How to Quit a Product Manager Job Without Burning Bridges

product manager best practices

So you’re not happy in your Product Manager job and you’re looking to quit — but how do you quit the right way? Whether it’s your very first job in product management or a long term job you’ve grown into, this article will cover the basics of how to quit your Product Manager job (without burning bridges). After all, you never know when you might meet these coworkers again or need to rely on the network you built here. 

First things first, let’s talk about when quitting your Product Manager job is the right move. 

Should You Quit Your Product Manager Job?

The first question you need to ask yourself when it comes to quitting your job is: “am I being impulsive?” There are many different factors that weigh in here. There may be certain ways that you can change the situation you are currently in, such as asking about progression opportunities, substituting teams, or discussing salary changes. 

However, here are examples of when it is the right time to quit your job: 

  • You’re working in a toxic environment: a toxic working environment can be detrimental to your health, and nothing is more important than ensuring stable mental wellbeing. 
  • It no longer fits in with what you want: it is perfectly normal for what you want for a job to change and evolve. If you feel like your job doesn’t align with what you really want for yourself anymore, this is a perfectly valid reason to move on. 
  • There is a lack of professional and personal development: one job won’t always fulfil your need for professional and personal growth. This desire may be motivated by the desire for more responsibility, a better job title or a higher salary, but it could also be motivated by wanting to learn new skills or gain a wider education. Either way, the want for progression is natural and is a valid reason for quitting. 
  • You lack a sense of purpose: this is probably the most important point of all because without a sense of purpose, you’re not going to be motivated to do well and neither you or your company is going to benefit.
  • You feel you lack influence: this doesn’t necessarily mean that you lack a position of power, but you feel like your input isn’t valued or having a significant impact upon the organization’s output or practices. 
  • You fantasize about another job: it’s pretty simple isn’t it? If you think about all of the points mentioned above and your job isn’t what you want anymore, then moving on is the natural next step. We’re not saying to quit your job tomorrow — you have bills to pay — however, start to plan and put the measures in place so that someday in the near future, you can move on. 

Why You Need to Quit Your Job with Integrity

The biggest mistake in how to quit a Product Manager job is sacrificing your integrity and burning bridges. Firstly, you need to quit with integrity simply because it is the right thing to do and ensures you have a clear conscience. However, as Fast Company states, “your network has incredible power and taking the high road will reap significant dividends.”

People are highly connected. If you’re applying for a new job, chances are your current co-workers or boss will appear as the contact for reference. What’s more, you never know when you may end up working with your team members or bosses again in the future: you are in the same industry after all. With this in mind, let’s move on to how to quit your Product Manager job the right way.

How to Quit Your Product Manager Job: Do’s and Don’ts

So how do you quit your job with integrity? Here’s a step-by-step process you can follow to ensure you leave your team set up to function without you.

Do

  1. To start, you need to provide the required amount of notice to your employer (this normally tends to be two weeks, but it will vary across organizations). In addition, just because you have supplied this and you’re getting ready to leave, you still need to be contributing fully – people will notice if you start to take a step back and start to disengage. 
  2. The first person to tell is your boss. The last thing you want to do is to tell others for it to work its way back to your employer as this could threaten your relationship with them and the great recommendations they could pass on. 
  3. Make sure you have a transition plan in place when it comes to leaving your role and providing your notice period. You need to ensure that you’re tying up any loose ends and you’re leaving any projects in a good enough state for whoever is to take over your role. Ideally, you should be preparing for your replacement: write the job description for your role and be prepared to train your replacement. Presenting your employer with a transition plan when you give your notice is the ultimate professional move: they will remember how well you dealt with the situation.
  4. Show your appreciation to your employer for everything you’ve learned and all the experiences. As Len Schlesinger states, “The bookends — how you start and how you end — are the most important parts of any professional relationship.” Final impressions are just as important as first impressions, especially when your network has such influence over you and your future employers and roles. 
  5. Being transparent is important when it comes to leaving your current position on good terms. Inevitably, your employer will feel a break of trust or a sense of loss when you give notice. It means that for the past month or more, you’ve been interviewing for other jobs. Any extra level of effort and positivity you can inject into the relationship in your last two weeks will make a world of difference.

Don’ts

  1. The most important thing is to not resign until you have a start date for your new gig. Even if the hiring manager tells you they’ll have a job offer by Friday, you say nothing to your current employer until you have the offer in writing.
  2. Don’t be brutally honest when it comes to your exit interview. There are exit interviews for many jobs; even if your time at work wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, be wary. What you say will be remembered by people that have an incredible amount of influence over your future connections and networks. 
  3. Never give different people different reasons as to why you’re leaving your current position. Be as honest as you can be to avoid any confusion.
  4. Don’t brag about your new job. It could be the best job in the world, but the last thing you want to do is boast and irritate those who will provide you with useful connections in the future.
  5. Do not accept a counter offer to stay at your current job. As mentioned above, when you give notice, it will inevitably cause a sense of betrayal and a break of trust. For every time you left early or were out sick, your boss is now wondering if you were actually out interviewing. Working in an environment where that trust is broken is not a good idea. Keep in mind: there was a reason you started looking for a new job in the first place. Don’t be swayed by more money from the job you want to leave.
  6. On a similar note, do not compromise on the notice you’ve given and the day you marked as your final day of work. You want to end the experience with the company on good terms, but even more importantly, you want to start off on the right foot at your new job. Do not sacrifice the first impression you make at your new company for the sake of helping your old company. This is where the transition plan we discussed comes into play: your plan should create enough structure that when your final day of work rolls around, everything is settled and all loose ends are tied off.

Still Have Questions?

If you’re transitioning away from your current role and looking for a new product management position, it helps to have some support. Product Gym is a lifetime membership program for Product Managers, PM job hunters, and product people of all sorts. Getting people jobs in product management is our bread and butter: that makes us very good at assessing where you’re at and equipping you with the knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your dream career in product management. And that includes necessary information like how to make your departure from your previous role as smooth as possible.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager best practices and job search tactics, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of Product Manager training experts. We’d love to hear from you.

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