10 Tips for Quitting your Dev Job the Right Way
Quitting your software job… there’s etiquette to be considered and a resignation letter to be carefully written. Despite professionals holding, and therefore quitting, an average of 11.5 jobs over the course of their life, sometimes it doesn’t get any easier. So here’s how to hand over your Dear John letter, whilst not damaging your chances of a shining reference and ensuring your colleagues wish you well, rather than weep over the extra workload that you’re effectively passing to them.
1. Number one – A real no-brainer – Give notice
Don’t simply up sticks and leave, even if you’ve secured a dream position elsewhere and already have references in place.
On the flip side, you should also make yourself aware of your notice period (it’ll be in your contract). Programming is a notoriously pressurised industry – an extra day, can turn into an extra week, month, year – and before you know it you’re wrapped up in a project that could fall apart, without you there… forever.
2. Keep it formal
No matter how great the vibe you have between you and your boss, resigning is a formal process, treat it as such. On the same note, you should also sound out any referee that you’ve named on your CV – you want them to be prepared with words that sing your praises, as opposed to being put on the spot only to trip over their words.
3. Put together a well-worded resignation letter
Simply say thanks, include the formal details, then sign off – there’s no need to give your employer a reason as to why you’re leaving.
As for the best time of the week to quit? Well that’d be Friday afternoon, of course - less time for your boss to fire off questions, an entire weekend for the news to sink in with your team (you know - those who’ve come to rely on you).
Here’s your Dear John letter (tweak and change it as you wish)
Dear [LINE MANAGER’S NAME]:
Today I’d like to inform you of my resignation, to come into effect as of [FINAL DAY OF EMPLOYMENT].
I’m truly grateful for all that [COMPANY NAME] has afforded me, but I feel the time is now right to move onto a new position. I’ve not taken this decision lightly, and will always appreciate my time here.
After much consideration, my decision is final - I’m not looking to change my employment terms, nor am I open to negotiations. I wish all the best for [COMPANY NAME] in the future.
[YOUR NAME – TYPED AND SIGNED]
4. Let your team mates and colleagues know
With the formal part out of the way, you’ll then be able to let your workmates and colleagues know (don’t, I repeat don’t, be tempted to do this before letting your line manager know – a Chinese Whispers resignation never goes down well, whatever the industry).
5. Got something to get off your chest? Now is NOT the time.
You’re leaving, and you’re leaving for a reason. But no matter how much that boss of yours needs telling about himself, regardless as to how ridiculous that non-coder manager’s expectations or deadlines are, you should absolutely avoid letting it all out (no matter how tempting it is).
6. Be ready
Brace yourself – your resignation could see a reaction that you really need to be prepared for. After all, it’s in the company’s best interests to keep you on – as a software developer there are few other professions that involve such a long period of settling in and getting up to speed.
These reactions may include anger, frustration, guilt or sadness – so be ready, stay cool and keep it as un-emotive as possible.
On the flip side, you could well be invited into your line manager’s office – where an attractive counteroffer will be put on the table – bettering your employment terms or increasing your salary. You may be tempted, but remember – you have your reasons for wanting to leave – any sweetener will merely delay the inevitable.
7. Steel yourself for team guilt
As a software dev, you are your team – they rely on you, you rely on them. This collective consciousness is about to be broken the moment you announce your departure. It’s tough, but you really need to fight this overriding feeling of guilt. Life will go on without you – ultimately, anybody is replaceable. Remember – you’re making a business decision – a choice to progress in your career, there’s a whole world out there, beyond the four walls of your office.
8. Don’t ever (ever) threaten to leave, then stay anyway
Once your mind is made up, do it. Don’t use the threat of resignation as a tool to leverage a pay rise or better working conditions, you’ll only create animosity and an awkward working environment. And if you’re backed into a corner and they find a replacement (which they will do, if they consider you a loose cannon), you may well find yourself pushed out with little hope of anything like a shining reference.
9. Do take timeout to train your replacement, thoroughly
This step can be critical to leaving your job on good terms, and not only can it help business go on as usual, it’ll also help your team in carrying on as they were long after you’ve left.
All too often software devs see a company that hurts after their departure as a sign of their inherent value, when in fact any truly valuable employee would be one that trains their replacement the second they’ve accepted their new job.
This will involve documenting everything you can – literally translating the knowledge you have in your head onto paper.
10. And finally – that exit interview – be positive, be constructive
So, it was the worst position of your career – unfair pressures, pie in the sky expectations, projects that were always bloated by scope creep. Now? It’s time for your exit interview - here’s your chance to make a difference for the team that remain behind. Be open, honest and, above all else, be constructive – who knows, your manager may just take on board your comments and be proactive about the changes you suggest.
If you have left your dev job, or you're looking for advice on your next career more – do get in contact with us.