Graceful Exits: How to Successfully Jump from One Job to Another
While a quick change in jobs can look bad on your resume, and may not bode well with current and prospective employers, doing it professionally makes it less disconcerting
Moving from one company to another at some point is like a way of life for many professionals. While Millennials (and even younger) are reputed to have greater tendencies to transfer jobs, more experienced workers have also made (and still make) jumps to different companies. Although those new to the workforce tend to receive some lee-way because many of them are assumed to still be figuring out their career paths, that’s usually where the consideration ends, and “job-hopping” remains generally scoffed at within most industries.
This is because most recruiters and companies simply prefer not to spend too much of their time and resources hiring and training employees. Employees of which end up staying for only a handful of months to a year or two, then leave the company and have it have to repeat the costly hiring process.
However, moving from one job another sometimes simply can’t be helped, and whether you are a millennial still establishing your footing in the working world, or an experienced professional simply trying to do what is best for you, keep in mind that if you really have to jump to another job, you can still do so with a degree of grace and professionalism.
First, Don’t Make it All About Money
Job-hopping is typically defined as holding a position for two years or less, is taken by some as an easy path to a higher salary, and is somewhat acceptable when driven by extreme need. Otherwise, it can be perceived, negatively of course, as just greed. Coupled with this could also be the perception that you can’t be relied on, and the two are not ideal impressions to leave ex-employers and those to work for in the future.
In an article posted on NBC.com, Washington D.C.-based licensed professional counsellor and certified career counsellor Karen Chopra shares that salary alone is not a reason to keep moving. “Employers look at short stints and say to themselves, ‘I’m spending a lot of time recruiting, and you seem unlikely to stay here for more than 18 months. I should keep looking for someone who’s more stable.” Indeed, while some “mercenaries” may be good enough to fill an immediate role, they never stay long enough to fill the void.
Along with affecting your chances for future employment, jumping to another job often can also affect the supposed good reason to do it: a new job at a higher salary. J.T O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work It Daily, explains in the same article how making a change only if motivated by the potential for growth and pursuit of passion trumps doing so only over the pay. “If you keep jumping for money but don’t explore your passions, you’re going to end up dissatisfied. Eventually, you’re going to hit a plateau where you’re overpriced for the market, but won’t have built a track record of results throughout your career, so no one’s going to want you.”
Instead leaving to just get higher salaries, or to escape a negative situations, O’Donnell advises center your jump on questions like “What do I care about?” or “What problems do I want to solve?” By understanding what you want, and being honest when relaying this information with your current employer, they will in turn be better understanding of your reasons for eventually leaving. Plus, you avoid having to talk your way out of a counter-offer, or looking foolish when you end up accepting it.
Second, Determine Your “Story” and Know Who to Share it With
Questions will indeed arise once you’ve sent word that you intend to leave, making it important to think through how you’ll explain your departure to your manager and colleagues. Whether your reasons are the need for higher pay and better benefits, professional growth, relocating with your family, or anything else, what’s important is to maintain a story which is consistent.
Then you have to consider who hears your story it first. While you might feel like telling your colleagues whom you consider confidants, it’s best reach out to the person you are directly reporting to first. This helps avoid their having to hear the news second-hand, or worse, in the form of a rumor, and outright simply more professional. Additionally, it is important to keep the reasons you share positive.
According to an article by Susan M. Heathfield, HR and management consultant ,and co-owner of software developer TechSmith Corp., there is nothing to lose by keeping things in a good light. “You have nothing to gain by burning bridges, and everything to gain by leaving under good circumstances. The same holds true for Human Resources and your resignation letter. Be positive and brief about why you are resigning and write your letter in a professional and straightforward matter.” By taking this route, you won’t be perceived as a possible malcontent merely jumping ship, and your manager and colleagues may be even more accommodating towards your move.
