Leaving a job you love: “It’s not you, it’s me!”

Earlier this year I made the tough decision to move to a new job and it is safe to say that it is the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my career so far (but, let’s face it – I am 24 and still have a lot of working years ahead of me, therefore it is not such a bold statement.)

Anyway, during the time between being offered an interview up until I actually started at my new job I did a lot of worrying, had a lot of excitement and nerves, and I also tried to read as many blogs and articles as possible to find out how you are supposed to deal with moving from one job to another.

When do you resign? How do you resign? When do you tell your work colleagues? How do you prepare to leave your job and handover to somebody new?

The articles and blogs I read were 99.9% aimed at people who were unhappy with the job they were in, did not get along with their boss and were pretty much skipping towards the exit.

This was not the case for me – I enjoyed the job I was in, had a pretty good relationship with my boss and the other managers and was kind of sad (and nervous) to be moving on and leaving a whole heap of work that I had started to somebody else.

I was leaving so I could become better at the role I was in – it was genuinely a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ type of break-up. I felt I had given as much of my knowledge as possible, and felt that I needed to go and learn a bit more somewhere else.

A few months on (and loving my new job with no regrets), here is my advice…

  1. Give yourself lots of time to think about it and if on a good day at work you are still quite excited at the possibility of a new challenge somewhere else, then go for it.  (i.e. Never make any life changing decision after a bad day at work!)
  2. Tell your boss first and foremost, they deserve to hear it from you and not from anybody else. Also only tell them once you have had confirmation of your new role but at the soonest possible opportunity. They need time to prepare, just like you do.
  3. Do not say “it’s not you, it’s me” – that line is way too cheesy – but do thank them for the opportunity they have given you. Explain the reasons you want to move on, if they don’t understand then they don’t deserve you as an employee anyway!
  4. Follow up with your official resignation letter – don’t present it to them at the start of your conversation, or even worse email it before you have even spoken to them.
  5. Then tell your colleagues (in person if possible). I was only saying goodbye to around 22 different people which meant around the lunch table and a few phone calls to our more remote workers was not too difficult. The idea of a mass group email to people I had worked so closely with just felt wrong.
  6. THEN send a mass group email to your contacts externally – give them plenty of warning that you are moving on, an email address for yourself once you are gone and an idea of who their main contact will be in your absence.
  7. Make sure that you leave behind as much information for the next person to take on your role as possible. Take time to write everything up and explain why you have done things a certain way. Also make sure that your other colleagues know what you do (to be fair, this should be standard whether you are leaving or not.) Be prepared and open to sharing work that you have done, leave behind your ‘intellectual property’ so to speak, it is not really yours…
  8. Make yourself available after your leaving date – this could be leaving a mobile number if somebody needs to text you a follow up question or something. Usually about a password…
  9. If you don’t want to lose touch with your old colleagues then organise a time to meet them a few weeks after you start your new job, before you leave your old job. That way there is a date in the diary and you can feel more relaxed about not losing touch.
  10. Finally – don’t be scared to be excited about your new job! You may be sad about moving on, but don’t confuse this with regret. It’s an exciting opportunity, and if you really did love your old job, then you wouldn’t have chosen to move if it wasn’t!

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