It is often a very tough and personal decision as to whether one should use an exit interview to call out behavior in an organization they consider to be wrong or abusive. One question to consider in making such a decision-do I think the issue I experienced was an anomaly or part of the culture?
 
How much notice should you give your employer? 
Two weeks is minimum standard notice but depending on the role and seniority sometimes more is expected. That is especially true if you are very close to the completion of a major project. It often doesn't sit well with companies to have someone leave at a critical time-then again, sometimes that can't be helped. Be prepared if you do give notice that a company may terminate you early anyway.
 
How should you handle health benefits? 
 In general you don't want to let your previous group insurance lapse until you know you are covered by something else. You generally have 60 days after leaving a role to decide whether to exercise COBRA benefits. However, however health benefit issues can be complex and we live at a time where some of the benefits laws are changing. If you have a specific question about your coverage talk to a benefits professional.
 
Should you offer to train your replacement? 
I am more apt to suggest offering your help to the company generally in the transition process until you leave. That might include supporting a replacement, but it may not. It is possible for example that your replacement won't even be selected by the time you leave the company.
 
Please explain why walking out isn't a smart move? 
Even under the worst of circumstances it looks really bad to people if you don't leave the right way and give proper notice. I am not just talking about the people at the company you are leaving but to the people at your new company (or to a potential employer if you haven't solidified another role yet). There may be reasons in your own mind why walking out is appropriate but short of a sense of real physical or mental danger, walking out can be a tough thing to live down.
 
How should handle your online presence? 
There is no universal expectation that you change your online presence (especially LinkedIn) immediately after departing from a job but most people usually make the change within 1 or 2 months. Once you land in a new role you should make the changes as soon as possible.
 
Why are recommendations important and who are the best people to get them from? What if internal recommendations aren't an option? 
Recommendations are critical. There are few companies who won't want to talk to your references before making a hire. If you are still in a job, your potential employer won't expect to be able to talk to people at the current company though it can be helpful for a peer to speak "off the record". You might also seek the reference of a former supervisor or colleague that has left the company. Hiring companies will expect though to talk to other past employers to learn about you.  
 
The best reference is someone who will say unambiguously good things about you, preferably in a supervisory role to you. Weak references can kill you with faint praise. If you have left a company and still no one will talk on your behalf (even at least other people who have left the company) that can be a problem. Have a reason to explain it and other references outside the company that are very strong.
 
Remember, in addition to formal references, companies may "blind" reference you-that is seek information from people that aren't on your reference list. It's one of the reasons why it is good to try to end things on a good note even with people who aren't your best advocates.
 
What other mistakes do people commonly make when leaving a job? 
Burning bridges through bad or indifferent behavior that will forever lose certain people as resources or potential references. b) Providing references without knowing what they will say. c) Telling a story about one's departure from a company that is inconsistent from the story your references will likely tell. d) Using a written reference from a person who won't talk to a potential company directly (there are exceptions but in general that tends to smell like a "negotiated" reference)
 
Seidel also suggests you u se commonsense and decency when exiting a company-even if it's a bad situation try to take the "high road". Cultivate your references, know what they think of your strengths and weaknesses and let them know how you are framing your departure, he adds.   ###. 
 

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