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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Graceful Exit

In previous articles, I wrote about seeking a raise and a promotion. So what happens when the situation at work become untenable? The answer may be to leave. Making the decision may be easy, but taking the decision can be very difficult.

In my experience and that of conventional wisdom, is that finding a new job is easier when you have a job. If you believe that quitting is in your future, start looking now while you have a steady paycheck and benefits. Additionally, while looking for a new job, you may discover that what you are really interested in can be found in a different division of your existing company.

Assuming that you have decided to leave and have accepted the offer for your next job, what do you do next? The answer, negotiate your exit. In some cases, you might have an educational reimbursement payment outstanding, or just have several days of vacation left over. What you should consider is that your leaving the company may benefit the company, so why not share in that benefit? Ask that your reimbursement debt be forgiven, or that you receive a payout of some or all of your remaining vacation. Be creative, maybe you just want your cell phone bill paid until the end of the year.

Once you have negotiated your exit, tie off all of your business loose ends, clean your work area, and say your polite goodbyes. It is also helpful to pass along your LinkedIn profile, as well as your gmail account. This is a small world and you will likely meet your colleagues again in different venues, it is best to do it on good terms.

Following the theme of leaving on good terms, the exit interview is not your soapbox to sound off on every bad corporate decision ever made, or how your boss is a jerk, or that Marketing can't find its way out of a paper bag. Rather, a simple and honest answer such as, "I wanted to explore new opportunities" satisfies the requirement of why you are leaving. Leave with dignity and pride, but also smile at the road ahead.

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