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The Ethics of Leaving a Job You Love

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Love isn't always enough reason to stay – in your job, that is. You might feel perfectly content in your position and workplace, but have to relocate for family-related reasons, or because you're continuing your education. Maybe you feel pulled toward a career change, or another employer has offered you a leadership position. For whatever reason, it may be time to leave a job you truly love. And when that's the case, how do you quit?

It's possible and important to resign from your job with grace, and on good terms. Here's how to do it.

Tell Your Boss Ahead of Time

You might feel tempted to keep your job search under the radar to avoid hurting your boss' feelings, especially if you have a strong working relationship. But in reality, it would probably benefit both you and your boss to be honest early on about your plans to leave, according to Monster. If you're serious about departing from your job, and you're confident in your relationship with your boss, sit down with him or her and come clean about the impending change. If both of you are in the know, you won't have to sneak around over the course of your job search, and your boss will have more time to find the right person to take your place at the company. You might even volunteer to train your replacement before officially leaving.

Moreover, being open with your boss from the get-go can help you lay out a plan for your departure, according to a 2016 article from Harvard Business Review. You can decide together who you'll tell about your plans to leave, and how you'll hand down your responsibilities. If you do plan to tell other colleagues about your plans to leave, do so in person, to help maintain good relationships with those people.

Do Some Favors

Employees leaving beloved, long-time positions should use their influence to benefit their colleagues, Jodi Glickman suggests in the Harvard Business Review. If you know one of your colleagues has been itching for more responsibility in their position, perhaps give them a heads-up about your departure and which of your responsibilities might be up for grabs after you leave. Consider name-dropping that colleague to your boss, as well, to let him or her know your colleague is interested in taking on some of your tasks. However, avoid making any promises.

As your departure date approaches, you may feel excluded from certain meetings and discussions as your work is delegated to other employees. Remember that this isn't personal, and it's just part of the process – your company has to fill your shoes, and you're leaving your colleagues with new opportunities and space to grow. In those final weeks, focus less on your personal involvement in the company, and more on saying your goodbyes and doing your best work until the end.

Stay Strong Until Your Last Day

Once you've put in your notice, it's tempting to slack on your tasks and deadlines. It might even seem impossible to keep your energy and efforts up to par in those weeks leading up to your departure. But it's important to leave on a strong note to maintain a healthy relationship with that employer – you'll most likely want to use your boss for job references in the future, and either way, you don't want to burn any bridges. Forbes recommends that you maintain your regular hours, continue adhering to company policies and stay on the grind at work all the way through your last day.

Even more, consider adding even more tasks to your roster before departing: Transfer all your files and clients in a clear and organized manner, and get ahead on some deadlines to make your employer's transition as smooth as possible after you leave. Say thanks, as well – let your boss and colleagues know how grateful you are for your time there, both through your words and through the quality of your work.


Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

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