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5 ways to leave a job with dignity in any circumstance

Leave a job with grace

Fed-up flight attendant Steven Slater didn’t exactly leave his job with grace in 2010. He quit JetBlue℠ by erupting in a four-letter tirade in public, then dramatically exiting the airplane via its emergency chute. His antics made him into an instant hero on Facebook®. Notoriety may not be the best course when it comes to leaving your job, though. If you’re facing resignation, termination or even “it’s not personal” downsizing, show you’re an adult and use these five strategies to maintain your professional reputation on your way out the door:

1. Be positive in all communication.

“If you don’t want to burn your bridges, always leave in a very positive state,” says Anthony L. Di Gaetano, MAOM, an instructor in the MBA program and area chair at the University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus. Communicate respect for your former employers regardless of your dissatisfaction. All it takes is one slip to a new boss or a wayward comment on social media to compromise your credibility in your industry, as well as future job references, he adds.  

2. Offer to help with the transition.

Show you’re a good sport by using your final time on the job to volunteer for additional tasks. Investing yourself in new, short-term projects demonstrates your professionalism to potential references, Di Gaetano says. He also advises using your last days to mend any broken relationships with colleagues — it’s a nice gesture to wish them well and offer to stay in touch. Also, provide your boss with constructive feedback about job improvements that may help your successor in the job.

3. Stick it out.

Never get so irate about the job or a pink slip that you walk off the job. “Finishing the day shows your professional commitment and dedication — no matter how negative a situation — and that is what will stick in co-workers’ minds about you,” Di Gaetano says. This includes transferring your work by wrapping up any assignments and offering supervisors or successors a courteous written or verbal account of incomplete tasks.

4. Make sure to say goodbye.

Even if you’re fuming, show co-workers your appreciation for the valuable skills and experiences you did acquire on the job. Send thank-you notes to employers and a farewell email to your professional colleagues before you exit the building, Di Gaetano suggests.

5. Leave with a clean slate, and record any
relevant information about your experience.

Take the time to sit down with a corporate representative and review your human resources file to ensure there are no mistakes, such as an incorrect start date or salary. Then go ahead and update your resumé so that you can fill in any necessary details that may be more difficult to retrieve later.  

“Plot a course for your success by gathering information about your positive work history, such as awards, credentials and your marketable skills,” Di Gaetano says. “You’ll need all of it for your resumé.”


JetBlue is a registered service mark of JetBlue Airways Corp.
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