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The best way to leave your job

When you’re unhappy at work it’s easy to feel like a caged animal. Desperation can make you want to do whatever it takes to get out of there – and fast. But with a little bit of foresight you can plan an exit strategy that wont come back to bite you. We spoke to three professionals about the best way to move on to greener pastures.

While Australians appear to be changing jobs more than ever, it’s still important to consider how each move you make will look on your CV. If you can hang around long enough to ensure a good reference and line up a future position that truly excites you, it’s worth it.

Be strategic

It’s important to think objectively about what’s driving your desire to leave your current job. Deakin MBA graduate James Buzzard, who works in management consulting at KPMG, says if your reasons are reactive, think again. ‘Are you leaving the company or are you trying to get away from a particular individual or personality? If the latter, is there an opportunity for you to move internally to experience other areas of the company or work with other individuals?’

Studies show that around 50% of Australians have experienced some kind of bullying at work. If your workplace is becoming toxic, it may be important for your mental health to make your move quickly. But if you’re simply feeling unchallenged you may be able to hold off until you have all your ducks in a line.

Buzzard says if you’re confident that moving on is the best option then start looking, but try to make sure you have a position to go to before you put in your resignation. ‘The last thing you want to have is a long period of search and stress, which usually results in taking something that isn’t suited to you just to get the money flow going again.’

'Are you leaving the company or are you trying to get away from a particular individual or personality?'

James Buzzard,
Deakin MBA graduate

Keep communication channels open

Depending on your relationship with your manager it may be a good idea to let them know that you are looking for new opportunities. Deakin MBA graduate Melinda Di Vita, Head of Distribution at Guild Super, says being upfront made her most recent resignation a positive experience. ‘I was approached for my current role and I was open with my manager that I was interested in the role and would go through the process to build my confidence.’

De Vita’s openness allowed her manager to be involved and supportive. ‘As the interview process progressed I kept the communication channels open and by the time I handed in my resignation, they knew it was an offer that I couldn’t refuse. It was also a great send off and I’m still in contact with the company and my ex-colleagues.’

Keep your options open

According to Ian Allison, founder and director of Botanical Funerals by Ian Allison, no matter where you’re at in your career it’s essential to ensure that you have other options. Preparing for a resignation can start a long time before you’re actually ready to make a move. ‘You should always have a plan B – whether you are staying or leaving your job as you never know what the future may hold for you. Studying the Deakin MBA was part of my plan B and opened up so many different possibilities for me.’

Don’t burn bridges

Melinda Di Vita says the advice from a friend to ‘be gracious’ has always served her well. ‘Thank them for the opportunities they provided. If it’s a positive exit, let them know why you are leaving, I would assume a better opportunity, a new challenge,’ says Di Vita.

‘If leaving on bad terms, don’t burn your bridges. With industries consolidating, you might work together again! Rather leave with the knowledge that you learnt something the hard way and hopefully it makes you more resilient.’

The cautionary tale

We’ve all heard stories of a dramatic exit and if the workplace is particularly toxic the desire to make your feelings known can be strong. Di Vita suggests, ‘If you ever build the confidence to tell your CEO what you really think, make sure your desk is clean, have your bags packed and holiday booked!’

James Buzzard has witnessed first hand how a hasty exit can lead to eating humble pie. ‘I had a colleague who believed that they had a job offer from another company, so put in their resignation. They did so in a somewhat aggressive manner, and when the job opportunity vanished, they came back cap in hand to try to get their old job back. They managed to do so, but not without significant distrust from the team and leadership.’

If you’re gracious with your resignation, provide a thorough handover for your replacement and keep your manager informed of your plans. It’s likely you’ll keep your reputation in tact for future opportunities.

If you’re looking to increase your career options, explore Deakin’s MBA program.

Needing something flexible to fit in with work and life commitments? Deakin’s MBA Masterclass could be what you’re looking for.

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