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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

Ask a Career Coach: How Do I Leave My Job on the Best Possible Note?

Hi Kyle,

I’ve given notice at my job, and I’m leaving in six weeks. No one is upset; in fact, everyone is being supportive of my move. The issue is that I’m finding it hard to be motivated and worried that these six weeks are going to drag on. Because I work quite quickly, I’ll have nothing to do for the last few weeks. How do I keep myself going and not give up mentally?

Thumb Twiddler

Dear Thumb Twiddler,

It sounds like this is an intentional move, so first, congrats! There are lots of ways to leave your mark once you give notice you’re quitting, and the fact that you have six whole weeks (less by the time you’re reading this), means you can cover all the important stuff.

You always hear “don’t burn bridges,” but there’s so much more you can do besides leaving all bridges intact. Here are a few things (that’ll show returns later in your career).

Leave a Legacy

Leaving something for your former colleagues to talk about long after you depart will seriously boost your professional rep which, in turn, will make future outreach to these connections much easier. Think about problems you ran into in your daily routine or things that took a long time to learn when you first started.

You may have been too busy to fix a drawn-out process or show your co-workers a workaround that you discovered while you were up to your neck in work, which is why now is the perfect time to tackle these items. Writing a handbook on your role or simply documenting a process you followed will leave your name on something tangible that will make your former co-workers lives easier.

Train Your Replacement

Nothing will make your immediate team and manager happier than getting a replacement up to speed quickly. Not to mention, training a new hire is an incredible experience. This won’t always be possible when you have a short timeline, but there’s typically something small you can do.

Whether it’s helping write the job description for your role, getting involved in the hiring process, or offering to work alongside the new person for a week (or even a day, if that’s all you can spare), see what you can do to reduce the stress on the rest of the organization. Nobody can explain how to do your job better than you, so pass on your knowledge to leave a lasting mark.

Bolster Your Professional Brand

You’re currently on your way out of an organization, and the terms are good. Presumably you still have access to your email, and you have the opportunity to speak with your co-workers in person before your departure.

Use this time to network! This is a great chance for you to buy a few of your close colleagues (especially managers) a coffee and tell them about your next move. A final real-life interaction will make connecting and interacting online much easier. After all, these are the people who you might want ask to endorse and recommend you on LinkedIn.

In the end, you may still find yourself with some idle time in your final days, and that’s OK. You’ve checked all the boxes by giving ample notice and informing everyone who will be affected. Be helpful and offer your time and expertise where you can.

People tend to remember the last interactions they have with you—so arguably that final impression is just as, if not more, important as the first. I know it’s challenging not to mentally check out, but if you’ve read this far, that doesn’t seem likely.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Credible Career Coach in the subject line.

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Photo of colleagues in casual conversation courtesy of Morsa Images/Getty Images.