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How To Ensure Smooth Transition To A New Job

Ramon Greenwood -- There are 13 steps you can take to avoid burning bridges to the past when you move to a new job.

You've landed a new job. If you are interested in building a successful career, don't burn bridges to the past as you move on. Here are 13 steps you can take to help make the transition a positive step toward your career goals.

First of all, be doubly sure you are making the move for the right reasons that in total mean a step forward on your career path. If you are making a change for negative reasons be certain you can leave the negatives behind. Don't jump from the frying pan into the fire.

When you are confident that a change will be beneficial, lay out a plan that will make for a smooth transition.

1. If you are planning to move to another job have the offer, with terms, in hand before you hand in your resignation.

2. Comply with the employee manual or employment contract covering any benefits you are entitled to such as unused vacation time, withdrawal/transfer/roll-over of savings programs and insurance.

3. Give ample notice of your decision, at least two weeks or more time if you are in the midst of a major project. Three to four weeks notice may be expected for some professional positions.

Make an appointment with your boss so you can deliver your resignation face-to-face. Explain in positive terms the reason you are leaving. It may feel good at the time, but resist the temptation to criticize your employer, your associates or working conditions.

Hand over a formal letter of resignation, including the dates of your departure as well as an offer to help your successor.

You never know when you might need a letter of recommendation, so seek assurances that your employer would give you a positive reference in the future.

4. Reach out to your colleagues with a positive explanation for your action. You will need their understanding and support in order to make a graceful exit.

If you have external contacts on behalf of your employer, communicate with them regarding your decision, always in positive terms.

5. Exchange contact information with those persons inside and outside your employer's universe with whom you have had a working relationship. Let them know where they can reach you and encourage contact. Consider Facebook and LinkIn.

This is a feel-good tactic. Besides you may end up working with them again, even as a member of their staff.

6. Be prepared in case your boss reacts negatively in shock, anger, envy or grief to the surprise and problems your leaving will create for him. Be aware you may be asked to leave immediately. (This reaction can be so extreme that you will be escorted off the premises.)

7. Be sure that the assignments on your plate are running on schedule. Provide your replacement with detailed information of what's in the pipeline and offer suggestions for handling the projects. Offer to help train your successor. Be available, even after you leave, to answer questions. After all, you know more about the requirements of the position you are leaving than anyone else.

8. Don't leave behind personal footprints on the Internet. Erase your browser cache, delete passwords to Web sites and personal files such as email and financial accounts on the computer provided for you. Do not erase anything related to your work.

9. Don't walk off with any company property such as keys, computers, phones and anything else that doesn't belong to you.

This admonition also applies to any proprietary information you may have gained. There are tough laws against misuse of such knowledge.

The last thing you want is your employer chasing you to return its equipment and intellectual properties.

10. Be as helpful as possible during exit interviews. Be honest and forthcoming. Couch any criticism you feel is required in constructive terms.

"Whatever you do, don't confess about how much you disliked working there," advises Tanya Maslach, a career coach who specializes in relationship management issues. "If you want to leave a helpful hint or opinion, consider offering your expertise to your soon-to-be ex boss...offer to be available...if they get in a rut."

11. Be gracious at any going-away function. Resist any temptation to gloat over your good fortune.

12. Changing jobs is an exhausting experience. Allow yourself some vacation time so you'll hit the ground running with your new position.

13. Thank those who have helped you along your career path, especially those who made the effort to give you a good send-off.

For more advice on how to accelerate your career during tough times participate in Ramon Greenwood's widely read Common Sense At Work Blog click He coaches from a successful career as Senior VP at American Express, author of career-related books, successful entrepreneur, and a senior executive/consultant in Fortune 500 companies. For more free career coaching visit

© 2010 Ramon Greenwood

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