Leave a good impression with past employers

Dear Working Wise: I work for a small local print shop and I’ve accepted a better job with a competitor. There are a number of print shops in town, but it’s a small industry and so I don’t want to burn my bridges

Dear Working Wise: I work for a small local print shop and I’ve accepted a better job with a competitor. There are a number of print shops in town, but it’s a small industry and so I don’t want to burn my bridges.

How can I leave my current employer and still maintain a good relationship with them? — Moving On

Dear Moving On: You are absolutely right to be concerned about not burning bridges. No matter how big a community or industry you work in, you never know how your past work relationships may help or hurt you in the future.

Your current employer may be disappointed that you are leaving, but they know that most employees change jobs from time to time. The average person changes jobs six to seven times during their career.

In fact, the best bosses are proud to see their staff move on to bigger and better things, because they have played an active role in your learning and development. But no matter what kind of boss you have, you can earn their gratitude and respect by acting professionally and making your departure as easy as possible for them. Your boss will probably remember your last few weeks with the company more than your last few years, so make them count.

Create a positive lasting impression

• Give as much notice as you can. Check your contract or your company’s HR policies for what the minimum notice is. If in doubt, try to give at least two weeks notice.

• Tell your supervisor in person before you tell your co-workers. Use this one-on-one with your boss to thank them for the opportunity and for everything you have learned.

• Keep what you say positive and professional — you don’t need to explain your reasons in detail, but you should be ready to explain why you are leaving.

• Write a letter of resignation.

Resignation letters

• Be brief and professional. Stick to the facts and don’t include a detailed explanation of why you are leaving.

• nclude the date, name of the person you are sending it to, the position you are resigning from, and when your last day of work will be.

• Be positive and polite even if you didn’t enjoy working for the organization; don’t use your resignation letter to air your discontent.

• Sign your letter and keep a copy for your records.

Other ways to leave a lasting good impression

• Continue your good work habits.

• Prepare a work plan for your supervisor including: projects you will complete before you leave, the status of any ongoing projects, and written instructions for the person who replaces you.

• Offer to help look for and orient your replacement (if appropriate).

• Make yourself available. Your last few weeks on the job are not the best time to use up your vacation days.

• Clean your workspace and tidy up your files. Ensure important files or project work is labeled and easy to find. Pack up any personal items and return company property such as keys or supplies.

• If asked to participate in an exit interview, the rules stay the same — keep it positive and factual.

Resigning in a professional and considerate way will help preserve your positive relationships with your current supervisor and co-workers. It also helps protect your reputation amongst industry insiders and increases the chances that you can ask your former supervisor for a positive job reference the next time you decide to move on.

Good luck in your new job!

Working Wise is compiled weekly by Charles Strachey, a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work-related questions can be sent to him at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Working Wise is provided for general information only. Help with specific situations is available through Alberta Employment Standards by calling 1-877-427-3731.

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