Sometimes, the time comes to leave a place.

Maybe you loved working there, but something better came up, or personal circumstances forced you into a career move. Maybe you hated working there, and wanted to take the first opportunity to leave. Whatever the reason, the best thing you can do is structure your exit so you leave the best impression behind.

But how do you gracefully bow out without stepping on anyone’s toes? The first step is to arrange a meeting with your manager, to discuss the reasons why you’re leaving, when you’re leaving, and to answer any questions that might prop up concerning your departure.

Even though the prospect of a formal meeting might be daunting, it’s always best to resign in person – it gives off a level of professionalism that simply doesn’t come through in a phone call or email. Once you’re there, there are a handful of things you need to be sure you’ll do:

Be respectful

Be firm but polite, discuss your reasons for leaving if you can, and be very clear about when you’ll leave. Make sure you remain positive and avoid going on rants about the business, even if you’re angered by certain things, and accentuate the positive aspects of your job if you can.

Make sure to give plenty of notice

Employers will need time to replace you, especially if you’re in a significant role in the company. Generally, the rule of thumb is that the longer you’ve worked there, the longer the notice you should give your employer.

And make sure you’re not going to leave in a time that would place undue stress on your colleagues – don’t leave in the middle of a project unless you absolutely have to. It will throw an entirely unneeded spanner in the works, and it won’t leave a great impression on the people at your workplace. If there’s a personal crisis that requires you to leave suddenly, it’s understandable, but it would generally be advisable to finish everything that needs to be finished before leaving.

Prepare your arguments against staying

If you’ve proven your worth in the company, employers might try and sway you with enticing offers to stay. It might be enticing enough for you to stay, but if you have your reasons to leave, stick fast to them. Make sure to remain calm and polite regardless of what opposition you might face, and prepare reasons to persuade your employer that the next step you’re taking is the best one for you. It might help to do a little bit of work before the meeting, and lay out the pros and cons in an organised list so that you can mentally pull it out to still any arguments.

After you’ve worked your way through the meeting, remember to say thank you. There’s no point in investing your time and energy into a company, and then leaving behind a bad impression by neglecting to leave respectfully. Be gracious, and make sure to say thank you for any company benefits you’ve been able to access. Ultimately, leaving your job should be as seamless and carefully conducted as you can manage it, to give both yourself and your employer the best foundation to move forward.

Feature image: Photographed by Timon Studler. Image via Unsplash.