No matter what level job an employee works in, there often comes a time when he or she wants to seek out a new challenge, or expand on their area of expertise, and begins considering new employment opportunities.
"I firmly believe there is never a bad time to explore new job opportunities," said Cheryl Hyatt, CEO and partner of Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search. "I think that people need to continually keep an eye out for what's happening out there on the job market in their particular field."
That does not necessarily mean that people need to change jobs often, Hyatt said—rather, that they should keep an eye on both what is available in the market, and what those employers are looking for, to continue building their skill sets toward those future positions. This advice holds for any employee, from entry level to C-suite, Hyatt said.
However, "there's a difference between seeing what the market is looking for versus actual application and being prepared and ready to make a move," Hyatt said. "I think you really need to be very specific in when it's the right time for you individually to make a move. It could be personal reasons, it could be professional reasons, and that's when you should begin to start applying."
Once a new position is secured, you need to tie up loose ends at your current company, and ensure that you leave on a positive note, Hyatt said. "You need to walk your way through how you as an employer would want a person to leave, and to accomplish the tasks at hand," she added.
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Here are five tips for leaving your job on good terms.
1. Give adequate notice.
Find the balance of giving notice early enough so that your manager is not left scrambling to replace you, but late enough so that your departure is not dragged out, Hyatt said. It's also important to follow the right chain of command in giving notice—for example, tell your supervisor before you tell your coworkers.
2. Finish projects.
Though it can be tempting to slack on your work after you've accepted a new position, it's key to stay mentally engaged in your current job while you're still there, Hyatt said. Maintaining the quality of your work until the end will keep your reputation positive. "You don't want to burn bridges," Hyatt said. "You want to leave them wishing you had stayed."
3. Create a transition blueprint.
As soon as a person determines they are changing positions, they need to start putting things into writing, Hyatt said. Create an outline for your manager and for the person who will fill the role, detailing the work you did, and what will need to be done by the next person. This might include key contacts, information, and upcoming deadlines. You should also meet with your manager before you leave to go through this plan, Hyatt said.
For those working in the tech industry, this also means passing along information about the equipment, and any gaps or glitches in their systems, Hyatt said. "If there is something new coming on the horizon, I think they need to inform the next person," she added. "If they've done any kind of exploratory conversations with individuals about updates or what's next, all of that needs to be written down and shared."
4. Connect with colleagues.
Before leaving your job, make it a point to connect with your current coworkers both in-person and online through LinkedIn or other platforms to make sure you stay in touch in the future, Hyatt said.
5. Say thank you.
Make sure you express your appreciation to your managers and coworkers for their help while on the job. Focus on the positive, and celebrate what you've accomplished together, Hyatt said. You can also give employers constructive feedback based on your experiences.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.