Time to leave your job?

How you leave your current employment is as important as getting ready for your new position.

Time to leave your job?

Leaving a job is a process most everyone will go through at least once. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010 study, the average American will have 11 full-time jobs before age 44 – about one job every two years. Moving on to a new position will happen in your lifetime.

How you leave your current employment is an important step in building and maintaining your career network. Here are a few ideas Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development encourages you to consider as you transition:

  • As much as possible, do not leave a job without having another job lined up. This will provide a consistent flow of income and a somewhat seamless flow into your new experience.
  • When looking for a new position, use your out-of-work time or vacation time for applying or going to interviews. It is not appropriate to use work time to look for another position.
  • Do not discuss applying for new positions or going to interviews at your current job, especially with co-workers. This does not demonstrate a focus and dedication to the current job. If you are using your current employer as a reference and have a good working relationship, it would be acceptable to have a private conversation explaining your interest in growing in your career and looking at other positions. This is still important to do if your position was seasonal or temporary as a courtesy to your employer.
  • As soon as you accept a new position, notify your supervisor through a private conversation.
  • Provide at least two weeks’ notice for ending work so that your employer can post a position and hire a new employee. If you can provide any additional time, it is generally appreciated. Negotiate a starting date with your new employer that meets these needs.
  • Stay positive about your past work experience even if you are leaving because of challenges. You want to keep as good a relationship as possible so you have good references and a solid network to utilize in the future. Your reputation as an employee is important, as it will follow you in your career.
  • Reflect on what you have learned at your current position, and express gratitude to the appropriate people who helped you along the way. This will help you grow your network of colleagues and references, as well as help you remember how each job is an important stepping stone in your career path.

Consider a change in career as another opportunity to grow as a professional, both in leaving your past position and in starting your new one.

The National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program provides curriculum activities related to earning an income and employment. You can use these activities to discuss this important topic. The Build Your Future 4-H career curriculum also provides helpful tools for advancing and maintaining your career. MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development provides resources to help youth before, during and after their employment on the Michigan 4-H Career Preparation website.

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