After plenty of sleepless nights, you just put in your two weeks’ notice. First things first: Pat yourself on the back for making a hard decision. It’s never easy to leave a job unless you absolutely, 100% hate everything and everyone involved. Now’s the time to let out a sigh of relief and coast for the next 10 days.
Not so fast.
While it’s definitely a time to enjoy a little less stress as you wrap up and hand off ongoing projects, you don’t want to let everything slide. For one, you’ll most definitely run into your co-workers and boss in the future, and you’re not doing yourself any favors if your final impression with them is a bad one. It’s a small world out there, and you never know who you’ll end up working with or for in the future. So don’t burn any bridges: The person who’s not reference today, might end up being the foot in the door you need a few jobs down the line.
Leaving on a good note will be so much easier if you take care of loose ends the minute you know you’re leaving.
Here’s what to do:
I know, it’s last minute and seems counterintuitive since you’ve got a foot out the door already, but you’ll regret not taking advantage of your last chance to see people face-to-face and make some final connections. Maybe you’ve always wanted to ask Jolene about how she got her start as a designer, but you’ve never had the courage to approach her. Or, how about Marcus on the legal team. You heard he used to be in the Peace Corps, an organization you’ve been fascinated with for years, and now you’re kicking yourself for always putting off that coffee date.
Well, as the saying goes, time is of the essence. Making a connection now will not only benefit you in the future, but doing it before you head out the door will be easier, simply because of proximity, and convenience—which shouldn’t be underestimated. And once you have it, it’ll feel more natural to keep in touch online.
2. Save It
Now’s the time to discard any minimalist tendencies and go into full hoarding mode to save everything you think may have some use to you in the future. This means forwarding important emails to your personal account, uploading any documents you need to your personal Google drive, and copying down any contact information from co-workers or clients that you may want in the future. (Note: Just don’t break any company rules while doing this.)
In one of my old positions, I naively assumed that I’d have the same share-drive access that I had before because I was making an internal move. Well, that didn’t turn out as expected, which messed me up for a good while when it could have been as easy as taking the time to upload my work.
3. Clean Up
More than once or twice, when I started at a new position, I had the glamorous task of cleaning out the desk, file cabinet, and sometimes computer that my predecessor left behind. Whether it was piles of personal information (like health records and bank documents), or pretzel crumbs and a sticky keyboard, I was stuck tidying up.
You know that annoying Boy Scout saying, “Always leave a place better than you found it?” Well, we’re not too old (or too jaded, hopefully) to employ that sentiment in the workplace. Take a few minutes to pack up your belongings, clean out your drawers, give your desk a disinfectant swipe, and leave things looking decent for your replacement. Don’t assume your company’s going to be organized enough to take care of these small but important details.
Once the important stuff is done, you can focus on your personal branding update. Even if that phrase makes you shudder, “No, I don’t have a brand,” you actually do.
Take a moment to check out your social media accounts and note what’ll need to be changed once you leave (such as your LinkedIn title or your Twitter bio). Oh, and if you were able to ask your manager for an endorsement before putting in your notice, check to see that it reflects on your page now, rather than after you’ve left.
And while this might not be possible for all organizations, see if you can have your work email address set to auto-respond that you no longer work in your prior position and can now be reached at your personal email. If it’s not possible, make sure your most important contacts have your new contact info.
5. Leave on a Good Note
If you have certain processes that you developed to make your job more efficient or easier, go ahead and update any relevant instructional documents. If there are any last things you owe your co-workers, or boss, make sure you deliver, or hand off to someone else if necessary.
While some people will always assume a person on his or her way out the door has a case of senioritis, you don’t have to prove them right. And, while you should be considerate simply because it’s the right thing to do, think about how you’d like to start at your new job. No one enjoys unraveling and finishing a predecessor’s project.
While the last thing you probably want is to add more items to your to-do list, keeping track and getting everything closed out at one job will help you start your new one with a clean slate and the freedom to focus. I’ll tell your from experience that you don’t want to spend your first week emailing, calling, or texting your old IT guy, to see if there’s any possible way he can recover that one document you left on your desktop. Just trust me on this one.