(MoneyWatch) Aside from your job interview, the conversation in which you give notice is one of the most important ones you will have while working at a company. Learn how to do it well, and you'll keep contacts open for future opportunities each time you move. Do it poorly, and you'll burn bridges and condense your possibilities even as your work experience expands. Here are 3 good tips to consider:
Give the news face-to-face
Part of keeping doors open is showing respect for your soon-to-be former boss. So don't just slip a resignation under his or her door or e-mail your two weeks' notice to avoid confrontation. That's like dumping someone by text message. "Instead, schedule a meeting with your manager to tell them eye-to-eye you will be leaving. From there, a resignation letter is appropriate to make things formal. Have it ready [for] the meeting," says Kimberly Schneiderman, founder of City Career Services in New York City. Giving notice in person may be awkward, but it is essential to leaving on good terms.
Pave the way for your replacement
Even if you're not training the person who takes your place, you want to make his or her transition as smooth as possible. Your old colleagues will appreciate that and remember it if you ever work together in the future. "Plan for your absence as though you're going on vacation. Create a how-to manual of your responsibilities and how you do them. Reach out to specific people on your team and key outside contacts/clients to see if they have any questions or would like to train with you before you leave," suggests Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, an online job search database. To address any issues after you leave, Sutton Fell adds that you should leave your contact information.
Be as positive as possible
If you're looking at your exit interview as a time to air your grievances and tell your HR manager why you hated your job, don't. It's too little, too late, and could cause your reputation damage -- and you won't be around to repair it. "If you're asked why you're leaving, be objective, calm and professional in your explanation. You never know when the person asking the question will be in a place to help you advance your own career in the form of another, future opportunity or a reference," says Amanda Haddaway, author of Interviewer Success: Become a great interviewer in less than one hour. A good rule of thumb: Pretend your words will be replayed to every single co-worker and superior at the organization. Because they very well might be.