Knowing When and How to Leave Your Job Well

by | May 8, 2018

I was catching up with a close friend on the topic of work when we both realized that she has been with her current company for 32 years. That kind of longevity used to be the norm, but not anymore. I, on the other hand, am going for my personal record of five years with the same organization at Workmatters. You might say I have some experience with leaving jobs – sometimes by choice and others, not so much. One thing I’ve learned is that it is important to know both when it is time to leave, and how to leave well under any circumstances.

Like it or not, there are going to come times for most of us when we have to make a move. Regardless of the reason, job transitions are always challenging. How you handle the experience makes a difference, not only for you, but for those who are watching.

Here are some tips that will help you when that times comes for you.

Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In one situation, I had had a sense for some time that it was time to move on. But rather than step out in faith to see what God might have next for me, I didn’t budge – until I was finally ousted. If you sense you are no longer able to contribute to your current employer, it may be God letting you know He has a new plan for you. Likewise, if you want to leave, but you feel God holding you there, lean in to Him until He tells you to move. He may be preparing you. Obedience to God’s calling matters. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Keep your thoughts and words positive. My first experience being laid off was a bit of a shock. I never imagined that would happen to me. Thanks to my faith, I remained positive, took the steps I needed to take and trusted God. In that case, I had another job within two weeks. On the other hand, a man I had worked with and who was also let go was very bitter and expressed his anger about the situation openly. He was still looking for a job two years later. Your mindset and your words matter. (1 Peter 5:7-10, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Do the right thing. At one point, I worked in a sales position where the environment was very  numbers-driven. If anyone gave notice, they were escorted to the door immediately. Nevertheless, I was granted a request for two weeks to ensure my customers were transitioned well. In another situation, when I felt I was treated unfairly, I still remained committed to extending grace and forgiveness. Your integrity matters. (Galatians 6:9)

Treat everyone with respect. No matter what the reason for the transition, it’s critical that you demonstrate love and respect for all of the people you worked with. You never know who is watching and how they’ll be impacted. And you never know who you will cross paths with in the future. I have found that respecting even those who have hurt me has allowed me to restore relationships, and maintain mutual respect with others. Your relationships matter. (Luke 6:27)

The fact is, none of us know the future, but we can trust the only One who does. And all the days of our lives were written in His book before we took our first breath (Psalm 139:16). In all situations, we have to seek Him first, trust that He has a plan and be obedient to His commands. When you do, you’ll see His plans are so much better!

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Catherine Gates

Catherine Gates is Executive Director of Women in the Marketplace, a nonprofit marketplace ministry that equips working women to confidently pursue their faith and career for the glory of God. She is also the author of The Confidence Cornerstone: A Woman’s Guide to Fearless Leadership. Learn more at womeninmarketplace.net.