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Buh-bye! How to Quit a Job with Class and Style

Did you see White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest give the Obama administration's last White House press briefing yesterday?

Earnest took a few minutes to talk about the job, and to thank his co-workers. Then his boss, President Obama, came forward to offer a few kind remarks, as well.

The whole thing got me thinking about how to leave a job with grace, class and style. For many of us, quitting classy can be easier said than done. After all, we're quitting for a good reason, right? Why should we care what our (soon-to-be-ex) co-workers think of us as we kick back and count down the minutes to greener pastures?

Because how we leave a job is just as important as how we start one, if not more so!

We've all had that bad day at work where we would love to be Joanna in Office Space quitting our job loudly with flair, but it's generally not a great idea to stomp our way out of the workplace and leave our co-workers holding our steaming plate of loose ends. For better or worse, our former co-workers (and managers) tend to remember being left in the lurch.

Luckily, quitting classy isn't very hard! Here are five basic tips for leaving a job in a way that creates a good last impression of you:

1. Don't slack off until the moment you leave. It's human nature to start slacking on the job as soon as we announce our exit, but don't let this happen! When you stop putting in any effort, your co-workers will remember you that way. You were a good co-worker, until you stopped trying right before you left. Don't be this employee. Think of your continued effort and interest in your current job as some smart, strategic HR/PR for yourself. You will be remembered as a hard worker, which is exactly how you want to be remembered.


2. Offer your colleagues a kind word. Take the time to compliment your closest co-workers. Tell them something you've always admired about them. "I've always appreciated how you _____." The positive feedback we receive from our work peers tends to resonate the deepest, and your kind words will always be remembered because they were so unexpected. Just make sure it's a genuine compliment.


3. Thank your boss for the opportunity. Before you leave, make sure to thank your boss for the opportunity, even if your boss is the reason you're leaving. We learn new skills and life lessons from every job. What skill did you ultimately learn at this job that has made you a better employee? If you can't think of anything, simply say "thanks" for the opportunity. You never know when your paths might cross again, so go out with good manners. It can be a small world out there.


4. Leave your work area neat and clean. Leave your work area ready for the next person to move into it. Clean out drawers, quickly wipe down your desk. If you want to go the extra mile, you might leave a note that offers the lay of the land (e.g., the invoices are filed in the lower right cabinet, etc.). Basically, don't leave your desk looking like it's fallen into foreclosure.


5. Don't talk too much about your new job. You're excited to move on IN THREE DAYS and you want to shout it to the hilltops! But not at work, where it might come off as careless bragging. If a co-worker says, "Only three more days for you, you must be so excited!" you can simply say, "Yeah, but there's a lot to do before I leave." Downplay it, then circle back to the work at hand. Keep your mind focused on your current workplace first. It's only for a few more days! Revisit Tip #1 as often as necessary until you're out the door for good.


Bottom line: Never underestimate the power of a stellar last impression on the job! A last impression is key to coming off as an accomplished professional, but it's amazing how many employees can flub their job exit in myriad ways. But not you! Good job keeping it classy like a boss. Oh, and congratulations on your new job!


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