After months or even years seeking your next career challenge, that coveted change and maybe jumping on to your dream job, don’t fall for the temptation to stage a reckless departure or taking the chance to let out all those grudges that may have built over years with colleagues, bosses or direct reports. Instead, take the opportunity to quit with integrity, and as in many other parts of building your long-term reputation and character, play “the long game”: you will benefit very much in that marathon that is your career.
Before breaking this up, let’s state some obvious facts:
- Your network will have memory: If you are going to work in Finance in the long run, chances are your network will continue to grow on your current one, meaning that your current “nodes” will be in touch with the future ones. Or put into examples: your current bosses, colleagues and direct reports will be moving around and meeting people that will be important now or in the future
- How you quit is another reflection of your character
- An abrupt and impolite departure reflects bad on you, not on the firm you are leaving
How to do it correctly
- Notice: starting with the formality of it, be mindful of your contract and respect the minimum notice period, that is, let your employer know with at least the minimum anticipation as you agreed when joining (or when you were last promoted). Notice period can go from 2 weeks to months. Just make sure that you tell it directly to your direct supervisor, ideally in person, and with this timeframe in mind
- Performance: work at a 100% of your capacity until the very last day. This is critical. Do not fall for the temptation of “checking out” in advance; together with the unpleasant memory you can create if you depart suddenly and ungracefully, if after the announcement your supervisor or colleagues find out that you had been slacking or taking it easy because you were on your way out, your reputation will be tarnished.
- Farewell and a special kind of “thank you note”: make sure you say goodbye to everyone with whom you had established a relationship. Always leave on high ground. Don’t trash your current employer just because you are leaving for (supposedly) greener pastures; a lot of things can happen (like you coming back to the current company, your current employer acquiring your next employer, etc, or as said before, you willing to make your next move and meeting people you may have offended with a rude departure). And when you craft that farewell e-mail (a special variation of a thank you note), thank everyone for the opportunity and the learnings, make special emphasis on those specific mentors you had and make sure that you leave everyone with a good feeling about your time and experience as a team member
- Thinking of the future: make sure you leave contact details and are connected to your relevant co-workers on LinkedIn. Also, and most importantly, ask for recommendations and honest and brutal feedback upon leaving, from your mentors, or your colleagues and supervisors. As you leave and time passes, people will forget the interactions you had and you will have foregone a great chance to improve.
All experiences matter as you progress in your career; those that you leave on a high note and almost with regret, and those in which it seems that you never find the shiny happy moments and, looking in hindsight, they taught you some of or the most valuable lessons years into the future. I had both extremes and also experiences in between where not enough time had passed and were almost innocuous. But as stated in the first paragraph, this is about playing the Long Game, as Jocko always states in his books and podcasts. Keep it up and continue to do your best every day, to keep writing your story as a Finance professional.
Until the next time.