Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The end of days: Preparing to leave your job

The most common reason that I've had for leaving a job is relocating. It all started when I was 18 and I had a Christmas break seasonal gig at the Gap near my parents house. I didn't have a car at the time and my college was 30 minutes away, so I left that job after 2 weeks (it took them almost 2 weeks to hire me in the first place when I got home from break). Not a "relocation" per se, but it was geographic. In the past five years, though, it's been OC to NYC to OC to Sac/Davis, and now to Miami.

Now, I understand that most people leave jobs for a variety of other reasons. Either way, the last days at a job can be stressful. Here are some tips for easing the transition.
  • Give appropriate notice. This might be two weeks or it might be more like two months. It depends on your office culture, how early you know you'll be leaving, and the type of preparation that needs to be done before you leave. For example, if you want to be around to train your replacement, give at least a month notice so your employer has time to recruit and hire.
  • Wind down and wrap up. About two weeks before you leave, you should stop taking on any new long-ish term projects. Sit down with your supervisor to plan out the transition and lay out what tasks you should finish before you leave and what tasks can be delegated to a coworker or replacement.
  • Keep a record. If your work produces materials or products, see if you can get some samples of your projects for your portfolio. It's always easier just to have them on hand than to try to hunt them down later if you want or need them. In my line of work, I just keep a running file...anytime we're done with a project I throw one of the finished pieces in my drawer.
  • Clean out. If you're anything like me with my crazy amount of files, it's a nice courtesy to go through the files and clean out the unnecessary ones so your replacement isn't swimming in useless papers. If you're as crazy as I am, you'll also leave a print out of what exactly those files contain.
  • Carry over your contacts. If you're staying in the same town or same industry, or even if you just really like your coworkers, go ahead and share your personal contact info with them if you'd like. I've had former coworkers do this to me in the past when they left, so I took a cue from them and did the same when I left.
  • Keep it professional. Avoid getting bitter or vengeful about your old job, even if you are leaving because you can't stand it. While you may want to give a few suggestions on how to improve things in your exit interview, I'd caution against all-out venting. My advice--if you bring up a problem or annoyance, come up with a solution as well. 
How do you prepare to leave a job? What advice do you have?


  1. Such great advice! The main reason I've left jobs has been due to school. These are great tips if I ever need to leave the jobs I'm at!

    The Bombshell Manifesto

  2. great advice would be same as urs...since ur leaving..let bygones be bygones and leave with good relations with evryone!!!

  3. Great tips Angeline! It can be hard to focus once you put in your two weeks and it's weird to feel like you can't really be a part of any planning conversations. I think you have to do your best to stay positive, continue to work hard, and leave on a good note.

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