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So you decided it’s time to leave your job, and you’ve just given your notice — now what?
The moments after you quit may feel a bit … odd. While on the one hand you’re probably excited to move on to your next venture, you may also be battling feelings of guilt, apprehension, or even loss.
Or maybe you’re so overjoyed about your departure that you feel it’s finally time to tell your boss what’s what.
Before you get swept away by your emotions, this guide should help you handle the moments after quitting your job with aplomb.
Be prepared to answer some questions
Your employer will likely want to know why you’re quitting, and it’s OK to tell them — just keep it positive.
“Pointing fingers or being negative about the reasons you’re leaving have no redeeming value,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,”.
Adrian Granzella Larssen, career expert and editor-in-chief of The Muse, tells Business Insider it’s best to be gracious, honest, and brief. You can say something as simple as, “I’ve been offered an opportunity I want to pursue.”
Your current employer may also ask you to divulge what your new employer is offering you, but, as Larssen says, “no one needs to know all the details of your new company’s awesome perks or how much more you’re making.” Divulging your salary offer allows your current employer to counteroffer, which many experts advise against accepting because you’d be burning two bridges at once.
“The other organization would be unlikely to ever look at hiring you again, your current employer will question your motives (and the relationship may quickly sour, resulting in a need to conduct another search), and, depending on your industry and how large it is, you may gain a reputation as a ‘counteroffer king or queen,’ which could affect your opportunities down the road,” job search coach Miriam Salpeter tells Forbes.
To sidestep the question, you could say that your salary and benefits offerings are confidential.
Thank your boss
Larssen suggests closing the resignation discussion on a positive note with a “thank you” for your manager’s mentorship and generosity.
“Remember, you’ve earned your new role in part thanks to the opportunities you’ve had at your current one,” Larssen says.
Barbara Pachter, a career coach and author of “The Essentials Of Business Etiquette,“ writes that one departing employee she knew even offered to take his office manager to lunch as a special thank-you.
Take a deep breath
Once you’ve done the uncomfortable deed of quitting, find a quiet and private space to gather your thoughts and decompress.
Taylor suggests physically tamping down the emotion while you’re at work with exercises like deep breathing, a quick meditation, or a brisk walk.
Know that it’s going to be OK
It also helps to be mentally prepared for the emotional roller coaster that will likely follow.
“Whether you’re thrilled or devastated to be quitting, leaving your job can be an overwhelming combo of emotions, and some of them conflicting,” Larssen says. “You may feel relief but also guilt, happiness but also nostalgia, excitement but also fear. For many, it can even feel like a breakup; it is, after all, the end of a relationship!
“No matter what, give yourself permission to feel this wide range of emotions. As you move on to whatever’s next, the feeling will subside and you’ll find a new normal,” Larssen says.
Especially if you’re feeling guilty, Larssen says it’s important to remember that you’re not the first person to quit their job, and you won’t be the last.
“Your manager may initially be surprised or upset, but ultimately everyone knows this happens,” she says. “We are perpetually learning, growing, and evolving in our careers as well as in our personal lives, and it’s perfectly normal for your interests or priorities to change over time.”
Don’t burn bridges
“Boomerang employees” who return to a previous company or position are becoming more and more commonplace, and you never know when you might cross paths with these people again — or if you may want to return to this company later in your career — so whatever you do, don’t burn any bridges.
This all hearkens back to the earlier point of staying positive.
“No matter how long you have fantasized about telling your boss off — don’t do it,” writes Pachter. “It might make you feel wonderful for ten seconds, but later you probably would feel bad about it. And the only thing you would accomplish would be to lose a reference.”
Make the effort to keep in touch
In addition to quitting gracefully, making an effort to keep in touch can also help your career down the road, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson writes on LinkedIn.
“Explain your reasoning, share your vision for the future, and make an effort to keep in touch,” he writes. “Who knows what the future will hold?”
Instead of saying to your boss or colleagues, “let’s keep in touch,” show that you mean it by collecting your colleagues’ personal contact information if you don’t already have it and setting up a time in the future to get coffee or drinks.
“For many people, leaving your work family is the hardest part of quitting a job. So spend your last few weeks really connecting with the coworkers you’re closest to,” Larssen suggests. She stresses that it’s not just OK but a good idea to maintain those relationships, and you should make a point to regularly connect with your colleagues and managers.
Hand in your official resignation
While you’ll want to quit in person, it’s common practice for an employer to ask you to also submit an official letter of resignation for their records.
Keep your letter short and sweet. Again, there’s no need to expound here on all the things you hated about your employer or every awesome little detail about your new company.
But don’t sign anything right away
If HR asks you to sign anything, even a letter of resignation they’ve provided, take it home with you and look it over thoroughly before you sign it. Your signature could simply be a formal way of saying you’re resigning, or it could be an agreement that you won’t compete with the company for a certain period of time.
Get important stuff off your computer
If you haven’t already — and if you’re not already locked out of your computer or immediately escorted out of the building — take a few minutes to gather any important contact information, personal files, performance reports, and anything else that could help with future job searches, as well as anything of a personal nature.
Ask for a recommendation
If you still have a good rapport with your bosses or colleagues, you could ask to use them as references for future job applications. If you don’t already have their personal contact information, now’s the time to ask.
Make the transition easier for everyone else
If you’re not asked to leave immediately, plan on your final days being more administrative — you’ll likely have a few meetings with managers and subordinates to discuss the transition.
Make the transition even easier for everyone by leaving detailed notes about your daily duties, goals, any work-arounds or tricks you’ve picked up along the way, logins, and key contacts, and offer to train and re-distribute work to anyone who may be stepping into your shoes.
Take a vacation
When was the last time you took a mental-health day off of work? Whether you get away with friends for a night, spend the weekend hiking, or take a long-awaited trip somewhere, transitioning jobs presents a unique opportunity to take some well-earned time for yourself to decompress, as long as you can afford it.
Job experts often suggest taking a vacation before starting a new job to recharge for a number of reasons:
“Time off gives an opportunity to evaluate your life and priorities and ensure the path you’re on is the one you want to be following,” say Kerry Schofield, cofounder and Chief Psychometrics Officer of the self-discovery platform Good.Co.
It gives you an opportunity to work on personal projects, take up new hobbies, or enjoy “you” time, which you’ll probably miss out on for a while after beginning a new job.
And it allows you to disengage from your old job: “Humans are creatures of habit, and we find it hard to make abrupt changes. Taking some time to put an old job and lifestyle to bed before starting fresh can be vital for psychological health and optimizing performance,” Schofield says.
Reflect on your accomplishments and growth
Larssen suggests taking a moment to reflect on everything you’ve learned and accomplished since you first started.
“Don’t lose sight of the great memories you’ve made, experiences you’ve had, and relationships you’ve built,” she says. “You get to take all of those lessons with you in your next endeavor, and taking time to be proud of that will help the transition feel even more positive.”
Create a ’30, 60, 90 plan’
Finally, to ensure you’re successfully in your new role, you need to clearly understand what’s expected of you, what your ultimate goals are, and what you’re major responsibilities will be, and then come up with a plan to get there.
Larssen suggests taking some time to create a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan to present to your new boss for feedback, “which will show that you’re taking initiative in your new role and make sure you’re on the same page,” she says.