Even those with a higher calling know when it’s time to move on, as evidenced by the shocking news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign the papacy at the end of the month—the first pope in 600 years to do so. While your decision to change jobs probably won’t warrant national news coverage, how you handle your last days at your current company can have a lasting impact on your professional reputation. Here are some often overlooked Do’s and Don’ts to set you up for a clean, damage-free breakup.
Don’t vent. You may be absolutely right: your boss is a jerk, your company is mismanaged, your co-workers are incompetent, but now’s not the time to point that out. Keep in mind that while you may be on your way out the door, the person (or even worse, people) you’re sitting across from aren’t. The trick is to make the ‘I’m leaving’ conversation as quick and dignified as possible. I say quick because I’ve seen even the most rehearsed professionals stumble with even five minutes too many. Plus, if your parting words are, “You’re the most incompetent person I’ve ever worked for,” you can be sure that’ll be top of mind during your reference check. This is especially important if you’ve been asked to leave. Repeat after me: Thank you for this opportunity (to learn how I will never, ever manage a team.) I have learned a tremendous amount (about why you shouldn’t take credit for your co-workers ideas.) While getting all your grievances off your chest may feel cathartic to you, I promise that weeks or months later when you see your colleagues at an industry event, or are sitting across from that former boss in an interview years later, you’ll be wishing you reined it in. The world’s a small one.