Work Ethics and Etiquette – Leaving Your Job Through the Front Door

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About a year ago, my friend (and former co-worker)Steve was having issues with a manager. He is -or used to be- prone to bursting into flames when he disliked the way he was talked to or when he felt that something was unfair. One August afternoon, he had enough with this supervisor, confronted him (maybe even using some expletives) and walked away from the facility, never to be seen again.

Unless you’ve already gotten another job, leaving your current one in a tempestuous manner surely won’t help you in your quest to find a new job. Employers usually perform reference checks on candidates so If Steve applied for a job in a different company or decided to re-apply to the company where he quit, what do you think HR is going to say when inquired by the recruiter? That moment of “Wookie Rage” may condition your professional future for a long time. Diplomacy is mandatory.

This may be an extreme example of how not to end a job relationship. There are also grays.

Keeping your team on the loop

If you are transferring to another department  make sure your boss and teammates know beforehand about your intentions to leave (same rule applies when migrating to a different organization). Big companies have migrated to online recruiting platforms. Internal applications are now usually handled through the company’s portal or intranet which have automated notification services that inform the person’s direct supervisor when an employee is exploring new opportunities. And let me tell you, I (nor, I think, anyone) appreciates finding out that someone is leaving the team through an automated notification. Sadly, It happens a lot. People will find out you are planning to leave sooner or later. It’d rather be sooner.

Letting your boss  know you are leaving does not mean that he or she will start looking for ways to fire you if you don’t get the job you are now applying for. On the contrary, it will give the company time to find someone to fill your spot and make an orderly transition. In the case you don’t get the job… well, they get to keep you for a bit longer.

What you get from it

Letting those around you know about your plans can bring a wealth of benefits for you. When I left my last job I made sure everyone knew -before I applied for the new one, even knowing that it wasn’t sure I would get it- my intentions and the reasons I was leaving. When I was finally given  confirmation that I was accepted in my new position, I got not one, but 2 farewell parties (with cakes and everything), more than 30 cards (including a Gift Card: thank you Nurse Jan!!!)  and the director of the program offered me her help, give references or advice if I ever run into problems or needed something in my new job. She didn’t have to do it, but she did it anyways. My former direct supervisor? We go sailing together every other week (or when our schedules permit).

The second possibility is that you could be tempted to stay either through a promotion or raise. If you don’t say anything about your departure, this will never happen.

Sneaking behind everyone’s back is bad work ethics, poor teamwork and a way to be remembered in an unfavorable light. This is specially important in today’s hyper-connected world.  Some people fear what his/her boss may say or do if they applied for another job so they choose to keep it under the carpet until the “right moment to say it“. Usually that right moment is often  known as too late. I’m sure there are a myriad of other possible reasons why people don’t notify their superiors or co-workers but I sincerely don’t know them. If you do, I’d love to know.


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by Fernando Tarnogol

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