Tips for Breaking Up With a Job

Whether you're breaking up with a boyfriend or a job, it's never easy to do.

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Breaking up is never easy to do. Whether you're a 15-year-old boy who’s too scared to confront an emotionally-charged girl, or an adult suffering in a dead-end marriage, mustering up the courage and self-respect to make a change and improve your life is not always easy.

Leaving a job is difficult too.

There's the time you have invested; the fear of change; established relationships; a change in pay and benefits; and so on. In fact, when you add it all up, it's amazing that anyone makes the leap.

Leave a job with the same dignity and openness that you would exit any relationship. Expect feelings to be hurt. But if you have a plan and follow these tips, you’ll feel good about the break up:

Wounds will heal. You probably couldn't be happier to be moving on to a new job. But whatever it was that led you to leave, a screaming boss or smelly office, it will fade. Over time you will learn to let go of the anger associated with the job. You might never wonder why you left, but I can almost guarantee the feelings—especially the negative ones—will fade over time. Try to leave the burden of the job at its doorstep.

[See Ignore These 10 Outdated Pieces of Job-Search Advice.]

Respect. Even if a relationship has soured, it’s important to retain respect for yourself and the other party until the very end. Keep in mind that there was a reason the relationship worked to begin with. Be the better persona and remember the good times. Leave on a positive note with your head held high.

Honesty (filtered). It's OK to be honest about why you’re quitting a job. Perhaps you’re looking for a bigger challenge. Maybe you need more money. State your true reasons for moving on, without throwing anyone under the bus or getting too personal.

Don't wait too long. We often know when a relationship has run its course, but we ride the wave for too long. (And you know all waves come to an end). If your instinct, brain, or heart is telling you to get a new job, listen. Even if only one of the three is whispering inside of you, it might be time to go. Your time is valuable, and wasting it is inexcusable.

[See 6 Ways the World of Work is Changing.]

Keep it brief. The cleanest breakups are the ones that are brief. The longer you give each side to speak, the messier things become. Don't get trapped in a long exit-interview process and start spilling your guts. Try to contain your emotions and keep the conversation factual. (I wish I would have done that with a few ex-girlfriends.)

Be 100 percent sure. Do not waiver. If you've already made your decision to leave a job, there should be nothing the employer can do to retain you. The window for negotiations has already closed. Flip-flopping on your decision will not only make you look bad in the eyes of the employer, but can lead to some serious second guessing down the road. Don't take him back, no matter how much he begs.

Provide closure. Make a conscious effort to tie up all loose ends. Be sure that whoever fills your position has the tools and resources they need to succeed. Return all company property; there should be no reason for the employer to have to track you down after your last day. Sort of like the time you gave that t-shirt back to your ex.

[See How to Make a Career Back-Up Plan.]

Do it in person. "I'm sorry. I can't. Don't hate me." written on a Post-It note to your boss will pretty much ensure that you've burned a bridge. No phones, no email. When you decide to leave a job, the initial message must be delivered in person.

The person or organization getting left behind can react in a myriad of ways, but one thing is certain: no one likes to be left. Be prepared to stick to your game plan. Only time will tell if you made the right decision.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job and an established freelance blogger who is available for hire. Follow him on Twitter (@jobacle) or connect on LinkedIn.

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