Normally, our posts are primarily centered around getting and keeping jobs, but in a slightly unorthodox twist, we’re going to talk today about what to do when the skies AREN’T so sunny. What happens when you and your job have had a good run, but now it’s time for a break? Unlike other breakups, you don’t ask for your favorite hoodie back, say “it’s not you, it’s me,” and move on your merry way. Leaving a job- whether it is voluntary or involuntary- is a complicated issue that requires a mature and calm reaction.

It is simply a fact of life that people will outgrow their jobs from time to time, or vice versa. It’s important to remember that these situations happen to everyone for a variety of reasons, and life will go on. There is, however, a right and a wrong way to leave your job. One way could result in burned bridges and hostile relationships, and the other could end in solid references or even a job again in the future. Regardless, as a professional, it is important to respond professionally as well.

Below are some tips from a USA Today article on the best way to handle leaving your job.

How to leave a job properly

There’s one thing we are probably going to face in our working lives: quitting a job or being fired from a job. Of course, most of us would prefer to leave under our own terms, but being fired doesn’t carry the stigma it once did, especially as an increasing number of the nation’s top CEOs find themselves in that position these days. Still, leaving a job for any reason is more than simply walking out the door, with perhaps a rude gesture or two depending on the circumstances.
When you part company with an employer, how you leave may be just as important as anything you have done in that position. It is the lasting memory management and co-workers will have of you, and says much about your professional character and personal integrity.
For example, if you resign from a position, ruthlessly squash the urge to gloat — to bosses or peers.
The business world is too small for you to tell the annoying co-worker just how much you won’t miss him or her, and it will only hurt you in the long run to tell the boss to take a hike. Not only does being unkind to those in your workplace show a lack of professionalism, but it may offend others who hear about it.
Networking is key to career success, and getting a reputation of being petty and small is not a good thing. Mouthing off at any boss could come back to haunt you in professional business ventures.
If you are fired, resisting the urge to tell someone off is going to be tough. But withstand the temptation. Corporate America is full of stories about those who were canned, only to be lured back later for more money.
As difficult as it may be, try to leave on good terms with as many people as possible. It will be awkward for some people, but keep in touch with co-workers and management members who have a favorable impression of you. They can serve as valuable references in the future, and your “class” in such a situation may inspire them to help you find another job.
When leaving a job, for any reason, there are some things to consider, including:
  • Doing your research. Read your employee handbook to find out what benefits and compensation you are entitled to have upon your departure. If you’ve been fired, also read the handbook to find out what benefits you may still be entitled to, such as COBRA. That way, you’re not engaged in a screaming match with a boss in front of everyone on your last day, and can set up the procedure to collect any back pay.
  • Filling your address book. Don’t leave without getting as many names, addresses and phone numbers as you can. You want to keep in touch with peers, bosses, clients, suppliers, etc. This is one of the most valuable things you can walk away with: future business contacts. You may have to make the first or second efforts to keep in touch, but keep a calendar of when you last spoke with someone and be consistent.
  • Keeping explanations simple. If you decide to resign, it was for better opportunities. A resignation letter should simply state you are leaving and when. Give as much notice as possible, as this gives another good impression before you leave.
If you’ve been fired, you probably won’t get a chance to do more than pack your bag, but try to take time to contact people later. If you flounder for a better way to say you’ve been canned, say “we decided it was time to pursue other opportunities, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Keep in mind that Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Lee Iacocca and Walt Disney were all fired at one time.