Gracious exit - how to leave your job graciously.

how to leave graciously

Leaving a job and moving on to pastures new can be both thrilling and exciting yet emotional and sad at the same time. It will be sad to leave old friends and colleagues but exciting to think about what opportunities lie ahead.

Although you may be tempted to slack off and "party" whilst you work through your notice, it is best for you in the long run if you continue to work diligently and make a gracious exit when it's time to leave!

Tie up loose ends

Before you finally walk out of your workplace for the last time, it would be extremely helpful for your boss, your colleagues and your replacement if you tie up all loose ends before you go.

Make a list of everything that needs to be done before your final day and cross the items off as you complete them.

Finish any outstanding work and make sure that nothing is left unfinished as this could cause problems for your colleagues and your clients.

Help your successor

Just as you would like things to run smoothly when you start your new job, so too will your successor. Try to be as helpful as possible in making the transition straightforward and stress-free. If you have time, create a handover dossier for your replacement that contains all the important contact details, locations of files and documents, or any passwords needed to carry out your work. If there is anything that you think your replacement should know about your job and your workplace, ensure that it is all contained within the handover file.

Don't slack off

Once you know that you are leaving, you may be tempted to slack off slightly (or a lot) by arriving a little bit late for work in the morning, taking an extra 15 minutes for lunch or by not working to the best of your ability during working hours. All this will not go unnoticed by your colleagues and more importantly, your boss, who has yet to write your reference!

Although the new job is in the bag, it is always beneficial to have a glowing reference to hand when you need it. Similarly, you never know when you might bump into your former employer again, or any of your ex-colleagues, as they may turn up in the unlikeliest of places. Even if you can't wait to leave and you detest your boss and your colleagues, it is best to keep them on side, so that they have no excuse to bad-mouth you after you have left.

Do not brag

So, you've landed the most incredible job, which pays triple the amount you were earning before. That's all well and good, and your colleagues will be happy for you - just as long as you don't keep going on and on about your "fantastic new job" and rub their noses in it. Ideally, you should remain humble, behave as you did before and respect your colleagues' feelings. Remember, they are still working for your soon-to-be ex-employer.

Curb the gossip

Gossip is generally rife in the workplace, especially in an office environment. Don't give your colleagues even more to talk about when they find out that you are leaving. Be honest and say that it's time to move on, but make sure that you are positive in your explanation and that you have only good things to say about your time at the company. If you don't give any kind of explanation, they will make up their own.

Thank your boss

You want to leave with your reputation intact, and so it is vital that you do not exit your old job without thanking your boss for employing you in the first place and for giving you the opportunity to learn and grow professionally during your time with them. After all, without their belief in you in the beginning, you may not be where you are today.

Return company property

Before you leave you may have to clear out your desk or locker and return any company property. Don't be tempted to steal anything, even if it is "only" a pencil or next year's diary. Ensure that your working space is clean and tidy and ready for the next person to "move in" and don't forget to delete old files or emails from the computer before you go. If you were in the habit of taking work home with you, have a good root around and bring back anything that belongs to your employer.


In some cases your colleagues may arrange some type of "leaving do" for you and you will get the chance to say your goodbyes then.

However, it is still a good idea and common courtesy to bid everyone a brief farewell before you go. This could be a case of walking around the factory floor and personally speaking to your colleagues, or via an email in an office environment.

Ideally, leave your new contact details with your colleagues, you never know who might need you and what for and it's always a good idea to keep your business network open.

Thank your colleagues for their support and say that it was a pleasure to work with them (even if it wasn't). The way in which you leave your job will ultimately leave a lasting impression on your colleagues and your boss, so think carefully about your actions.

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