fresh tulips arranged on old wooden backgroun

Winter is over! The weather is breaking! There is hope!

It’s springtime and bonus season, which means that people are quitting their jobs and heading for greener pastures. So let’s say you want to quit your job without burning any bridges. How do you do it?

Nobody likes a quitter. Even if you have a great relationship with your colleagues, they will probably have seriously mixed emotions about your departure. What? Are you not happy? Are they not good enough? You think you can do better? Probably best to tamp down your enthusiasm for the new job until you start the new job.

Give two weeks. Be ready to work that third week. There is no logical reason the two-week notice continues to exist. I’ve done my research, and the best I can gather is that it’s a holdover from post-WWII personnel policies that were then applied to 1960s-style management practices. Give two weeks. I know you might want an in-between week to take a staycation and get stuff done before you start your new job. Be willing to “work from home” or sit in on meetings during the third week.

Have a transition plan when you resign, but don’t give the farm away. There are probably 3-5 things you need to wrap up. Have a plan in your head that sums up those items, communicate those items verbally, but never write those items down. If someone else wants to write a plan down, that’s fine. Verbally acknowledge it, but don’t sign anything. A formal transition plan can bind you well beyond two weeks. If you don’t meet your commitments, you also look like a failure.

Finally, remember that most people blame the dead when things go wrong. When you leave, you’ll be a convenient scapegoat who can’t defend herself when things go wrong.

Give it a month. Let everybody dig into your files, read your old email, and complain that your transition plan wasn’t comprehensive enough. Then re-engage with your former colleagues, if you like, to see if any real friendships exist. At that point, you might want to do something nice and write a LinkedIn recommendation for a few people you admired at your old organization.

But most importantly, move on. You have a new job, man. It’s awesome. All upside. And nothing good comes from excessive rumination.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve always wondered about the “two week rule.” Even if you give 2 weeks, it’s more a courtesy “I’m leaving, get used to it” situation than anything else.

    People panic and you wind up doing MORE work in those two weeks than any other time because folks realize that don’t really understand your role or how to do it.

    I work hard not to burn bridges, and have gone out of my way (within reason) at all jobs to ensure as smooth a transition as possible and it’s paid off. All my former managers are also referrals, and you can’t buy that kind of support. But I admit to a little satisfaction when I hear through the grapevine that things are chaotic after I’ve left. Makes me feel validated, lol.

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