When Leaving a Company: How to Say Goodbye Gracefully

When Leaving a Company, knowing how to say goodbye gracefully is important. What are the do’s and don’ts of an exit interview?

When leaving a company, leave them with a smiling

When Leaving a Company, there are things to do and things not to do.

Using these techniques will reduce the stress for you and avoid burning bridges with the company you are leaving.  First, here are some things to do when you leaving a company.

Do prepare for the things to do in an exit interview.

Despite what some headhunters will tell when they are preparing you to leave your current company, there are benefits to attending and even excelling in the way you handle your exit interview.

Before resigning, weigh the pros and cons of leaving your current company.

Once you are committed to leaving, give the company two weeks’ notice.  Two weeks’ notice is common courtesy.  You owe your company no more.

Also, before you resign, remove your personal property from your workplace and download or delete your personal files from the company computers.  You do not want to run into your company holding your property until someone gets around to doing an inventory of what belongs to you and what belong to your employer.

Do prepare to return company property.

When you go into an exit interview, bring the company property to the interview: e.g., keys to a company car, company laptop, mobile phone, etc.  Since you have already recovered all your property, put the burden on your employer to give you an inventory of any other property they believe that you need to return.  You may not have to offer to turn over the property during the exit interview.  However, having it on hand will make things simpler if your company decides to walk you out the door.

Do prepare for questions that you have about compensation and benefits you receive when leaving. 

Prepare for to discuss compensation due you upon leaving the company: unpaid vacation time, unpaid bonuses, and unpaid salary.  Your company should explain to you what money you have coming and when they will pay you.

Know the questions you need answering in transitioning or continuing your health benefits after you leave the company.

“COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end.  Department of Labor (http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm)”

As you will discover from the DOL website, your employer owes you information on the way that your benefits extend beyond your employment.

Using these techniques will reduce the stress for you and avoid burning bridges with the company you are leaving.  First, here are some things to do when you leaving a company.

Do be positive but firm in your resignation.

Politely explain that it is time for you to move on.  Thank your employers for the support they have given you.  Ask for your employer’s’ direction about how you can transition your material and responsibilities smoothly and promptly.

When Leaving a Company, avoid some things.

There are things not to do in an exit interview to make sure that you leave on good terms.  Somewhere down the road, you may find that the company you are leaving will help you with a strong reference in seeking another job.  Avoiding these things will make you exit go more smoothly.

Don’t discuss counter offers.  

One of the purposes of an exit interview is to prevent losing employees who are critical to the company at the time.  I emphasize “at the time,” because people known for disloyalty have a mark against them in future evaluations and layoffs.  Counter offers can drag out the length of the exit interview, perhaps into days.  Counter offers just increase the stress in your exit interview.  As I have written elsewhere, they are offers that are too good to accept.

Don’t make the exit interview a gripe session.

If you are unhappy with the people or practices of the company you are leaving, an exit interview is not the time to express them.  The time to express your concerns is before you start looking for another job and you can still make a difference at your current employer.

Don’t discuss your new job.

Don’t say where you are going to work or how much money your new employer is paying.  Avoid giving any details about the function of the new job or your capacity in the new job.  The information about your new job is confidential information between you and your new employer.

Don’t be rude or disrespectful.

Whether you are going through an exit interview with your supervisor or an HR person does not matter.  Remember that the person who is conducting the interview is simply doing a job.  They are not your whipping child.  They are human beings you may or may not like.  However, being rude or disrespectful will not help you garner respect from people who may read or hear about the interviewer’s experience with you.

As I said in the first paragraph, somewhere down the road, you may need the people involved in your exit interview to help you find your next job.

Are You in the Wrong Job?

If You Feel Unappreciated, You Might Be in the Wrong Job.

If you feel unappreciated, are you in the wrong job?  By unappreciated, I mean that you experience these things.

  1. Your turn has come up for promotion, but the promotion goes to your peers or perhaps people who have come into your company and moved past you.
  2. Your company brings in management from the outside for jobs that should have.
  3. Your peers repeatedly get credit for the work you are doing.
  4. Your boss takes credit for your work.
  5. Your pay raise is smaller than the pay raises everyone else gets.
  6. Everything people say about you is negative.
  7. No one asks you to join in at breaks or after work.
  8. You believe that nothing you do makes a difference.
  9. You feel like an outsider.

