Here’s a riddle for the ages:
What do dying and going to the toilet have in common?
The sad truth about life is this: Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes we make mistakes right from the outset, and sometimes we outgrow a season of life. As much as we’d like things to stay the same, the only thing constant in life is change.
You may be 3 years into your job and you’re ready for a change of environment. Maybe the circumstances of your life has changed, and you find yourself newly married and with a child on the way. Maybe it’s not you, but it’s the company that has changed, and the friction is beginning to wear you down. Whatever the reason may be, there comes a point when the scale begins to tip the other way, and the reasons to leave outweigh the reasons to stay.
When that happens, it’s time to chart out your exit strategy. How to quit…professionally, gracefully and appropriately.
STEP ONE: The Serious Talk
Typically, a company issues up to three warning letters to an employee they are about to terminate. Luckily for you, Malaysia’s employment laws do not require the employee to provide the same for the employer; but it is still considered a good practice and a respectful gesture that you give a verbal notice to your immediate superior that you are planning to seek greener pastures.
Their reaction may be one of surprise, or they might have seen it coming and were already anticipating it. You may be asked to clarify your reasons for departure. When this happens, remember that you’re not actually required to give an answer if you don’t want to, but also know that it reflects better on you if you can give a diplomatic response.
This is also the part where you and your superior will figure out your final day of employment. Depending on your contract with the company and the number of annual leave days you have left, this day can be within weeks or months. When this meeting is concluded, shake your superior’s hand, and thank him/her for their time before leaving.
STEP TWO: The Written Notice
Now it’s time to make things official, or how they would say ‘in black and white’ – which is corporate-speak for “putting it down in writing”. This is the part where you draft a letter of resignation.
If the only letters you’ve ever written were for your primary and secondary school exam papers, don’t worry – you won’t be graded for this, and there isn’t a minimum word count you have to fulfill. In fact, most letters of resignation barely take up half a printed page.
There are ample examples available for your reference online, but do take note that these are the 3 main things to include:
- the statement that you will be resigning from your current position within the company
- your last day of work, which you had discussed with your superior in STEP ONE above
- a short note of appreciation for the company, generally thanking them for their time, patience, and understanding
STEP THREE: The Graceful Exit
As your final day with the company approaches, you may be tempted to get lazy with your remaining tasks. I mean, what are they gonna do, fire you?
Slow down. Deep breath. At this point, you may or may not be training your imminent replacement killer, and the last thing you want is to leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth before you finally eject yourself from the ship. If anything, work even harder than you’ve worked before – better for your ex-colleagues to say “I miss that guy” than “Good riddance!”
You may want to write a company or department-wide email of appreciation, or buy something as a token of remembrance. That’s all fine and well. When the workday ends on your final day, just pack your things, say your goodbyes, and go as you came in. No drama, no fireworks. None started by you, at the very least.
That’s all there is to it. The most important thing to remember as you go through these steps is this: Be professional. You may hate your manager’s guts and would like nothing more than to see the place go up in flames, but if you can’t do it for the sake basic human decency, do it for the sake of your career – no one likes an arsonist of bridges, and you may never know who might make a surprise reprise in your future.
An average employee stays with a company for a median of around 3 years, so you can expect to change jobs about ten times over the course of your career. This is a process you will want to get well acquainted with, almost as well acquainted as you are with the process of applying for a new job. As what the online gaming community would put it, “Git gud”.
In closing: Good luck, and Godspeed.