We live in an age where very few people stay at the same job within the same company (or even in the same career) for an entire lifetime. Gone are the days of starting in reception and making your way up the ladder of seniority to become an account executive or partner. It’s just not something people are interested in—let alone able to do—anymore.
Within this nomadic career phenomenon, chances are you’ll find yourself quitting a job or two (maybe even in the same year), and it’s wise to do so in the most respectful and fair way possible, so you can maintain good professional relationships within your network.
Follow these five tips to up your chances of getting a positive reference from your employer after you move on to another position.
1. Give Notice to Your Employer
Although it might be easier to leave a job on the spot—especially if you’ve outgrown the position or don’t get along with your boss—giving notice goes a long way if you’re hoping to leave a positive impression on an employer.
How much notice should you give? It depends. Most jobs have a stipulation in the employment contract that outlines what constitutes reasonable notice of resignation.
Generally, the standard is about two weeks, but that can differ based on a few factors your employer may have set out. These include but are not limited to:
- The seniority of the position or experience required
- How easy it may (or may not) be to find a replacement
- The time and effort it would take to train a replacement
Offering to stay a few weeks before you leave gives your employer time to find someone new to fill the position so they aren’t left hanging. Your tasks will likely still need to be completed by someone when you’re gone, so having you stick around while a replacement is found means your duties won’t fall on another employee or your employer in addition to their own job requirements. Your co-workers and your boss will both appreciate that.
There are certain situations when employers terminate employees after they’ve given notice, and, in some cases in the United States, it is the employer’s legal right to do so provided they are not discriminating based on race, sex, or another protected-class category.
However, if you are willing to offer some or all of the concessions in this list to your boss upon handing in your notice, or even writing them into your letter of resignation, you’ll likely avoid a retaliatory termination.
2. Offer to Tie Up Loose Ends
Offering to wrap things up nicely bodes well with bosses because it creates less work for them. After you’ve handed in your notice, you can handle any and all outstanding business that you might have before your departure. The following are good loose ends to tie up:
- Finishing up any projects you’ve been working on
- Letting your co-workers know that you’ll be leaving
- Handing off remaining tasks that can’t be completed within your notice period to appropriate co-workers
- Communicating with clients to let them know they will be dealing with someone new
The added bonus of focusing your remaining time on completing everything you possibly can, is it will certainly help fill up those last few weeks, keeping them from trudging along slowly.
3. Offer to Help in the Hiring Process
Hiring a new candidate can be a stressful and busy process—it’s just one more thing for your boss to do. There’s no harm in proposing to help in the process. As someone who’s done the job before, you already have in-depth knowledge of the position’s requirements, and you might even be able to provide some insight or a list of duties that your employer might not have considered.
You can do the following to help in hiring a new worker:
- Write the job posting in its entirety (or at least the job description and the duties required)
- Upload the posting to various career sites on your employer’s behalf
- Recommend some replacements
- Go through the submitted resumes and vet some applicants
- Create a list of interview-worthy candidates from the applications
Many employers will even encourage your participation in the interview process because, once again, you’ll have a wealth of expertise and applied knowledge specifically pertaining to the position.
4. Offer to Help in the Training Process
An ideal scenario is to have a new hire overlap with you during your notice period so you can handle his or her training. Having a co-worker or your boss cover the training can be inconvenient and run counter with their regular tasks, which may even result in lackluster or mediocre training for the new employee.
By doing it yourself, you’ll be able to cover everything in-depth and share the nuances of the position’s requirements; for example, perhaps you know quicker or easier ways of doing things than your boss or co-worker would.
By using your experience, you can give helpful tips and tricks to help your replacement be more successful in the position.
5. Be Present During Your Notice Period
For some people, a common practice after handing in a resignation letter is to mentally “check out” for the remainder of their employment. Tempting as that may be, you’d be doing yourself a disservice.
Employers will notice changes in productivity or commitment, and that won’t exactly thrill them. If they feel like you’re wasting their time, they might start wondering if it’s worth keeping you on the payroll. This could increase your chances of a last-minute termination or a bad reference.
A Happy Send-off
Leaving a job on good terms will help you keep and maintain work connections, which might come in handy later on. If you can manage being considerate and helpful to your boss and co-workers during this transition period, it will certainly make for a nicer send-off. Just make sure to follow these tips, and update your resume after you’ve secured your brand new glowing reference from your former employer.
What other tips do you have for leaving a job on good terms?