Leaving a Job with Grace and Generosity

Written by: Linda Evans, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

So you’re leaving your job. Whether it feels devastating, bittersweet, or celebratory, you have probably heard that it is best to leave on good terms and not burn any bridges. If you have a strong loyalty streak like me, quitting a good job with good people can feel excruciating. If it was a soul-sucking job with toxic people, you might be tempted to be vindictive and cruel. Maybe your departure is voluntary, maybe it is not. But the world is small and you never know if and when you will interact with your former boss and colleagues again. Also, we feel good when we do good.

So how do you leave a positive lasting impression besides writing a nice resignation letter?

After quitting many jobs (including selling vacuums door-to-door with long hours and no base pay), here are some specific steps from my trenches of experience:

1. Write a Gratitude List - Reflect on all the benefits of your job, both tangible and intangible. Maybe the commute was awful but you had an incredible mentor. Maybe you gained some valuable skills and credentials that would have been difficult to obtain on your own. Maybe the location allowed you to discover Ethiopian food and take kickboxing classes regularly. Write down all the small and big things. Share it with your boss and others.

2. Contribute to the End - Once you submit your resignation and people know you are leaving, do not just coast for the next few weeks. You are still being paid, you still have your job title. Be present in meetings, keep commitments, and give your best quality work. Leave no loose ends and create a smooth transition for others to take over your projects.

3. Create the Best Toolkit for Your Successor - Do more than type a vague list of your job duties. Put yourself in your successor’s shoes and imagine what would have been helpful to you when you started your job. Write clear instructions, compile logins and passwords, and label documents descriptively. Put everything in one folder and create a master document detailing how to use each document, then explain it to your boss so they can better supervise your successor.

4. Spend Time with Your Favorite Work Friends - If you were fortunate enough to make some meaningful human connections at your job, schedule lunch with them. Take pictures. Pour out the praise for their support, humor, and advice. Do not say you will keep in touch unless you truly mean it. This is not the time for empty promises. Keep in touch with the gems who become lifelong friends.

5. Clean Your Office Immaculately - Who wants to move into a dusty, crumby, grimy office with the random leftover junk of the former occupant? Absolutely no one. Take home, recycle, or throw away everything in your office or cubicle. Wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Ask the custodian to do a thorough vacuum. It symbolizes the blank pages of your next chapter as well.

6. Write Linkedin Recommendations - Write as many genuine, specific Linkedin recommendations as you can for everyone in your organization, and do not tell them about it or ask to return the favor. Expect nothing in return. Let them discover it later and be delightfully surprised. It is like finding cash in the pocket of an old jacket.

I promise that if you do all of these gracious and generous things before you leave your job, regardless of the circumstances, you will feel better about yourself and everything you are leaving behind. Your heart might even grow a size. Then you can look forward to the future with hope and serenity.

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Linda Evans, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Linda Evans is a strengths-based career coach and personal branding expert. In 2011, she founded her virtual career coaching business, Launched by Linda, LLC. Her full-time career has been in higher education since 2012, and she currently works in Career Services at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Linda has a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in Ballroom Dance from Brigham Young University, and an M.A. in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is also a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and has certificates in positive psychology and public speaking.



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