What to Do When You Feel Unappreciated

Determine the cause of your problem.

Are you doing the things to deserve praise and promotions?  If you are not doing what you should be doing, get busy.  Correct your mistakes.  Eliminate under performance.

Is Your Boss the Reason You Feel Unappreciated?

In an article titled “Are you appreciated at work?” in SFGate, Kim Thompson wrote,

“If you asked the majority of employees the reasons for leaving a good job you might hear comments that involve a lack of appreciation rather than compensation.  Resigning from a job may sound like an impulsive choice.  However, according to a Gallup poll, at least 75 percent of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.”

Is your boss the reason you feel unappreciated?  Can you work with your boss to makes changes?  If not, you can consider your options outside your current company.

Steps to a Job Change

  1. Prepare your resume.  Make it factual.  Use a bullet format.  Highlight your accomplishments.
  2. Build a contact list for your job change.
  3. Expand your network.
  4. Set up a specific job-change email address that includes your name.
  5. Turn to your friends outside the company for referrals and references.
  6. If you have a friend working where you would like to work, ask that person for help in getting an interview.
  7. Find companies that are hiring for the job that you want.
  8. Build relationships with people in the company and ask them to help you get an interview.

Find a place where you can do meaningful work with people who will reward you and appreciate your efforts.

Don’t get stuck in a job where you feel unappreciated.  Get another job!

Photo: Sadie Hart/Flickr

What Do You Do When There are No Jobs?

Image: Rocky Raybell

What do you do when there are no jobs?  Change the way you do your job hunting.

One way to find out if a company is hiring is to ask them.  Instead of looking for job listings, look for companies who hire people with your skills.  When looking for companies that hire people with your skills, you are taking advantage of the fact that many companies do not use recruiters or advertise their jobs.  They rely on internal referrals and online or walk-in applications.  Some of these companies allow you to apply anytime.  If they do not have an opening, they will call you when they see a need that matches your experience.

Buy a franchise.  When my wife and I moved our family from Texas to California, we hired a professional moving company. The person in charge of the move was a retired Navy captain who owned a moving franchise of a national moving line.

When you buy a franchise, your new company has the products, advertising, and brand recognition of an established business.  Entrepreneur.com lists the top 500 franchises.

Imitate a franchise.  Another approach to starting a business when there are no jobs is to imitate the franchises.  You face some challenges.  You have to find sources for products.  You have to decide what equipment is best for your business.  You have to build brand awareness.  The positives are that you do not have the restrictions of limiting your business to the guidelines of a franchise.  Starbucks and west-coast sensation In-N-Out Burger are two companies that have created quality products by not having to comply to franchise guidelines.

Buy a franchise and break the mold. The greatest success story of a person breaking out of the franchise mold is that of Sam Walton.  He started with a Ben Franklin variety store franchise. Then he ran his store based on the business model of the most successful mass merchant at the time, KMart. Instead of buying from the franchise suppliers, he found from cheaper suppliers and passed the savings on to his customers.

Buy an established business.  With baby boomers nearing retirement, you can find businesses that will disappear if no one buys them.  If you see a business that looks attractive to you, state your interest in buying the business.  If you are a novice, you will want to get guidance.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has information on all aspects of starting, financing, and running a business.

If you have the business experience and financing, you might have a lot of fun.  The late Edwin H. Shutt Jr., who was CEO of Clorox and later Tambrands, became interested in the ownership of a BMW dealership when he was taking his car in for repairs.  A veteran of acquisitions at Clorox and Tambrands, he bought the dealership.

Create a new business.  Do you have a service or a product that you love and that helps other people?  Get busy selling your service or products.

Become a broker.  There are several ways to become a broker.  You can contract with manufacturers to sell their products for them.  You can become an agent on eBay or Craigslist by connecting suppliers with buyers.  The advantage of brokering is that you do not have the cost of inventory and manufacturing.

Become a contractor or third-party service company.  With economic downturns, jobs for some skills drop dramatically.  Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other construction workers have a difficult time during slow construction periods.  However, some companies hire construction workers for maintenance and ongoing projects.  The point is to use your vision to picture what companies need to hire people with your skills and apply for work with those companies.

Is Making a Job Change Your Best Choice?

Duty Calls

Is Making a Job Change Your Best Choice? Are you in the wrong job?  Here are some signs that you might be.

