Quitting you job is never easy. It’s a process that takes a little bit of time, contemplation and some preparation before you jump ship.
Years ago I was in the same boat as you are. I worked at a job that I didn't enjoy -- but worse -- it was a soul-sucking job. But, again, just like you -- I had to pay the bills. I can imagine if you are reading this article, your pain is kind of bad right now. I quit my job in a spectacular fashion, but I didn't realize that quitting my job would really be the worst thing I could have done.
For this reason, I share with you a few tips I've learned along the way so that you're not left in the dark like I was. Here are 15 tips to help you quit your job in the next three months and be better prepared for your future success.
1. Make sure you have non-work contact information.
This may sound obvious, but if you don’t have a personal email address, then go grab a free email such as Gmail. It is also a must -- if you don't have your own smartphone -- get one. Make sure that you have a personal phone line so that those who wish to contact you aren’t contacting you through your work number.
If you start sending out your resume or contacting prospective employers using your work address or phone, you’re just asking for trouble. There’s a good chance your employer is tracking your activity and if you’re using their resources or time -- do you think that they’ll provide a letter of recommendation for you? Likely not.
2. Be more active on LinkedIn.
After you’ve secure a new email and phone number, don’t forget to update your social channels with this new information -- especially LinkedIn. Also, make sure that you profiles are 100 percent complete and start joining relevant groups for your current and future job. You can use these groups to start building connections and use these connections to your advantage when someone you are connected to has a spot open that you may want.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to announce that you’re actively seeking a new job online until you’ve notified your current employer. This can be a little "iffy" as well. If you don't know how to do this, get some help from a LinkedIn whiz, or the help page of LinkedIn -- but you may want to consider blocking those from your current company while you look for a job. The reason: sometimes if you tell an employer that you are looking for something else, they will let you go that same day. So, take precautions and cover yourself.
3. Create a list of possible employers.
You don’t want to make the mistake of jumping from job to job without doing a little soul searching and research. Think about the things that you’re passionate about, what your strengths are, and what type of company or person that you want to work for. After that, start compiling a list of potential employers that sound promising.
Now that you have a list, start doing a little digging. Research these profiles from your list on LinkedIn and see if you have any mutual connections. Taking this step gives you a better idea of what kind of company they are and how you can start reaching out to them.
4. Tell your boss in person.
When I was younger I foolishly notified my boss that I was quitting by throwing a note. It was immature and unprofessional. Thankfully, it didn’t come back to haunt me. But, after talking with my former employer, it quickly dawned on me that I should have just talked to him in the first place face-to-face. Be professional, whatever tack you decide to take.
Before doing something spontaneous, schedule a meeting with your boss and inform them you are leaving. It’s a gesture that shows respect and self-confidence.
5. Give plenty of notice.
The traditional time that should be given is a two-week notice, but check your contract. Also, that’s not always enough time for your employer to find and hire new talent. This is especially true in more specialized areas or niches where the talent pool isn’t as deep. You may need to give your company more of head’s up than two weeks.
6. Be honest, but don’t feel obligated to explain.
There’s no need to make-up some excuse about why you’re leaving. Be transparent about your decision. Offering constructive criticism may help your employer to start implementing changes in the workplace. But generally, it is better to merely give your notice unless specifically asked for your opinion.
At the same time, unless you’re legally bound, you don’t have to go into the specifics of your decision for leaving -- like a an hour-long rant about your colleagues or the company. It’s a diplomatic approach that can leave the door open for a possible return at a later date.
7. Don’t get emotional.
Speaking of rants, keep your emotions at bay. Lashing out at your boss or coworkers may feel excellent for a minute or two, but when reality comes roaring back-in, you may notice that you just made a huge mistake. This definitely closes any chances of obtaining a referral or reapplying for your position if you have to.
Look for ways outside of the workplace to vent or blow off steam. Talk to your spouse or best friend. Start a workout routine. Do whatever you can to prevent any emotional outbursts while you are still an employee at your company.
I once hated one of my bosses, when I quit I held my tongue. Years later, he's one of my best friends.
8. Be cautious of the exit interview.
Some employers want to conduct an exit interview. If possible, I personally like to avoid these.
If you can’t get out of the exit interview, then prepare yourself by doing the following;
- Vent in advance and not during the exit interview.
- Think about what could make the company better.
- Focus on the positive components of your job and company.
- Share useful facts.
- Conduct your own informal exit interview with coworkers or managers, if possible.
- If none of these options are available -- keep quiet and be gracious. But really -- don't talk.
9. Prepare the resignation letter.
This isn’t always required, but if so, keep it short, concise, and gracious. Don’t use this as the time to write down your laundry list of complainants. Get directly to the point on why you’re leaving and thank your employer for the opportunity that you have had under their management.
If you need a little inspiration, Monster has a solid resignation template.
10. Create a manual for your replacement.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but your employer will survive without you. That doesn’t mean that there won't be a period of chaos. You can make this transition easier by creating a manual for your replacement.
It doesn't have to be extensive. It could simply be an outline list that goes over your schedule, tips on how you handle responsibilities and any passwords that they’ll need. Sometimes a list of contacts that will be helpful to your replacement is a classy exit help.
11. Review all legal documents.
Before you officially quit, review any legal documents that you signed. For example, you may have signed a non-compete agreement that prevents you from working for a competitor for a certain period of time. It may even forbid you from contacting anyone you've met while at that job. Know your options before you leave.
12. Don’t be a slacker.
Just because you’re leaving a company doesn’t mean that you have the right to slack off. Until your last day, you’re still an employee that’s receiving a paycheck. Keep working your tail off and demonstrate to your past and future employers that you’re worth every cent you've been paid, or will be paid.
13. Tie up any loose ends.
How strange is it going to be for a co-worker to see your empty desk one morning? Or, how about when a client attempts to get in touch with you because they have a question?
It's not fair to them -- specifically if you were collaborating on a project. If possible, keep others informed about your decision -- after you’ve told the boss directly, of course. And, make sure that you’ve tied up any loose ends. For example, if you were preparing someone’s taxes, make sure that you have them filed and not just handed over to someone else.
Here’s another pointer, refer any clients or customers to a colleague that you trust and can vouch for.
14. Start making money on the side.
“Learn a skill that you can use to make money on the side (preferably something you can do online) -- this is perfect,” suggests James Altucher. Think that’s a problem? There are hundreds of ways that you can make extra money on the side while keeping your full-time gig. Who knows? It could lead to new career opportunities.
15. Time is on your side.
If for some reason you can’t start a new job as soon as your new employer wants, inform them immediately. If you need a breather or need more time to tie up all of your loose ends, you don’t want to rush into a new position with that kind of weight holding you down. It’s the right thing to do for both you, your former employer, and your future employer -- to make this process as smoothly and painlessly as possible for everyone concerned.