So you have a job offer from another company and are ready to leave your existing role. You want to know how to leave your job without burning the social capital you’ve built up over time. What do you do?
First, relax. Having that first conversation with your manager is usually nerve wracking, but everything will be okay. Switching jobs is expected, and chances are that your manager has been on both sides of the table before. Follow these guidelines below and you’ll be on your way to your new gig in no time.
1. Give Minimum Two Weeks Notice
Unless your employment contract specifies otherwise (read it if you aren’t sure!) it is customary to give your employer notice a minimum of two weeks before you actually leave. This gives them time to make preparations for a transition and get a job search going if needed.
Your employer might ask you to wait longer than two weeks. Unless your contract specifies otherwise, you are under no obligation to stay longer than the notice you gave. That said, depending on your role, what you are working on, and what else is going on at the company, there may be cases where staying longer than two weeks can keep the company out of a bind and win you a lot of social capital. At my previous job, I opted to stay on for a month in order to complete an open client project that was on a tight schedule.
Consider your options, relax, and have a discussion with your manager. Give verbal notice first and then follow it up afterward with a written email notice.
2. Make a list of your responsibilities
Before you give your notice, make a list of your current responsibilities and take it with you when you meet with your manager. This will give your manager a good understanding of what kinds of transition plans need to be made. If there is someone else on the team who you think would be a good fit for taking over any of these responsibilities, a make a note of that as well.
3. Handle open projects
Are there any ongoing projects you are working on that won’t be completed by the time you are set to leave? Make sure to notify everyone involved about the transition plan and the timeline impact after you’ve given notice and worked out a plan with your manager.
4. Document your processes
During the transition period, document your processes as much as possible. Make sure that every task you are handing off is documented, and that both your manager and replacement have access to the process. My preferred method is making screen recordings while I walk through the process in real-time and narrate what I’m doing.
5. Bonus: Help find a replacement
If you know that the company is going to hire someone to fill your role, help search for a replacement. If you already have a few people in mind (either internal promotions or new hires), send a list to your manager with reasons why they’d be a good fit. Offer to help interview if time allows.
6. On counter offers
I don’t accept counter offers. This one is personal preference. If you’ve made the decision to leave and are excited about a new opportunity, don’t let a pay increase get in the way of that. It may pacify you for six months, but your existing discontents will grow as time passes and you’ll always think about the missed opportunity. Take the leap and don’t look back. Job excitement and room for growth are more important than salary when you are early in your career.
7. How much time should you take between jobs?
I recommend taking at least a week off between jobs so that you can relax, get some work done around the house, move if you need to, and have a clear mental break between the two jobs. There is no hard and fast rule, but here are a few things to consider:
- Can you financially afford to take time off?
- Will delaying your start at the new job signal you aren’t excited and cost you social capital?
- Do you have anything to do (such as move) that would hurt your performance in the first week at your new job if you tried to handle them at the same time?