  1. Every day is a bad day.
  2. You feel that you cannot do your job.
  3. You do not like your boss.
  4. You work around people you do not like.
  5. Have you outgrown your job and cannot get greater responsibility to match your increased skills.
  6. Your company in trouble or your company is firing people.
  7. Your commute is too far or too expensive.
  8. You are underpaid.

Some of these problems you can work around or try to ignore.  Some of these problems can change over time.   If you spend the time making your current job better instead of spending that time on a job change, you may find staying in your current job helps you several ways.
Changing jobs is often a case of jumping from one rut to another.  You find the same problems in your new workplace that you tried to escape in your previous job. Changing jobs in this case would be a huge mistake, especially if you are walking away from accumulated benefits and tenure.

Are you mentally prepared to search for a new job? A job change is certainly a lot of work. It takes planning, time, effort, and money.   There are risks of losing your current job while you are looking for a new job. All these factors are stressful.

Once you get a new job, are you mentally ready to commit 100% to doing a great job at your next company? Starting a new job is full of changes.  You will face new routines. You will meet new people.  You will develop new relationships.  You will find a new culture. You will need to adapt to a new routine and culture.  You may need to learn new skills.  You will have a new boss to impress and understand.

Here are some things you can do to help you turn your current job better.

Man Stressed Sitting on a Bed


If ever day seems like a bad day and you feel that you cannot do your job, you may have job burnout.

  1. Change your routine.
  2. Take more breaks.
  3. Do not take your work with you to coffee or lunch.
  4. Leave your work at your workplace.
  5. Do not work on your weekends.
  6. Take vacations.
  7. Learn methods to relieve stress and develop a positive attitude.

If you do not like your boss or your coworkers, you are not alone.  During college jobs, the military, and my career in consumer products, I had 12 bosses.  I would like to work for only two of these bosses again.  I never quit a job over my boss.  When I did change jobs, I left for a better job
If you have outgrown your job and cannot get greater responsibility to match your increased skills, you may want to consider a job change.  You should work where the things you do are meaningful and fulfilling.  In looking for a new job, look for opportunities that will enable you to use your skills and allow you to continue to grow greater skills.

If your company is firing people, your commute is too far or too expensive, or if you cannot make enough money, you should consider looking for jobs that will help you become financially secure.  As you begin your search, bear in mind the benefits that you have in your current job.  Make sure that you are not gaining in salary and going down in total compensation.

Image: Mic445, Mic445

The Blinding Power of Security


  1. Sometimes recognizing that your cheese is no longer in the same place is a challenge.  It is easy to know that opportunity no longer exist with a company when the company has closed its doors at a place where you had a nice steady job.  The company goes out of business.  You have no place to go to work, because there is no company.  It is time to go look for opportunity somewhere else.Security can blind company employees.  Locked in with benefits built over time, people will stay until the company closes its door and turns off the lights.  Unless there is a sizeable severance package, the time to find another job is before the company shuts down.

    The challenge becomes more difficult when you are in the ebb and flow of business where you have surges of great success and then tremendous declines.  Entertainers and professional athletes sometimes find that their careers soar to high levels, stay there for years, and then all the opportunity disappears.  They may find themselves on a very high platform where they have made a great deal of money, and no skills that can give them another job.

    Success can create a mirage of more success in the distance.  It is very easy to live high with tremendous amounts of money.  Easy research shows that highly successful entertainers and athletes become some of the leading tax deadbeats.  The mirage of success blinded them from seeing the risk to their career future.

    The shifting United States economy has left many companies out of business.  Many companies have outsourced their work to other countries.  Companies have consolidated.  Other companies have disappeared.  This process is not new and it is never-ending.  Print media and brick and mortar stores have disappeared.

    Seeing the changes coming sometimes is impossible.  I once spoke with a woman whose husband owned a grocery store chain.  She said that she felt secure, because people always ate.  Later a major national chain bought out another local retailer in the same market and ran discounts prices that drove put the woman’s family stores out of business.

    To find happiness and success, the simple principle is to stay loose and flexible.  Change can happen before you see it happening.  The important thing is to accept change as part of life.

    1. Let go of the situations that you cannot control.
    2. Move on to a new business.
    3. Develop new skills.
    4. Be realistic about what you can do.
    5. Be easy on yourself.  Some things are beyond your control.

Image Original: Joi Ito/Flickr