How to Leave Your Job… Correctly

There comes a point (or 15) in your career that you decide to move on from your current position/employer/industry. Hopefully when this time comes you’re moving on with a bittersweet feeling and a little nostalgia as Vitamin C’s “Graduation” plays in your head and you’re reminded of your growth and successes while feeling a bit of excitement for your next endeavor. If, however, you’re trying to quit to the tune of Ludacris’s Move B***H, I’d highly advise taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Quitting in an angry, vengeful, F$%# off manner can really only hurt you. After all, you’re the employee in need of a new employer. If you have no immediate plans of being self-employed or an employer yourself let me humble you by saying that even though you may be the best _________ (insert job title here) ever, there are plenty of other people like you. You’re not Superman — you’re replaceable.

That being said, there’s a lot that should happen before, while and after you say, “My time here has come to an end.” As a person who has recently gone through this, here are a few quick things I’ve learned while on this path:

You’re Quitting Long Before You Quit. Your manager should be shocked and surprised that you have plans of leaving. If they had any idea of (or seem excited about) your departure it was probably reflected in your poor job performance or your big mouth. Either way, the weeks/months leading up to “the conversation” you should be on your “A game.” If anything, they should notice your performance improving, not declining.

Moral of the Story: you need letters of recommendation. Your old faithful standbys from school and that summer internship from three years ago aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Seek Advice — Cautiously. Some of my biggest regrets in life aren’t what I did/didn’t do. It’s that I let other people talk me into/out of the things that I did/didn’t do. While a few people in your corner know every transgression your colleague Meg did because of your constant venting about her, they will never truly understand your experiences as they are not in your shoes. Only you are. That being said, seek advice from those who you consider to be wise. However, only you should have the final say in how you decide to write your script in life. Be courageous in your decisions and follow through with them. Most of all stand by them no matter what. If things go well — yay you! If not, we’ll chalk it up to character development.

Moral of the Story: You’re an adult and need to start making decisions for yourself.

Finances (Should Not Be The Only Thing That) Matter. Quitting a job without another to replace it is daunting and risky. Not being able to identify your next source of income is a situation that most people cannot imagine or put themselves in. However, if you’ve come to the conclusion that quitting is for you, you need to be resourceful in figuring out how to eat. Checking your local temp agency or Craigslist or creating a Care.com profile are just a couple of options to think about. Your financial exit strategy should be established before you start the exit process. Maybe you’ll stay an extra three months. Maybe you’ll stop eating out, going to happy hours and shopping online. Maybe you’ll start a second job to really build your savings. Finances are an important aspect to consider, but just having a steady paycheck should not be the reason you’re unhappily keeping a job.

Moral of the Story: Don’t let a dollar hold you back from happiness.

Leave How You Came In — Graciously and Thankful. There were so many times that I fantasized about walking into work one day, sliding my computer on my manager’s desk, saying “byeeeeeeeeeee” and crip walking out of there chucking the deuces. Luckily, I gained some sense and didn’t do this. Instead, I set up a coffee meeting with my manager and we hashed things out. I stated why I was leaving, my desired last date of employment and asked for any overarching feedback that I could use later in life. My manager and I had some highs and definite lows together, but it was great to end the conversation with receiving many compliments and an invitation to come back if I didn’t find what I was looking for elsewhere. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT! Even though I know the door is closed on my end, you should leave with your employer wanting you back and being open to your coming back. You’re the one who applied, interviewed for and accepted this job. Just because it didn’t work out for you, it doesn’t mean that you should forget how much you initially desired this job and were thrilled when you got it.

Moral of the Story: Always be appreciative of your life’s journey. As a chapter in your life concludes, try to figure out the best way to end it on a positive note. Whether the chapter began positively or negatively, remember you can control how it ends.

Stay Connected. I don’t believe in sending out an email to a chain of people I barely know at the firm saying “I’m leaving my job.” I also don’t believe in asking for phone numbers/emails I have no intention of using. Lately my default has been to ask people I care to stay in touch with if we can connect on LinkedIn. It’s the easiest way to build and maintain your professional network while getting updates and reminders on people’s lives as they also develop professionally. Whatever you do figure out how you’ll stay in touch with people as you’ll no longer have access to your company’s internal email system.

Moral of the Story: In the wise words of Trick Daddy, “Everybody know somebody that know somebody that know somethin.” In other words, don’t burn bridges. You just might be surprised how the people least suspect know the people you want to know.

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