The Professional Exit

Premierehire Executive search and leadership strategies

You’ve accepted an offer of employment and you’re excited to move forward with your career. But before you can, it’s important to make a professional exit from your current employer. Maintaining positive relationships with former colleagues and employers is vital to a successful career. You never know who might become an important connection in the future.

Here are our tips on how you can leave on good terms:

Don’t Burn Bridges: As I mentioned earlier in the Networking section, you never know when a contact will become useful. You should always maintain a professional and friendly attitude towards everyone. Take down contact information for your colleagues before you leave and make the effort to stay in touch. They could become valuable references in the future.

Prepare a Resignation Letter: A pleasant, well- written resignation letter can go a long way to smoothing over a transition. Express your gratitude for the opportunity and thank your supervisor for their support. Compliment the company and your colleagues but make sure to refer to how this decision helps you move forward with your career aspirations. Then give them the standard two weeks’ notice and indicate your last day.

Offer to Train Your Replacement: You know your duties better than anyone. When you leave, your supervisor and colleagues will have to pick up the slack and teach a new team member. Offering to train a replacement takes that weight off them and they will remember you fondly for it.

Prepare a Transition Plan: Training a replacement is great, but preparing a transition document as well is even better. You will undoubtedly be offloading a lot of information on your replacement. If the replacement remembers every process and step you take to complete your tasks, it will be a miracle. So take some time to write up a guide to your duties so they can refer to it after you’re gone and avoid bothering your colleagues.

Contact HR: Make sure to find out from your HR department what your grace period and continuation provisions are.

Thank Everyone: Let your supervisor and colleagues know in person how much you enjoyed working with them. Regardless of the truth behind the words, it is a professional approach to the situation and will mean your colleagues remember you in a positive light. Bringing tasty snacks to sooth the blow, doesn’t hurt either!

Don’t Gloat: You may be excited about your new position but don’t gloat to your colleagues about your future prospects. You want them to understand and not resent that this is a positive step forwards for you. Giving the impression that you’re dying to get out of the door, won’t endear you to anyone.

Work Hard: Work as hard on your last day as you did on your first. It is vital that you maintain a professional demeanor and get the job done. When you leave, you want your colleagues to remember you as an asset rather than the person who spent their last two weeks on the job slacking off and giving them more work.

The Counteroffer Conundrum

Once you’ve handed in your resignation, your current employer may try and tempt you to stay. A raise or promotion can sound enticing – why make the effort to move else- where when you can get what you want right here? – but these offers rarely address the issues which made you want to move on in the first place.

These following points will help you evaluate your counteroffer:

Take Stock: Think about why you started to look elsewhere for employment (lack of a challenging work environment, weak compensation package, lack of positive career growth etc.). Then consider what your current employer is offering you. Does it really address the reasons why you began to look elsewhere?

Questions of Salary: If your current employer is offering a salary raise, it’s important to consider why they suddenly consider you more valuable. If they have the budget, why wasn’t it offered earlier? It may simply be the raise you were entitled to anyway at your next employment review or they may simply consider it cheaper to tempt you back with a salary increase than to train someone new. Worse still, they may just be buying time until a replacement can be found and you can be fired. Ultimately, none of these reasons are positive.

Questions of Perception: The cat is already out of the bag. Your supervisor and colleagues are aware you planned to move on to another company, possibly even a competitor. If you choose to stay, this sense of betrayal can linger among your co-workers, impeding your chances of promotion and good teamwork in the future. Not to mention, if the company experiences a downturn, you may find yourself the first on the chopping block for your perceived disloyalty.

Questions of Commitment: Accepting a counteroffer after already committing to a new employer, will damage your chances of receiving an offer in the future. Not only have you proven yourself untrustworthy, but you’ve also negatively impacted your prospective employer, your recruiter and anyone else who has helped you secure the new position by wasting their time and resources. People talk and word will probably get around.

Stand Firm: There were reasons you chose to move on from your current employer and it is doubtful their counteroffer will really address those issues. Stand firm and graciously decline the counteroffer. You have a bright future ahead with your new company.

The Author

Leanne Abraham helps leaders and teams reach higher levels of performance. She supports leadership teams as an executive team coach, facilitator, trainer, and advisor.

She and her team also help organizations find and retain the right people through her 4 Phase Executive Search and New Leader Integration Solutions.

Leanne is a certified executive coach and team coach (EMCC); is a certified coach for Birkman Leadership and Career Assessments, has completed training with the Adizes Institute, Tony Robbins coaching, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Global Team Coaching Institute (GTCI).

Leanne serves clients throughout the US and Canada, ranging in size and industry.

On a personal note, Leanne is an avid reader, aspiring author, student of servant leadership, mother of 2, and loves hockey and skiing. She is expanding her career coaching program to provide support to executives wanting to move up or transition and she recently completed her team coaching practicum under David Clutterbuck and GTCI.

If you are looking to elevate your team, your leadership, or your career, please contact Leanne at or book a no charge consult.

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