Giving Notice — With Style

 In Career Advice

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You’ve just accepted a job offer, but ugh… the dreaded conversation about quitting that you need to have with your current employer.

How to do this right?

Plan: First, tell your supervisor before your colleagues — and definitely before telling anyone above your boss. Schedule a meeting for same day: let your supervisor know it’s urgent. Think about your message ahead of time. Write down notes if it’ll help!

Sandwich: Craft your goodbye message “sandwich-style” for best delivery: 1) delicious compliment, 2) I’m leaving, 3) delicious compliment. For example: “You’re one of the best supervisors I could have asked for, and I’ve learned a ton from you. However, the time has come for me to move on. I’ve accepted another offer. It’s a bittersweet goodbye; I have only positive feelings about you and the team. It’s been a great ride!”

Be firm: Let your supervisor know that you’ve accepted another offer and that it’s a final decision. You don’t want your boss to jump through hoops trying to line up a counter-offer when there is nothing that could convince you to stay.

Be positive: You’re bursting with excitement for your new job, but put that aside for now. Take the time to reminisce how you felt when you first joined your current company and team. Relive that a bit in your exit interview. Thank your boss for all the guidance, good times, and career progress that brought you to this point.

Pick 1 reason: If people ask why you’re leaving, pick just one reason. No need for a laundry list of all the things that drove you away. And, if you want to be careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings, express that one reason indirectly. Do this by pointing to what attracted you out, not what drove you out. For example, instead of, “This job bores me to tears,” say, “I’ve really enjoyed my time here, but I decided I want the experience of working at a smaller, faster moving company.” Or, “I learned a lot here, but it’s time for me to take on a bigger challenge.”

Keep it short: Your boss might be in shock if you haven’t previously expressed a desire to leave. State what you need to (and remember the “one reason” rule above), but don’t expect a response right away. Let them think through what they’re going to do about your exit.

Collaborate on a plan: Reassure your boss or supervisor that you’ll work with them to hand off your projects and leave everything in a good place. Ask your boss to think about the plan for notifying the team and to let you know. You can tell them your preference, but let them make the call.

Close positively: For this type of meeting, you’ll want to practice and memorize the last thing you will say in the meeting. End the meeting on a positive and helpful note by saying something like, “Please let me know what you need from me after you have some time to think about it. I look forward to working through my exit plan with you.”

See — there was no reason to be nervous about giving notice. You’ll deliver this message with dignity and poise. Go for it!

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