How to leave your job on good terms

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 7 Jan 2016

With the New Year in full swing, it’s the prime time of year to look for a new job. Many of us will be on the lookout, but what gets forgotten is the importance of leaving your company on a positive note. It’s an increasingly small world we live in, where your contacts can be of prime importance to the progression of your career. A good reference from your previous boss can make or break a fresh job opportunity. Here we have some useful tips to make sure you leave your job on the best terms possible, even if your reasons for leaving aren’t so sweet.

Good terms


First of all, it’s important to know why you’re leaving. The reason for your departure will ultimately have a huge influence on how you leave the company. Whether you’ve been fired, made redundant or reached the end of your fixed-term contract, the way you leave a company holds great importance.

You might also be wondering why it’s important to leave a job on good terms, especially if you haven’t been treated fairly. Ultimately, leaving your job with your head held high can lead to more opportunities further down the line than if you leave on a sour note. As mentioned before, it’s an increasingly small world out there and if you’ve decided to move on in the same industry, you never know when you might need certain contacts again (or when you’ll run into them).

Be careful with colleagues

Your colleagues will be asking you why you’ve decided to leave, and what you’re moving on to do. Even though it might be tempting in some situations, do not badmouth your manager or your job to them. Word will spread and may get heard by the wrong people, so inadvertently you’ve just made life a little more difficult for yourself when it comes to leaving.

If you’re moving on to a better opportunity, don’t brag too much about this to your colleagues. They’ll be happy for you but they won’t necessarily want to know about your huge pay increase or easier commute time.

A good way to depart with your colleagues is via a mass email saying your farewells and thank yous. You can also provide your LinkedIn profile link in this email so colleagues can still contact you professionally.

The notice period is important

This sounds obvious, but make sure you fully work your notice period, as well as giving a decent amount of notice to your employer. Tell your boss that you’re leaving before telling anyone else!

Unless told otherwise, you wouldn’t expect your company to ask you to leave without giving you some notice first – so don’t do it to them. In some cases, you might have leftover holiday to take (which can be a good idea to take as it gives you a good break between jobs) but other than this, you need to work your full notice period.

Once you’re in your notice period, it doesn’t mean you should behave differently. You may be really excited about the prospect of leaving (which can lead to permanent ‘Friday feeling’ syndrome) but if you want your employer to give you a good reference, you need to continue to turn up on time and maintain your professionalism. After all, it takes years of hard work to get a good reputation, but only seconds to tarnish it. Don’t be tempted to indulge in being dramatic or hot-headed to your colleagues because you’ve been treated unfairly. You therefore won’t be remembered for being good at your job, but for throwing a tantrum when you left.


As usual, the best way to leave a good impression is by expressing good manners. Do you have a replacement already? Make sure you do your best to train them well. If you don’t have experience in training others, just give them helpful tips and hints that will enable the transition to work well for your company.

Don’t leave a mess! When you leave, check unnecessary files are shredded or disposed of, organisers have been sorted and any digital files have been sorted properly and are available for your department to access if need be. Don’t leave bits and bobs around your working space. All this will do is give people the impression that you’re lazy and untidy, as well as making extra work for the person who has to prepare your work area for the new recruit. In your new job, would you want to find your new workspace to be a total mess?

Take care that any projects you’ve undertaken are well and truly finished. If you can’t finish these tasks in your notice period, then make sure you give some good guidance for when you’ve left. Leaving your job with lots of tasks undone doesn’t give a good indication of your professional etiquette. Besides, if your replacement is to do a fairly different job to you, they don’t want to start their job with someone else’s old projects over their head.

Most of this advice is the obvious sort of stuff, but so many of us focus on how to get a new job that we don’t give much thought to the departing process in recruitment. The leaving process is just as important as the ‘landing a job’ process. Mainly because, exiting a job on bad terms can have an effect on how you manage to get a new one.

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