Moving on: how to leave a job in a positive way

A few weeks ago I was contacted by an inspiring new social enterprise: Live Your 20s. It was created to help support people in their 20s as they navigate career, finance, mental health and relationships.

I was immediately moved by the concept, and the fact that volunteers actively give up their time to source experts who can answer their members’ questions. It’s also so valuable to be able to find support networks (at any age) where you can talk openly about your struggles, fears, goals and aspirations. 

Another aspect that moved me was the question I was asked to give feedback on…

“I’m transitioning out of my current role from one agency to another. I got my current role through doing a placement and have been there ever since. 

As this would be my first time moving to another place in a professional environment, I’m unsure how to tell my bosses in a way that doesn’t make me sound ungrateful or negative about the experience they’ve provided. Any advice on how to transition out, positively, would be greatly appreciated!”

This is someone in their 20s who wants to show gratitude to the people who gave them their first job, and make sure they leave in a positive way. This shows a high degree of emotional intelligence and is a far cry from the perceptions some people have about younger generations and their attitudes towards work. 

So how do you leave a role in a positive way?

Moving on from any organisation – whether you’ve been there for 12 months or 12 years – is never easy. But it is something almost everyone will face at some point in their career. 

Early in my own career I received this great piece of advice:

How you leave an organisation is as significant and important as how to join one. How you do it reflects on you. 

Similarly, how organisations do it says a lot about their culture and what they truly value. 

I used this advice for many years as I transitioned between roles in the public sector, and then again when I transitioned out to start Kim Vella Coaching. 

In terms of advice on how to transition out in a positive way, my advice is clear and simple…


  • Accentuate the positives – tell your boss what you are grateful for, how the experience has benefited you, and how it’s helped you be ready for the next step in your career.
  • Share your excitement about your new role.
  • Maintain your relationships – especially in Canberra, your reputation will precede you. You never know who you will cross paths with in the future.
  • Say you look forward to working with them again if the opportunity arises.
  • Collaborate to prepare for an effective handover. Focus on what your boss or manager sees as a priority for the rest of your time there.


  • Gossip or offload negative feedback. It’s not worth it. You want people to remember you and the way you left in a good way.  

The last point I would make is the power of gratitude, and the fact that this young person said they wanted their bosses to know they were grateful. 

Gratitude is such a powerful emotion, and something I believe we should all try to feel as much as possible. While you may not be able to feel it all day every day, it’s important to pinpoint at least one thing you feel grateful for each day. 

A mindset of gratitude can literally change your life. 

If you need specific career advice, you’re welcome to book a free 15 minute coaching session with me (this link will take you right to my calendar so you can choose an available timeslot that suits you). 

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