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How to Leave your Job

How to Leave your Job

When leaving your job, there are several aspects to keep in mind. 

In a broad sense

  • plan your professional life to give it continuity, for example, having a position already taken in a different institution. 
  • If not, if you have to leave without another job at sight, make sure your savings will be enough to support you while you look for new opportunities. If you get distracted thinking about paying your bills, you will waste precious time from your job search. 
  • If you are not financially secure, consider staying at your present position until you can have a new job to go to or some financial stability.

Once you have analyzed the variables of quitting your job and your motivations still move you forward in a different direction from your present employment, then it is time to think of how doing so in a more narrow sense. It means, on the one hand, the administrative steps you need to follow, and; on the other hand, leave in the best terms you can. 

1- Knowing the administrative steps you need to take will help you make your resignation process run smoothly. 

First of all, consider a leave of absence for a year or more. Such a shift may require specific approvals, which implies an extra effort. However, it may be worth it. If your decision to leave for good is a fact, then consult the faculty handbook, which will give you the insights you may not be aware of. For example, at Cornell University, resignation by an academic employee "is normally effective at the end of an academic term or on June 30 or December 31 for those on 12/month appointments", and no less than a month's notice is required. You need to know your institution policies about vacations, etc. so that you can discuss those issues of your concern and do the necessary paperwork.

Secondly, notify the chairperson of the department and whoever necessary to make your resignation effective. 

In the first place, talk in person, then write a letter stating dates, reasons, etc.

2- If possible, leaving in good terms may be the ground for future opportunities. No matter the reasons behind your decision or how well you get on with your colleagues, it is of great importance not to seem ungrateful and leave healthy professional relationships. 

  • It is not advisable to tell your colleagues about your plans before you talk to the person in charge. However, it is a good idea to e-mail them saying goodbye.
  • Show your gratitude in person and in writing to your mentors and others that guided you and enriched your professional life inside the institution.
  • If possible, talk to your successor. If that is not an option, leave as much as you can in order.  Doing so will help your successor and your students enormously.

Feeling nervous and even guilty or anxious are common feelings when faced with the situation of moving on professionally. Just remember that you are not the first person to leave your job, and you won't be the last either.