5 Tiny Mistakes Even The Best Employees Make When Leaving A Job

You can still go with grace.

woman sitting outside after quitting job sakoqwakestock / Shutterstock

You’ve done it! You’ve decided to resign from your current position. Cheers to you and your new awesome opportunity! When you figure out your reasons to leave a job, here come the tough parts: giving your notice and working through your remaining weeks with confidence and grace. So easy! For some, maybe it’s easy but if a soap opera plays nonstop in your head the moment you accept the new gig, then I have some tidbits on how to quit a job that you’ll find helpful.


Here are 5 tiny mistakes even the best employees make when leaving a job:

1. Don’t give a long (or short) notice

Do your research and give an appropriate notice for your role. We all understand why giving too short of a notice is not recommended and I’m here to tell you that going the other way isn't a smart move either. It’s not about what the organization/team "deserves" either as revenge or as a gift. If you have a lot of responsibilities and are a caring person, it’s understandable that you’d want to "do the right thing" but the right thing is different for everyone, including your boss and teammates.


It’s often said that the road to heck is paved with good intentions and you will be creating your version that you cannot control for a duration longer than necessary which you chose. Breaking up is hard to do and prolonging it is not a solution. It may seem noble and people may even tell you that but that will be short-lived. Here’s a plan for success:

  • Do the research for industry, role, and tenure.
  • Share your timeline with 3 trusted people and at least one must be a colleague.
  • Listen to your trusted circle even if your heart aches a little.
  • Resign.

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2. Don’t be naive

Be prepared for all kinds of reactions from everyone. Change is hard and people often take it personally. You can’t control others but you must control yourself and your reactions. There will be people who drop you like a hot potato. Others will try to give you bad work. Some will use shame and guilt. And there will be those who try and degrade your reputation.

These actions say everything about them and nothing about you unless you take it personally for more than a moment and react, emotionally. My mom always said, "Kill ‘em with kindness" and those are wise words to follow. Having compassion for people who don’t treat you well is difficult. Even if you cannot be kind at least be professional and don’t shy away from standing up for your good name — just be sure you can hold your head high about your tone and words.  I always liked to see these experiences as ways of weeding people out of my life who initially looked like a sweet flower but then turned into a picker plant.




3. Don’t get bitter

Do great things and be your best. Ever heard of "short-timer syndrome?" With coworkers taking things personally and lashing out, it would be easy to justify slacking off or withdrawing but how will you feel? Why be miserable during your last weeks on the job? Many people will want one last conversation with you and you may even have real work to finish or turn over. 

Being your typical helpful, innovative, and hard-working self will make each day feel better and you’ll get great sleep. You might even be an inspiration to others, so be inspiring…not only for them but yourself too. At the very least, you will not burn bridges and that is always a good thing. Bitter is never better. 

RELATED: If You Can’t Pass This ‘Dinner Table Test’ It’s Probably Time To Find A New Job


4. Don’t give in to pressure

Do understand your limits and set boundaries accordingly. Doing great things and being your best throughout your final weeks is essential but some will try to take advantage of your generous spirit and dump even more work on you and push you to complete it at whatever cost. Really? I’m fascinated by this tactic because what can they do-you have an end date and that is that. 



Even if you’re staying at the same company and moving departments the consequences are usually minimal. You want to start your new chapter with energy and renewed passion so don’t run yourself into the ground because your boss is having a knee-jerk reaction. This often comes as your end-date nears so you are fooled into thinking everyone’s crazy reactions (see #2) have come and gone…but no! Suddenly there’s a sense of urgency but don’t fall for this!  

You can do good work within normal hours but you have to be prepared and willing to set those boundaries. You can have empathy for your boss and still hold firm to what you need. Your new job will start more smoothly when you don’t have to recover from the last one.


RELATED: 10 Signs You're In A Toxic Relationship With Your Job

5. Don’t doubt yourself

Show yourself kindness and compassion! At the end of the day, we all want to look in the mirror and love ourselves. Living your values every day is essential and no matter what others suggest, you must do what will give you peace of mind, confidence, and love for yourself. Don’t doubt your ability to adjust when you don’t like how your day went. Tomorrow is another chance for success. Tap into your empathy and show yourself compassion during this often awkward and challenging time. 

Transitions are always uncomfortable even when they are exciting because growth is involved. That awkward discomfort must not be mistaken for doubt.  You are exactly where you’re supposed to be, so enjoy the journey! I have paid the price of doing many of these "don'ts" myself and I see it in my clients all the time. Once, I gave a two-month notice when I should have given 3 weeks and boy was that a disaster! I had eight long weeks of drudgery where I’m pretty sure I failed at all 5 above. 


The wonderful thing is that I also grew a lot because of that and during my last weeks I started having compassion for the change and all the feelings because I understood why it was all happening. My boundaries were no longer bendy so my resentment stopped and I was clear about who was a true friend and who I could gracefully leave behind. My confidence was restored after being nearly obliterated, but not once did I doubt my ability to get through the challenge or my decision. 

RELATED: If You Can Answer ‘Yes’ To These 10 Questions, It’s Time To Quit Your Job

Bridget Baisch is a small business coach who provides consulting, training, and coaching to businesses and individuals who are looking to make the most of day-to-day interactions.