Exiting Gracefully - What Works, and What Doesn't

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With more finance-sector jobs opening up, it's likely that more of you will soon face the challenge of not burning a bridge when you leave a current employer.

A recent post on Glassdoor by Rusty Rueff, a former corporate HR executive, sets out five recommendations for leaving a company in a manner that won't damage the relationships you've built with supervisors and colleagues.

First, he says, "Ensure there is no shock and awe." If you discuss your broad career goals and performance with your boss long before you're at the point of resigning, you'll at least give her a chance to help you realize your ambitions within the company. And if that proves impossible, you'll have paved the way for an eventual exit that won't leave your boss (or her superiors) feeling blind-sided.

Second, take measures to avoid leaving your peers in the lurch once you've left. That means shifting to a more collaborative work style once you've made up your mind to seek work elsewhere. Go out of your way to include immediate colleagues in "any decision, any hire, any major spending or investing decisions, etc.," Rueff advises.

That's reasonable advice. But I wonder how realistic it is. Even when the job market is strong, finding new employment can take far longer than the three months Rueff seems to consider normal. The time required is wildly unpredictable - as is the duration of any change in work style made in preparation for leaving. Including your colleagues in every important decision and project you're involved in may make good sense in and of itself. But then the advice is no longer about leaving a company, but about succeeding in your present role.

Close Your Ears to Counter-Offers?

Some of Rueff's other suggestions make less sense, in finance at least. For example, "Don't entertain a counter-offer." I'm guessing that in the corporate settings that shaped Rueff's viewpoint, bidding wars weren't a part of the landscape. Of course, that's far from the business culture you and I inhabit, where offers and counter-offers play an important role in the career paths of many professionals.

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