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, 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.