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How to Leave a Position

How to Leave a Position

By Kristen Faucon, Marketing Intern and Illinois State University Student


Leaving a position is a delicate situation and in a tight-knit industry like agriculture it is important to do so appropriately. Here are some tips that will help you bow out gracefully before taking the next step on your career path.

Once you have decided to leave your position, you have to tell your employer. Find a time to meet privately with your supervisor before telling others. Be honest but don’t be brash. Provide reasons for why you are leaving such as, “the company culture wasn’t the right fit for me,” or “I accepted a management position with Company X.”

Be sure to give appropriate notice of your departure. We’ve all heard of the standard two weeks’ notice, which is typically a sufficient amount of time. Also don’t be shocked if you are asked to leave right away, especially if your position deals with sensitive information.

“Once they decide to leave, they’re starting to check out. You might just let them go or ask for more time,” says Tom Nelson, VP of Human Resources for Farmers Cooperative. Employers refer to this as the “lame duck” stereotype and it is easy to fall into. After you have decided to leave, you are ready to move on and start the next chapter or your life, which is understandable. However, it’s important to make the most of the time you have left to finish any tasks/projects and to supply your boss and coworkers with anything they may need.

“Take time to make necessary notes for your boss or replacement,” recommends Mary Barefoot, HR Services Manager for “Take the approach to leave things the way you’d want them if you were the person coming into the position,” adds Barefoot. Even by giving two weeks’ notice and trying to finish up as many tasks as you can, you may still find that not everything can be wrapped up before you go. The fact of the matter is there is typically never a good time to leave the company.

“Companies are always working on important projects so it may not be possible to schedule an ideal departure date,” says Jackie Bass, VP of Human Resources for Christensen Farms. “Some companies will allow their new employees to stay in touch with the old employer to tie up loose ends which is the ideal situation if appropriate,” shares Bass. Although your company may not need you to stay in touch to help wrap up any loose ends, you should still keep that door open.

“Your horizon may be set on your new career path, but your past employer can always play a factor in your future success. Whether that is via a formal reference or positive word of mouth, it matters what past employers say about you,” says Barefoot. There are many ways to continue to network with your former coworkers. Nelson recommends sustaining your network through phone calls, e-mails, LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social networks. But don’t forget about your human resources department.

“Touching base with HR or your previous supervisor is perfectly acceptable provided you left on good terms,” says Bass. “The human resources department will often want to stay in touch with quality employees as they may wish to hire them again at a later date.” Noting the importance of sustaining your network, it’s crucial that you don’t burn any bridges and leave the company on good terms.

“After resigning you may feel the urge to let loose and give your boss or obnoxious coworker a piece of your mind. Don’t,” advises Barefoot. “Regardless of your disdain for the organization remember that you are first and foremost a professional or at least a soon-to-be professional and your actions could come back to haunt you,” adds Barefoot.

A few last things to keep in mind when leaving a position are a letter of resignation and exit interviews. Exit interviews allow your employer to address the reasons behind your separation from the company, enabling them to remediate the situation or to prevent it from happening again in the future. More than likely, your employer will ask for a letter of resignation so be sure to have one ready. Keep the letter brief, formal and positive. You do not need to include your reason for leaving, unless it is something such as going back to school or staying home with the kids. Be sure to show gratitude for the opportunities and experiences the company provided.