Moving on: How to leave your company the right way


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Have you ever had days where you dragged yourself to work? Or have you looked at your pay slip and felt like you’re just not earning what you deserve? If you have, then it’s time to pay close attention to your work life: These are just some of the many reasons for leaving a company.

Once the workplace honeymoon is over, it’s tempting to draft and file your resignation letter as soon as your shift ends. But leaving a company isn’t a single decision. It’s a process — one that requires much introspection and consultation.

Losing one’s spark

When you first joined the company, you might have signed on because the opportunity matched your expectations for responsibilities, work arrangements, or professional growth. At some point, however, you might have found that those expectations weren’t being met. For most, that’s due in large part to less than savory co-workers.

In her first job, Vivian* dreaded going to work because of one of her bosses. “I felt like we just didn’t work well [together]. Instead of getting inspired, I was more afraid of her which was affecting my work,” she said.

Over time, these issues could affect you so negatively that you become apathetic. Absences and tardiness cases pile up; tasks are done with mediocrity. Once an employee reaches this state of “brownout”, it becomes difficult for them to find joy in their jobs. No reason is enough for them to stay, always canceled out by justifications for quitting.

Every employee reaches the point where they want to move on to new prospects. While this may be a ubiquitous occurrence, it’s still something that must be approached with rationality and patience.

“Resigning is a big career decision,” said Gina Jusay, managing director at SFI Career Center. “So make sure that it’s really a wise decision, and make sure that it will benefit you.”

Make time to find some clarity.

“Brownout” is reason enough for most employees to leave. But some still teeter on the decision because they’re afraid of change. Career Coach Malou Treñas-Del Castillo says this fear can be overcome by a good action plan.

“Have information that makes it clear to you that you should resign… based on what is important to you, what you enjoy doing, and what you want long-term,” she said. After this process of discernment, you can start identifying which of these needs you would be willing to compromise (after all, no workplace is 100 percent perfect).

Danielle Cruz, career coach and counselor at SFI Career Center, says reaching out to friends and family could help in that introspection process. “[They can help] in giving not only moral support but also different perspectives,” Cruz said. “There might be things that you don’t see that others can.”

The end goal of this process isn’t to find peace with your current situation, but to arrive at some clarity as to why exactly you’re professionally dissatisfied. At the end of it, you may find that the reasons for leaving stay, but the anxieties around quitting go away.

Live in the present.

Once you’ve formalized your resignation, your last 30 days could go in a blink of an eye. To keep a happy and proactive mindset, try using Martin Seligman’s PERMA Model:

  • Positive emotion – Stay optimistic about your future and remind yourself constantly of everything that you’re grateful for. This is good not only for your mental well-being but also for your physical health.
  • Engagement – Maintaining a state of flow keeps a person satisfied and motivated, something that may have been lost due to busyness with work. Recover your flow by doing activities that you’ve long wanted to do or that make you happy.
  • Relationships – You may have missed out on some reunions because you were too busy with work. Use this time to genuinely reconnect with friends and family.
  • Meaning – Instead of dwelling too much on the negativity that drove you to resign, focus on the good things that you got out of them. For example, if your boss wasn’t a very good mentor, acknowledge that this may have helped you to become more independent.
  • Accomplishments – It takes guts to quit a job, so be proud of your bravery and celebrate it. A gesture as simple as treating yourself to your favorite food not only makes you feel good about yourself but also helps you look forward to the next chapter of your career.

Of course, anticipating the future doesn’t mean that you should forget the present. Ensure that you turnover properly in your last days as an employee of the organization. Fulfill last requests from your supervisor, organize necessary documents, and fill out the necessary paperwork for a smooth transition.

The relationships that you’ve formed are just as important. Maintain your close friendships, promise to keep in touch with stakeholders, and keep things civil even with colleagues that you may have clashed with in the past. “We think that we move in a big world, but when it comes to the professional world… it’s really small. That’s why it’s not good to burn bridges because in the future, we might get to work with those people again,” said Cruz.

Find the next thing.

The work doesn’t stop after you’ve cleared your desk– at least when it comes to your career. No doubt you’ve already been casually searching the job market well before you left. But now it’s time to hunt in earnest.

Check multiple job-finding platforms to ensure a wide selection of options; not all employers are present on every website. You can also ask across the professional connections that you’ve formed through the years.

Use this time as well to learn more about your craft. Accomplishing certified online courses, for instance, can boost both your skillset and your CV.

“If you perceive your vacant period would be much longer, employers will ask what you did during that time,” said Richard Monteverde, career coach and counselor at SFI Career Center. “It would be good to justify that you accomplished something. It shows your initiative and dedication to the profession.”

Leaving a job may seem daunting. You may be frozen by the fear of uncertainty, or guilted by the workload you’re leaving behind. But at the end of the day, an ill fit hurts everyone in the workplace, not just you. Find clarity by taking inventory of your priorities. Cut cleanly and amicably. And let your passions move you forward and upward to the next thing.

Editor’s Note: Some names changed for privacy.