Before you can say hello to something new, you have to say goodbye to what you are leaving. Knowing how to say goodbye correctly can make the difference between a smooth sailing transition period and a dark cloud looming over what should be a happy new beginning. Here are some guidelines when you know it is time to make a career change but you are unsure how to say goodbye to your old company without burning a bridge that might be useful to you down the road.
Timing is Everything
If you know you are planning on leaving, you need to begin putting the proper pieces in place. You do not want to leave your old boss in a bind, by leaving in the middle of a big project or while you have a ton of open projects on you desk. Begin taking note of what ongoing items you are working on, how long they will take to complete, and who else could step in, in your absence to complete them. This does not mean that you have to stay at your current job until everything is finished, it just means that you need to be mindful of the best time to exit. You also do not want to rush quitting your current job until you are 110% sure that you have your new job waiting for you. Do not jump the gun by telling your current employer about your new job before you have actually signed your new contract.
Schedule a Meeting
While the idea of sitting across from your boss while you tell them you are quitting is daunting. It is necessary if you hope to retain their trust and respect. Sending a “see ya later” email might save you from having an awkward conversation, but it all but guarantees that you are burning a bridge. Scheduling a face-to-face meeting is a sign of respect and gratitude for what your company and employer has done for you. Schedule this meeting for a time that works best for the conversation you are about to have. We suggest scheduling it for the end of the day before you are going to both head home. This allows your boss the time to sleep on what you have told them rather than thinking about it all day at the office.
Look back over your contract to see if there are any specifics laid out for terminating your employment. Know what you are entitled to as an employee (last pay check, unused vacation days, etc.) and what you are expected to give to your employer (notice, help finding replacement, etc). This is also the time to make note of where you are at with all of your responsibilities so that you can relay that information on to your employer (you just completed the X-project, will be finished with Y-project at the end of the week and Jane Doe knows everything so that she can finish the Z-project on her own).
Be Kind and Honest
Once you are face-to-face with your boss it is important to be both gracious and truthful. Tell them how grateful you have been for the opportunity to learn from them and how they have personally impacted your time at the company. Then explain why it is time for you to move on. You will be surprised by just how understanding your boss may be. If they respect you and want what is best for your career, then they will understand why you need to move on, in order to grow. If this conversation does not go as well as you would like and your boss is not okay with your decision to leave, that is on them. As long as you have honored your contract, set them up to succeed in your absence, and given them the respect they deserve by speaking to them face-to-face, you can take comfort in knowing that you handled your end of this goodbye correctly.