Monday, May 16, 2011

Exiting Gracefully

This post does not have to do with getting a job, but since I've had a couple employees resign recently, the right way to exit a job is on my mind. I understand that people need to change jobs sometimes. Generally, I think the two year rule is a good one (ie, if you want to leave on good terms with a company, stay for at least two years), but lately, at least one year is decent for me. I deal with a lot of new grads, so it's typical that they decide that non-profit is not for them and/or want to make more money. I understand. It's not for everyone, and you have to be really committed if you are going to work this hard and not be paid more for it.

However, there is something to be said for the WAY you exit a company. Here are some general rules.

1. Tell your direct supervisor first. Lately, I've been the first to get the call and not the direct supervisor. This gets awkward when I assume the direct supervisor knows and unintentionally break the news before the employee does. It's fine to call another "superior" directly, but make sure you tell your supervisor first - it's more respectful to him or her.

2. Give at least two weeks notice - longer if you need to finish a project. I've hired several people recently where I had to wait a longer time before they started working for me because they felt that they needed to complete a particular project before they left their current position. I RESPECT THAT! In fact, I sometimes wish my former employees were that committed to how they completed their work for our company.

3. Finish strong. It's tough to make the last couple of weeks at your job very productive. You've started to disengage and mentally move on. Try your hardest to finish strong. Complete your files, create notes, do your best to pitch in and help your co-workers. Why should you do this? Other than the fact that it's the (ahem) right thing to do while you are still being paid? Finish strong because it increases the chances you can get a good recommendation and someday, maybe get re-hired, should you decide to re-join the company. We have several people who have left our company for higher paying jobs and returned because they enjoyed the work they did here more. A big part of why they were re-hired was because of the WAY they left.

The way you leave a company reveals a lot about your character. So make the tougher choice and exit gracefully.

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