On the Job

Plan Your Exit Strategy Wisely

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, November 9, 2007; 5:30 PM

It's not etched in stone how much notification you have to give before quitting a job. So how much time is reasonable and what consideration should you give your soon-to-be-former employer? That's what this worker wants to know.

I have a new job offer and am wondering how I can leave my current job under good conditions. I plan to retire from my current job and relocate. My current employer has been known to become vindictive when they find out that you've found other employment. I would not have a problem with giving two weeks' notice, but I know they will make life difficult for me. I feel I have no choice but to give a 24-hour notice. Is this OK?

"Never burn a bridge," he advises. "If you leave in 24-hours with no transition, they can make your life miserable."

Gray wonders exactly how much more miserable the current firm could make this worker's life. The two-week standard should suffice, he suggests.

In some states, Gray notes, quitting abruptly could cancel out any payment you may have received for accrued vacation time. Despite this worker's plans to relocate and move on to another firm, he should keep in mind, Gray advises, that it's not uncommon for workers to return to a former company later down the road. Leaving under the proposed circumstances, would obviously ruin any chance of that.

A better path to take, Gray mentions, is to "offer a smooth transition." In the resignation letter, thank the soon-to-be former employer for the time you've spent there. Also, let them know that the new job is simply an opportunity you felt was in line with your future career goals.

"Offer to help train anyone," he suggests. "Tell them what top priorities you were working on and who would be best suited to take them on. Give them your cell number and say you'd be glad to answer calls for awhile after you leave, if someone needs some help finding a file or something else."

Additionally, Gray says that at least for the moment, this worker shouldn't worry that his company has a history of contentious departures.

If they choose to act unethically, that doesn't mean the worker has to, he advises. If the unfair treatment continues after a few days, however, then that the worker has a reason to quit abruptly.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

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