What to Do When Leaving a Job

There are checklists when leaving a job to make sure work goes smoothly. This checklist will make sure your relationships go smoothly.

October 18, 2022
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2
min read

Photo by @AndreyPopov on Freeimages.com

Last week I wrote about the importance of a last impression when leaving a job. That’s all well and good but you may be asking: how exactly do I do that? Here’s a checklist to help you leave on a high note. Note that these are not all the formal tasks to do when leaving (like rolling over your 401k or setting your email autoreply), just the ones related to ensuring a good last impression among your soon-to-be-former co-workers.

Look for loose ends, and tie them up

Tying up loose ends is important. It might be documenting some process, tools, or IP you created. Even better is making sure you didn’t miss any loose ends. Ask your boss and co-workers what things they need for you and add their input to the list you created.

Hand-off & run through before you leave

Handing people the documentation (or leaving it on their virtual desktop) is preferable to not leaving any. Better still is walking them through it. With software, good engineers create backups. Better engineers test those backups. Far too often in an emergency situation someone tries to restore from backup only to find something didn’t work. You don’t want to find the fire extinguisher empty just as you need it to fight a fire. While you might have a formal exit interview with your boss, be sure to have formal or informal hand-off sessions with your co-workers.

Ideally, during the days or weeks prior to your leaving, have whoever is covering doing the task try to do it and shadow them. It’s one thing to say “this is what you need to do” or even showing them, it’s another for them to do it. This is why we practice everything from fire drills to driving a car before we do it for real. If something is mission critical, even better than telling them how to do it when you’re gone, is to be there as they try to do it before you’re gone.

Endorse people

Write some recommendations on Linkedin or similar sites for your co-workers. You’re not going to remember the details in three years so do it now. It’s like a thank you letter to them, only public so it helps them in their careers, too. Many will reciprocate. You can also directly ask for recommendations as you’re leaving. Again, it’s better to get them now since memories will fade over time.

Thank people and say goodbye

You probably worked with many people and you may not write such public thank yous for all. Reaching out to thank someone is appreciated and meaningful. You can thank people for helping you with a project, things they taught you or just being a good colleague. Even just a quick chat (IRL or by video) or an email saying goodbye is important. It’s a way to say, “I think you’re special or important enough to say goodbye to.”

Make Yourself Available

Many people not only provide their contact info, such as an email, but offer to be available if there are questions after they leave. I’ve rarely seen anyone take them up and when they do, it’s usually just a quick call or email. It says to others that you’re not leaving them high and dry if something was missed.

Follow up

It’s much earlier to say “let’s keep in touch” than it is to actually do so. Try to plan time to get together in a few months. Even if you don’t plan anything, set a calendar reminder to yourself to reach out.

Jobs are short, careers are long. This job may be ending but your career will continue, as will the onion your former co-workers have of you. Last Impressions Matter, too. Putting the above on your checklist as you leave can help you make them good ones.

If you have anything else that I may have missed, please share. Good luck with your new role!

By
Mark A. Herschberg
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