How to leave your job, but keep the door open
After you hand your notice in, it’s common to feel as though you’re in no man’s land. Although you’re yet to leave, you’re no longer a part of future plans for the business. It can be especially tricky if your position is advertised while you’re still on the job. On top of this, you may feel some nerves about starting your new position, meeting colleagues and proving your worth in an unknown situation. With all of this in the back of your mind, it can be hard to continue working as before. If you’re struggling, you should realise that you won’t just be remembered for your achievements, the way you exit a company will also leave an impression.
Why is a good impression important?
It’s not just a nicety. A smooth exit, which keeps the door open with your former company makes business sense. You may think that you’ll never work somewhere again, but your views may change five years down the line. Research shows that 40 per cent of people would consider returning to a former workplace. Having stepped away to gain extra experience elsewhere, it may make sense to return - taking a higher position at a company you’re already familiar with. Even if this doesn’t happen, it’s a small world, and you may find that your paths cross with old colleagues sooner than you expect.
Complete the job
First and foremost, you should offer to help with the transition of your role from one person to another. If it’s not possible to meet the person who will be taking over, make sure you archive relevant documents and create a thorough handover plan. This should include key calendar dates, contacts and your thoughts on how to progress. Always make sure you finish any outstanding work to the best of your ability. Leaving tasks incomplete will put a strain on the team you’re leaving behind, as well as your successor who won’t thank you if they need to play catch up before they’ve even begun.
Leave on a high note
If anything, now is your time to shine. It’s your last opportunity to prove your success in the job before you start a new chapter. With this in mind, set yourself a couple of goals you’d like to achieve before leaving. Is there anything that you want to tick off your list before you walk through the door? Doing this will be satisfying personally, but it will also make sure you’re not forgotten by the company, your manager and colleagues. Remember that you still need a good reference from your current workplace. A sure-fire way to attain this is to demonstrate your loyalty, commitment and hard work right to the very end of your contract.
Keep positive during exit interviews
Research suggests that half of UK workers have handed in their notice due to a poor relationship with their boss. You may have negative reasons for leaving your current company but try not focus on these – especially during the exit interview. While it’s important to be honest, you should also remain professional. Any feedback you give should be constructive, outlining ways in which managers can create improvements in the future. Above all, try to achieve a balance, acknowledging the highlights of your time working for the company as well as the challenging ones. If you’re asked about your reasons for moving on, always give a positive answer. Seeking career progression, new opportunities, or just a better location and work-life balance are all valid answers in response to this.
Thank people you’ve worked with
Most likely, it’s your colleagues who have kept you going in your job. So, when you hand your notice in, take the time to speak to people individually to let them know your decision. This is also a good opportunity to say thank you for the way in which they’ve supported you. Of course, you’ll need to hand a resignation letter to you manager, but it’s a good idea to send a thank you note separately. Even if you don’t have the best relationship, it’s easier to end this on a good note. Remember, by building experience in your current role, you’ve been able to move onto bigger and better things. Above all, don’t be tempted to leave without saying goodbye. Make sure you arrange to spend time with the team – perhaps by going for drinks after work - before your final day in the office.
Stay in touch
When you’re not seeing people day to day, it can be hard to keep in touch. The level of contact you’d like to have with former colleagues will depend on your relationship with them. However, even if you know someone really well, making contact after you’ve left may feel a little awkward at first. To avoid this, set a date to catch up with friends while you’re still working your notice period. Although it can be a busy time starting a new job, make time to send people a quick message which will prove you haven’t forgotten them. If you’re working nearby, why not pop into the office to say hello sometime during the first month? Another simple idea is to connect with co-workers on LinkedIn and show that you’re still actively following their progress by commenting and liking posts.