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How to Leave a Long-Term Job

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Leaving a long-term job is a sensitive issue because you don't want to burn any bridges on your way out. Resigning can be a pleasant experience as long as you leave on good terms and handle the exit with grace and professionalism. If you're not retiring and plan to continuing working, you might want to want to stay connected with your previous employer in case you need a work reference for your new job.

Talk to Your Boss First

It may be tempting to talk to a co-worker about your plans to resign, but it's best to talk to your boss before you let anyone else know. When you've been part of a company for a long time, you want your boss to hear the news first. As a seasoned employee, you likely will leave big shoes to fill and you want to give your boss a heads-up so he doesn't feel blindsided by the news. Talk to your boss in person and let him know your expected time table. If your company or organization has a specific time requirement such as a two-week notice, abide by the policy.

Assign Your Responsibilities

Once you talk to your boss about leaving your long-term position, make sure co-workers will be able to carry on without you. Your boss might ask you to train a replacement or assign your responsibilities to other workers. It's not your job to make sure the company doesn't struggle once you leave, but you can make things a little easier by helping with the transition. When you've been in a position for a long time, your job tasks may seem simple to you, but they may be challenging for someone new. It usually takes time to work your way up the learning curve, and your boss will appreciate the time you invested in a replacement.

Ask for a Recommendation

Even if you're planning to take some time off or you're retiring from the workforce, it's always a good idea to get a recommendation. A future employer may ask for a reference or you may qualify for a leadership position in a club or a volunteer organization and need a job-related recommendation. Once you leave a long-term position, it may be difficult to go back and request a recommendation. Plus, your former boss might not remember all of your skill sets and long-term workplace contributions once your old position has been filled or after time has passed.

Don't Look Back

Keep moving forward even if your boss tries to get you to stay by giving you a raise or other workplace benefit. When you've been at a company for a long time, your boss will likely realize the value you add to the company and try to convince you to stay. According to "Forbes," it's best to politely reject any type of counter-offer and stick with your original intentions. You don't want your boss or co-workers to think you're trying to manipulate the system to your advantage. Plus, you've chosen to move on and don't want to miss out on the future dreams and goals you're pursuing.


As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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