Then Serve Proper Notice, But Also Say Thanks
Speaking of being accommodating, you can also be helpful to your employer from your end, starting with at least following the typical resignation process. Start by formalizing your resignation with an official resignation letter, which can also serve as a short thank you note that gives you the chance to express your gratitude for having had the opportunity to work with your company.
Lisa Quast, author of the award-winning book Your Career, Your Way!, shares that while dropping off or emailing the letter is easier, resigning in person is still best. “Quit in person and bring your resignation letter with you. It’s always best and most respectful if you resign in person and can provide closure. But if your boss works in a different geographic location, make a telephone appointment and then follow up with a brief email, attaching your resignation letter.”
Quast adds to take it up a notch and notify and thank others outside of your direct supervisor and team. “Meet individually with mentors and sponsors within the company. Beyond your own department, if you have mentors or anyone within the company who has acted as your sponsor, quickly schedule time to let them know you’re leaving and why.” Being able to schedule your last day also allows you the opportunity to thank everyone again via a final email.
Now Don’t Just Wait for Your Last Day
Serving proper notice expectedly means not going AWOL. Granted, you may have only been at the job for a short time and may find it easier to just disappear, but doing so could leave your boss or colleagues inundated with unfinished work that could also remain unaddressed because your employer did not have time to look for your replacement. Two-weeks’ notice is a global norm, although 30-days’ is what’s typical for companies in the Philippines. However, if your role comes with complicated responsibilities and isn’t easy to replace or is a managerial position, or if your employer’s process is simply different, be ready to possibly have to serve longer notice.
No matter the timeframe, don’t just wait it out until last day. There’s a reason why most who resign are required to serve notice in the first place. Apart from giving your employer the aforementioned opportunity to find your replacement, this could also be the time to help train that successor and ease the transfer of your responsibilities. Even when a replacement isn’t hired, there may also be someone who will temporarily fulfil your role, and whether your employer takes you up on it or not, it is still best to offer as much of your assistance to ease the transition.
That said, there’s no telling how your employer will deal with your sudden departure, although their past behavior when others have resigned can serve as a reasonable indication. Should there be a chance that your employer tells you that you don’t need to serve notice and you leave immediately instead, then its best to be ready much earlier, such as when it’s still only you who knows you’ll be leaving. Organize all of your work so that your projects and tasks are left complete or at least easy to sift through for your successor. Also prepare any of your company-issued effects such as laptops, business cards, car keys, and the like for an easy return.
Remain Graceful Until the End
While it is natural to feel withdrawn since you’re eventually leaving, it is still important to continue being professional until you actually go. Among the best ways to leave a good impression is to remain business as usual, and help ensure that a smooth transition is indeed what occurs all the way until your walk out the door. Also, as your job may deal with sensitive client information, or you might just happen to be moving to a competitor, don’t be surprised if there is as strict process for your departure. Security personnel might be tasked to accompany you as your gather your personal belongings and as you leave the premises.
In line with your last day, you’ll likely be asked to participate in an exit interview. Don’t hesitate to speak at this time, but make sure it’s to provide output helpful to your employer, and don’t use to only vent out your frustrations with your employer. After all, any issues you may have had should’ve been aired while you were still working there, where there still could’ve been something done about it.
“Speaking as a former hiring manager and employer, don’t be afraid if you’re asked into an exit interview” Lisa Quat shares. “It’s usually HR personnel who conduct the exit interviews with the purpose of uncovering areas where the company can improve or identifying when there may be issues with a specific manager.”
Finally, don’t forget to update all your contacts. This means ensuring that any clients your may have worked with are reminded that you will no longer be affiliated with the company, and providing them a new point of contact among your colleagues. This also means updating all your social media channels to indicate you have left, saving you and and the your employer the inconvenience of being contacted regarding each other. As you serve your resignation notice, also take the opportunity to exchange contact information with your boss and colleagues, both to offer needed assistance for even after you’ve left and to also leave the door open for future employment or recommendation, or to simply maintain good personal and professional relationships with them.