making a graceful
career exit

Play Video

So often, I see leaders obsess about their first 90 days in their new roles, but discount how important it is to make a graceful career exit. I’ve made a few mistakes in my past that I hope you’ll learn from!


Consider your timing

While there can be many moving parts in a career transition, as much as possible, choose your timing wisely which creates a win-win situation for both you and your past employer. It would be especially ideal if you have in line a succession plan to ensure current responsibilities do not fall through the cracks, which may jeopardize your track record.

Reach out to your supervisor: an opportunity to build options

While we often think we’ve come to the end of the road, don’t discount a final option of reaching out to your supervisor to discuss past performance, and future aspirations. Outline what you’ve achieved, what you’ve learned and what you’ve helped other people learn since your last review. And discuss where things haven’t gone well and how you’ve adjusted to make a compromised situation better.

It’s a fifty-fifty chance that your supervisor will be able to help you realize your goals with the company you’re already working for, even if you think you’ve exhausted your possibilities.If there really isn’t a way to realize your goals within the team or the company, ask for recommendations. Keeping you in the extended fold is a good thing for your supervisor; ask her “What do you think my next best step would be?”


Finish Strong-Tie Things Up in a Bow Before You Give Notice

Nothing leaves a better final impression than a strong finish.  Your final days are not the time to shut down and tune out.  Not slacking off shows your colleagues that you truly care about minimizing the impact that your resignation will have on the team.  Share information with your colleagues about clients and projects and provide documentation of any useful processes that may help your predecessor.  Aim for making it as easy as possible for someone to pick up where you leave off: from indexing work-in-progress items, to sending out an email status update.

Don’t Be Stupid

Don’t be penny wise but pound foolish – don’t be the person who costs your new company time or money because you were stupid in exiting your previous job. Every time your name is searched on the Internet, your bad behavior will come up, and it can be hard, and often costly, to suppress.

  • Do maintain your regular hours at work – and to the best of your ability even though you’re on your way out
  • Don’t wipe your computer of any company documents


What People Will Remember About You

What’s important to keep in mind is that people will remember how you left, regardless of a positive or negative climate in the organization.

It’s that memory that will help determine the way further opportunities come to you from former colleagues who either stay with that company or go elsewhere.