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Do’s And Don’ts Before You Quit Your Job

Do’s And Don’ts Before You Quit Your Job

Would quitting your current job make you feel more relieved than anything else? If the answer is yes, it’s probably time to quit. Here’s how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Before You Quit, Can You Work It Out?

Remember why you first took this job? You needed it for income, yes, but I’ll bet there were other reasons as well. Perhaps your job is in a field that you love, or it involves tasks that you are really, really good at. Perhaps you really like your coworkers or your boss or your clients, or you might even just dig that lunch hangout around the corner. If you quit your job, you’ll be leaving behind all of these good things as well as the bad, so it’s worth taking some time to figure out whether you can iron out the things that aren’t working for you before you take the plunge.

  • If your job is interfering with family responsibilities, or the commute is taking up too much of your time and energy, try exploring alternative work options like flextime, job sharing, or telecommuting.
  • If you aren’t getting along with a coworker or your boss, see if you can find a way to improve or avoid these relationships by, say, asking for a transfer or setting up some mediation.
  • If you didn’t do so hot on your performance review, put your foot on your emotional clutch for a moment and ask yourself honestly whether or not the review was accurate. If it was, do your best to improve the areas you need to improve. If it wasn’t, talk with the reviewer and try to clear up any misunderstandings.
  • If you don’t like the new policies your employer put into effect, first determine whether it’s your own resistance to change that’s to blame for your unhappiness. If you genuinely think that the new policies are bad for the company, come up with a clear rationale and some solutions, and bring these up to the appropriate people.
  • Finally, if you have tried everything you can think of, and you’re still not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, ask yourself again: Would leaving your current job make you feel more relieved than anything else? If the answer is still yes, it’s probably time to look for other work.

Give Notice After You Have Another Job

Don’t: Just quit your job without warning, that is unless: you are being physically abused or sexually harassed; you’re getting physically sick from stress-related insomnia, headaches, backaches, and the like; you haven’t been paid; your work environment is unsafe; or you are being asked to do something that is clearly unethical or illegal.

Do: Provide as much notice as possible if you decide to quit your job and the situation is not dire. Two weeks is standard, but be aware of your particular company’s policy.

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Don’t: Tell anyone that you’ve decided to resign before you have a signed agreement and official start date from your new employer. At best, you’ll look pretty stupid if your new job falls through. At worst, you could motivate your boss to fire you before you have a chance to quit your job again.

Do: Tell your supervisor before you tell your coworkers.

Be Professional

Don’t: Burn bridges through negativity. People don’t see the company acting out; they see you acting out. As tempting as it might be, flaming your boss on social media or in the lunch room, trying to sabotage the company, stealing clients or proprietary information, writing a rant in your resignation letter, deleting important files, or engaging in other unprofessional behavior only reflects badly on you. Why would someone else want to hire you if they suspect you might talk smack about them on Facebook or steal their stuff? Your reputation is the most precious thing you own; take good care of it.

Do: Focus on the positive experiences you’ve had with the company. Think about and talk about your favorite coworkers and clients, and the tasks that you loved. These are good vibes that you can take with you heading in to your new job.

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Don’t: Cause resentment by making your former employer or coworkers clean up after you or replace the things that you stole.

Do: Be nice to your future replacement; after all, they’re going to have to put up with what you’re leaving behind! Carefully organize all hard copy and electronic files so others can find important documents and information easily. Clean up your computer, and pay attention to details like e-mail and phone messages: who will handle them after you’re gone? Organize and write down the status of all projects and responsibilities that you are accountable for, including the appropriate contacts on each.

Don’t: Just mark time. Your boss and your coworkers will remember those late arrivals and early clock-offs, the extra-long lunch breaks, and an overall bad attitude.

Do: Take full advantage of this opportunity. The people you work with are going to be watching you like a hawk during your final days; how often in your life are you going to have such an attentive audience? Make your final “performance” one that will make you look good for years!

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The Exit Interview

Do: Briefly explain your reason for leaving. Simply saying that you’ve accepted another job that is more in line with your career goals is enough.

Don’t: Offer too much detail about the new position or your decision to leave. The less you say, the less can be used as leverage against you.

Do: Think about what you’ll do if you receive a counter offer, but be gracious if you are going to decline it.

Don’t: Forget why you’ve decided to quit your job. Many who accept a counter offer wind up with a resignation letter in hand again a year later.

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The Transition

Don’t: Offer to rewrite the whole procedures manual, take on new projects, or otherwise pave the way toward becoming an unlimited, free and future resource to your former employer. You’re going to be on a steep learning curve in your new job, and you’ll need your energy to focus on that. Two or three phone calls or emails should be enough to help your employer or replacement make the transition. If you’re getting the sense that your old employer is having trouble letting go of you, try slowing down your response time to their queries, which will force them to either wait for you or find their own solutions. Alternatively, you could offer your services as a paid consultant.

Do: Try your best to ensure that everyone succeeds after you’re gone. Let your employer or the new hire know they can contact you—within reason—if there are any lingering questions. Review your employee handbook; agree to help hire or train someone for the position in your remaining time on the job; follow through on any final agreements; answer questions and offer feedback to subordinates; and remember to acknowledge those you worked with before you leave.

Best of luck in your transition, and may your new job be everything that you’ve ever dreamed of!

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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