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Move On, But Don't Burn Bridges

Author: Michael Scaletti

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will have 12+ jobs over the course of their lifetime. That number is only growing as we become less tied to single career paths and single locations. The question is, how do you leave behind a job when it is time to move on without burning that bridge behind you? It can be a bit nerve wracking. When do you tell your boss? What makes a good resignation letter? Are resignation letters still necessary?

The answer to that last one is pretty simple. It is a resounding yes. But the purpose of a resignation letter might not be what you think it is. A resignation letter should not be what you are using to announce your resignation. Instead it is a formal record used to document your leaving. Make sure that your actual resignation is given in person in a private meeting with your boss, or if that is not possible, at the very least over the phone. No one wants to find out that they are losing an employee via letter. Once you’ve had that conversation the resignation letter reinforces it and ensures that there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications later. This will be useful the next time you are looking for work as it documents that you both left of your own accord and that you provided two weeks notice.

The other thing to keep in mind about resignation letters is that they are not a place to express your disappointment or frustrations with your employer. As mentioned above, they are simply a form of formal documentation. Keep it short. Two to three sentences to confirm your decision to resign, note when your last day will be, and indicate today’s date. Add a bit of well wishing and your done.

Once you have had a successful resignation meeting and submitted your resignation letter, the best way to make sure that your soon to be former employer has warm feelings about you after you leave is to help ensure a smooth transition.

Identify all of the pending tasks on your plate. What outstanding assignments and duties would it be most valuable to finish before you leave. Get to work on completing as much and as many of them as is possible in your remaining time. Also, document any pending tasks that will need to be completed after you leave. Make sure management is aware of them and has a plan in place for ensuring that they are completed. This can also include a list of tips, tricks, and advice for your replacement.

Offer to help with finding and/or training your replacement with some of the time you have remaining. This is both a wonderful way to breed goodwill, and a really nice thing to do for the person who is replacing you. Walk them through duties, provide them with useful knowledge, and generally set them up for success. Also, don’t forget to make sure they know where all the files, documents, and passwords are located!

If you’ve gone through these steps, then it will be very likely that your former employer will have only wonderful things to say about you after you’re gone, and that means a great reference when it’s time to look for a new job down the line!

Speaking of looking for a new job, have you considered using a recruiting agency?

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