What NOT To Do When Leaving A Job

I had a conversation with my best friend recently who witnessed a very bizarre job resignation. I am still slack-jawed over what she told me as it hit every mark in what not  to do when turning in your resignation if you ever wish to have a positive recommendation, or possibly return in the future. Leaving a job does require some careful planning.

I have had a job that after finding the grass wasn’t greener I sought to return to a previous employer. Had I not followed some very important steps, I would have never been able to walk in and sit down with my former employer to discuss the possibility of returning.  It was several months before a position that suited was available, but I was rehired. If I had just burned the bridge, it would not have happened.

I have been around the block, a few times, and think that the rules of the past are even more important today. Good old fashioned consideration is a good thing. Unemployment is down and it is becoming easier to find new jobs as the market is not as competitive. Businesses are starting to have to compete to get good loyal employees rather than the other way around.

Do not allow that to make you over confident. The market and jobs can turn on a dime and a former employer may be someone who’s door you need to knock on again one day. I am normally not a ‘how to’ writer, but I thought these were some pretty important tips.

Do NOT give less than two weeks notice.

Leaving a business and/or co-workers in a lurch by leaving a good employer without notice is a big no no. Allowing a business to get the new hire ball rolling is only fair. Also, being upfront in interviews with your new employer as to your timeline is impressive. If you need a bit more time because of a big project or the end of the quarter panic a new employer will see that as a positive in hiring you. They know you need time to transition and will respect a new hire that finishes a job well.

There is an exception to the rule. If you’ve seen your company escort employees right out the door once they give their resignation, don’t give any more notice than two weeks. Your giving notice from a place of knowing it won’t matter is simply good form. In this case, it’s best to prepare yourself well in advance by tying up loose ends  before making your announcement.

Do NOT tell your co-workers before you tell your boss.

If the boss finds out through the inevitable gossip line or at the water cooler, they will not be pleased when you sit down with them and let them know your plans.

When you sit down be prepared to explain your reasons for leaving, money, commute, better benefits, a new title may be something your current employer may want to negotiate with you and fight to keep you. Being respectful and honest could bring about a counter offer that you may wish to consider. Only you can decide that, but being gracious and forthright will make this conversation easier.

Do NOT use PTO during your final weeks.

Yes this happened. The young lady mentioned at the start of this post said that during her two weeks she was using the two days of PTO (paid time off) she had accrued to go work at her new employer. Those final weeks should be dedicated to creating as smooth a transition as possible for your old employer.

Finishing any and all work. Cleaning up your desk, helping train a new hire. Most companies will give you your accrued PTO post your leaving. Others may say it is okay to leave prior to the end of the notice and let you use your PTO for the remaining days.

Announcing you will be using it and how you intend to use it is quite simply a NO. This will leave a lasting negative impression as well as a few notes in your personnel file that may come back to haunt you should you seek a reference in the future.

Do NOT ask for a pay raise after you have given notice.

Yeah, this happened too. This young lady expected a salary review and retroactive pay raise AFTER she gave notice that she was leaving.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 

Performance reviews are not a guarantee of a raise.  Also, just because you had a review on July 1st last year does not mean it will be the same day the following year.  There is no requirement that any increase need to be backdated to the previous years increase. That depends on the business.

Add to that requesting a raise AFTER an announcement of resignation and you just must be on crack. Enough said.

Do NOT brag about your new job.

Some co-workers may ask questions about your departure and it is okay to answer them. Just don’t gloat. Keep your income and benefits of your new position to yourself and keep the topic on the surface.

So, no matter how happy you are about your new job, you can’t show it. First of all, no one likes a bragger (especially if they think the  current work environment is equivalent to a chain gang in 100 degree heat). Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use this employer as a reference in the future. Do you really want your boss to remember you doing the Moonwalk down the hallway out of sheer giddiness on your last week? Probably not.

Do NOT discuss your old employer (or new) on social media.

Keeping your job off social media is just good common sense. Unfortunately, I see too many young people posting even directly from their job onto their Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat accounts too many things that I would fire them for if I new about them. Looking bored at work may mean an employer has too many employees and you are just tipping them off that they really don’t need you. Leaving work life off of social media is simply smart. If you can’t help yourself, keep it positive.

Leave your job off of social media.If you post your new job information before letting your old employer know and you have friends that are co-workers, this can lead to a whole other problem that leads back to one of my earlier do NOTS. Don’t put it past a co-worker to show something you post to your boss. You never know who your friends and enemies really are.

Criticism of old employers can also keep you from any benefit of an old employer in the future. Social media can be an employer’s best gossipy friend and the employee’s worst enemy. Being smart and keeping work and personal life separate is just … smart.

Do you have any experiences with a co-worker that has left in a manner unbecoming of them? Are you an employer and can you share any nightmare stories of former employees exits? I want to know.

Reinventing Julie - a blog for the middle age empty nesters



About Julie Mason

Julie is a nearly fifty year old almost empty nester. Life is interesting, ever changing, fun, infuriating, and Julie wishes to share it with you all. She hopes to learn along the way as well and write about anything and everything that strikes her fancy.

24 thoughts on “What NOT To Do When Leaving A Job

  1. Sounds like very practical advice that esp. the young need to learn about work ethics and use of social media. Talking bad about your old Job gives a bad view of you to your new workmates. I would steer clear of you…Good points Julie!

  2. I used to be a job recruiter and if I’d read this blog back then, I’d hand it out to EVERY candidate! This is so true, so important and honestly? Half common sense and half COURTESY. I’m not surprised there are people out there who don’t know this stuff but they really should!

    1. Sadly they weren’t. Thought they should receive retroactive review even though review was not yet scheduled. Right.

  3. [ Smiles ] Oh, I am guilty as charged. In the past, I went on to new jobs without informing the old employer two weeks in advance.

    From experience, the employers always do their best to talk me out of leaving the job.

    Splendid blog post and great advice!

  4. I have seen so many bad resignations – it is funny how common sense doesn’t kick in when leaving a job! You will likely run into those people again at some point, and word does travel fast. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow! I can’t believe some of these actually happened! These are great pieces of advice. Some of them seem like common sense, so it’s always startling to realize that it’s apparently not common sense at all. All the more reason why posts like this are important!

  6. Great tips, and I couldn’t agree more! Plus, you never know if you may end up working at a different job with the same people again! Always best to act professionally no matter the circumstances!

  7. These tips are reasonable and I think every well educated individual will use them, because they are obvious and respectful.

    It’s the first time when I come upon an article like this! Nice read!

  8. So true, all of it. I know so many people who tell their co-workers before they tell their boss, and my goodness it ends up getting ugly. Thanks for sharing these tips, love them all.

  9. Wow, these are great tips and they seem to me to be common sense, but obviously some people need to learn a thing or two about working “in the real world,” ha! Eek!

  10. I love this post! It really gets it so right! I hate it when people leave their jobs and then bad-mouth their old employers all over Facebook. I just don’t think it’s professional or adult-like.

  11. Most of these would seem like common sense. I can’t believe someone did all of these things. Asking for a pay raise after giving a notice??? Seriously who does that? These are great tips and spot on for anyone leaving their current job.

  12. One other thing, don’t talk bad about your old job and people in your new job and especially during the interview process.

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