We all change jobs. Some people do it a lot more frequently than others and sometimes it isn’t our choice, but when it is, there are things that we can do to make it a positive experience. It’s tempting to sing the infamous “Take this Job and Shove it” song, but here’s a better way:
1. Give plenty of notice. Leaving your company hanging is not a good thing. Give them time to start searching for your replacement.
2. Make a plan. No one knows your job better than you do and you won’t be able to finish every project before you go. Make a list of upcoming due dates and project statuses. Make recommendations for who can carry the ball on those projects until your replacement is on board and up to speed. Communicate it to the key players. They may not agree with all of your recommendations, but they’ll appreciate having a starting point to work from.
3. Organize your work. It’s likely to be your co-workers who will have to pick up the pieces after you leave. Don’t leave them a desk full of trash to sort through. Organize and label your files, clean out the old stuff that no one needs.
4. Don’t forget to say thank you. Give thank you notes to the people who helped you during your time with the company. You will want them to remember you in the future. Just to add some spice to mine once, I also included gift pens from my alma mater. Since we’d always had a big rivalry going, they were a great parting gift.
5. Never burn your bridges. Companies can and do rehire people, but more often they serve as references long into the future. Aim to leave a trail of positive fans behind you as you build your career.
6. Be honest and professional with your exit interview. Exit interviews aren’t the place to rehash every grievance that you’ve had during your employment. They are a good place to provide some constructive feedback and make recommendations to help your co-workers.
7. Have some professional fun on your way out the door. An exit should be fun. Leave on a positive note.
In the grand scheme of things, I’ve only left a couple of jobs. For one, I volunteered to organize the company golf outing that was on my last day. For another, I left on Halloween, so I wore a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat on my last day. In every case, I’ve kept in touch with my closest co-workers. We dedicated a lot of time to working well together and that shouldn’t change just because one of us has moved on to greener pastures. It’s a lot better than storming out in a huff.