Lessons I Learned From Leaving My Job

Recently, I landed a new job. I knew the grind of networking, interviews, and follow-ups was going to be demanding, but what I didn’t see coming was the hardest part of the new job process: quitting my current role.

For those who don’t know me, let me give you some context. My former employer gave me my professional roots. I started as an intern at nineteen years old and over the next seven years, I accumulated all of my career achievements so far at this company. As you can imagine, I had mixed feelings ranging from nervous to excited. I appreciated my prior company for all of the time and energy they put into my development, but I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take this next step in my career.

I eagerly accepted my new role and then realized what was next: I had to quit my current job, which is something I have never done before. I wanted to be grateful and professional in my approach, so I conducted some research and asked for advice along the way. Here are a few things I learned through my experience.

Just because quitting is a normal part of a career jump, it still doesn’t make it easy. I felt guilty about leaving my job, especially since my manager had invested so much effort into my growth over the years. But I ultimately learned my first lesson: you have to do what is best for you. This should carry the most weight in your decision making process.

A second key step is to manage the communication around quitting your job. I read this in numerous articles. Make sure your manager is the first to know. They shouldn’t hear about your decision indirectly. I was excited to tell a few of my close friends at work about the new opportunity, but I wanted to make sure my manager heard first. I wanted to respect how she wanted to manage the news to the rest of my colleagues.

After I put in my two weeks, I knew I wasn’t exonerated from all of my responsibilities just yet. I received a lot of guidance around leaving on good terms. I knew the obvious advice that includes being professional in your approach and withstanding from negative comments during your departure, but more importantly, I knew that meant that I needed to finish strong. This was challenging. Once I accepted my offer, I was enthusiastic and eager to start with my new company, but I still needed to focus on the last few pages of my current chapter and avoid slacking off.

This meant leaving my team in a position to succeed. I cleaned my folders out, labeled important documents and organized them the best I could. I trained a replacement that was taking over a key responsibility of my job. I created workflows for reports I routinely get asked to complete. Sure, there are going to be a ton of gaps once you leave, but I learned that I needed to do my best to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Finally, the best piece of advice I received was to leave your company how you’d like to be remembered. There is no need to blast your employer, manager or colleagues while leaving no matter how much you want to (luckily for me, I had very little to complain about). 

Find time to express appreciation to those who mentored and guided you. I decided to write a letter to five people that meant the most to me while working there. Lastly, make plans and make sure to keep in touch with people that matter most to you. Just because you are moving on from an employer doesn’t mean you need to move on from the relationships you made there. If anything, this gives you an opportunity to expand the relationship outside of that environment.

The decision is never going to be easy. Moving on from somewhere that was so important to me was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had so far in my career. A piece of me would have loved to see what direction my career would have gone if I had stayed, but that’s the trade off. Don’t doubt your intuition. Take thoughtful chances. And on that note, I’m so excited for what’s ahead. More updates to come!

What advice do you have for those that want to quit like a professional? Comment below or share this article with your thoughts.

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Want to connect further about personal coaching, speaking opportunities or other engagements you think I could help you with? Connect with me or send me an email at justinleepeters5@gmail.com.

As always, thanks to my editor and partner Gaby Deimeke.

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