This is a guest post by Vanessa Merit Nornberg, owner of Inc 500 Company, Metal Mafia.
If you are reading this article, chances are, you consider yourself unhappy in your current position. You have started searching for a new job, and you came to jobtrakr.com to discover what’s out there. That’s all well and good, but as you begin your search, don’t forget to devote some effort to your exit strategy as well.
Tell the truth about your departure. Once you have made the decision that you really want to leave, let your employer know. This does not mean to wait until you have found something else, because by then it will be too late. Tell your current employer when you start your search, and ask how you can make sure your departure will not harm the company. Being honest with your employer will give him the chance either to do what it takes to convince you to stay (like increasing your salary or changing your duties), or to openly search for your replacement while allowing you to move on to something new. In both scenarios, you win.
Don’t engage in trash talking. If you are leaving the company out of frustration or anger, don’t air your discontent at the water cooler. Chances are, your employer will hear about it and you will make other employees uncomfortable. Keep your feelings to yourself and exit with class, so your employer does not decide to either speed up your exit or deny you the good recommendation you will need for the new position you are seeking.
Show your integrity by respecting your engagement. As long as you are still employed at the company you intend to leave, give your responsibilities your full attention. You have probably spent a long time carefully building your credibility—don’t blow it by behaving differently in the last days before your departure. The worst damage you can do to your reputation is to neglect your duties when you know you are on your way out. Word has a funny way of getting around.
Facilitate a smooth transition. In the weeks leading up to your departure, make sure to organize your projects and duties in such a way that your successor will easily be able to take over for you. This is not only crucial to leaving the company on good terms, but also important for the customers you may be leaving behind. You never know when your paths may cross again.
Ask for an exit interview. Whether you are leaving a job you loved or one you hated, you should try to get the most from it. Schedule an exit interview with your employer, and ask honestly what he feels are your strengths and weaknesses. If you listen with an open mind, this information can be invaluable to you in your next job. Knowing what you are good at can help you spot opportunity, and understanding where you can improve can make you more successful as you move forward. Ask your employer if he would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation, which highlights your strengths. Keep a file of these letters to show future employers.
Taking the high road when you leave an employer—regardless of your reason for leaving—is always in your best interest.
In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. Fluent in Spanish and French (as well as English), Vanessa has also worked abroad in communications and business development in the video game and jewelry industries.