Successful Job Transitions, II: I Quit! Now What?

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 19, 2012

In Part 1 of the series Successful Job Transitions, we looked at how to stay in control of your job search.  

Now that we're moving on to that new job, here are some tips for continuing your smooth job transition during the stickiest part of that transition: The final two weeks.

It's why they're called "significant" others

Before marching into the CEO's office to share a celebratory "I quit!" make sure your spouse, children, bank manager and golden retriever know what you are up to. If you want them behind you, be up front.

Just as this transition can be psychologically, emotionally, physically and financially trying for you, it can affect those around you too. The last thing you is their general nagging to trigger nagging self-doubts.

Type a letter!

It doesn't matter if your co-workers have gotten wind of your intentions to move or even if you've discussed it with your boss beforehand, formalize your leaving with a letter of resignation.

Keep your letter short and sweet, stating nothing but the facts: I quit; it's nothing personal; time to move on; I love you all; good luck; good-bye!

Don't overstay your welcome

Giving two weeks' notice is the norm, but your employer may prefer you just pack up and leave immediately.

Anticipating this, discreetly remove your precious stuff beforehand. But remember -- don't assume it belongs to you even if no one else would want it. That photo of you standing beside Richard Nixon at the 1972 company convention -- is it really yours? And if no one else wants it, why do you?

Don't falter

It would be nice to think your leaving would bring tears to everyone's eyes or that you'll get a counteroffer with pleas to stay.  Stand firm. There are 101 reasons to avoid emotional blackmail and day-late-dollar-short inducements although you only need one: 

You are not the intended beneficiary.
Remember, you're moving on for a reason. If you want to be reasonable, keep going.

Don't blow off responsibilities

You may have obligations that survive your walking out the door. Do you know what they are?

If you didn't give thought to how you would maintain professional contact with clients or vendors, or friendly relations with others you are connected to through the employer, do it now.

If you have a non-compete or other limitations, be clear as to what those things are and do the right thing.

Get your affairs in order

Making plans for your financial wellbeing and safety are often glossed over in the job-transition clamor.

As most employers have a wait period before benefits kick in you should be making sure that you and your loved ones will be covered in the interim.

Things to check into include COBRA for healthcare and how to best handle your 401k and other rollovers.

As for accrued sick days and PTO...kiss them good-bye!

Stick to the facts

Not everyone will be privy to your business, nor should they be. 

In the absence of accurate information about the whys and wherefores of your leaving, busy-bodies and know-it-alls will fill in the blanks with gossip and half-baked assumptions.

Sharing the facts in your resignation letter should be enough to silence the chatty-mouths.  Besides, they'll have forgotten your name the week after you're gone so don't sweat it.

Leave gracefully

Some employers have a formal exit interview process, some do not. Either way, make yourself available to share anything higher-ups might find helpful for creating a better workplace and keeping your soon-to-be ex-co-workers engaged.

Keep your comments and criticisms constructive. As long as you are there you are being "employed." Act accordingly. You found the exit, there is no need to be shown the door.

Get endorsements…

The exit interview is as good a time as any to get a letter of recommendation which might come in handy for your next transition.

If nothing else, framed, letters of commendation work better than an 8x10 of you standing alongside a dead president.

...from everyone you know!

If you have a LinkedIn or similar online profile make sure co-workers, clients and your boss post an endorsement to your profile.

Make it easy for everyone to do that by drafting something and suggest they use that as a guide. This approach may save them time and you embarrassment.

Keep your chin up, head down

With only a week or two to go now is the time to work hard, not slack off. As well as enhancing your reputation, making an extra effort to facilitate a smooth transition is also a responsibility, even if you may be harboring negative feelings about the place.

Besides, when you start the new job, you'll be working at full throttle so consider this your training for that intensified activity.

We'll miss you...Not!

If you are leaving an unhealthy work environment a few people may resent being left behind.

While most decent people will manage those feelings appropriately some may take this opportunity to do you harm, most likely with some form of passive-aggressive behavior designed to "expose you."

Your best defense is to take cover. Walk the straight and narrow, tow the company line.

Countdown blues

Resist the temptation to count down the days, hours and minutes before you finally walk away. Nothing slows time down like watching the clock.

When that happens everything becomes a drag, including you.

Your approach should be upbeat and engaging. Do your best to make this a fun time. After all, time flies when you're enjoying yourself. Isn't that the idea?

Hand it over

Most people are so busy at work that they tend to forget things. Affected by the ravages of time not remembering where we left this or that can become a real problem. So, one last time:

Don't forget to turn over your keys, your name badge, company computer and/or phone or anything else you've grown so attached to that you almost forgot...they are not yours anymore!

Time to say goodbye

Make sure you make the rounds and personally talk to the people who have shared their lives with you for however long you've been working together.

As appropriate, exchange gifts and tokens of appreciation and remember these golden rules: a) If you give for one you should give for all and; b) never re-gift on-the-job!

It's OK to be antisocial

Maintaining connections on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can be fine and dandy until an ex-boss wants to be your "friend," or someone who you've detested for years wants to "poke" you.


As you say your farewells, politely explain that you do not accept invites to connect on social networks. Your real friends will not only understand, they'll re-tweet it for you.

The light at the end of the tunnel

In the last part of our series we'll look at the final stages of your job-search transition as you settle in to your new job and make everything right with the world...at last!

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