By Kathleen Sullivan
Many people believe that a first impression is the most important impression you make. However, when you are leaving your job, your last impression is the most important impression, if not the only impression, you will make. To ensure that your last impression is a good impression, follow these eight ways to make a graceful exit from your job.
1. Meet with your manager or supervisor in person to give your notice, unless you are located remotely. Having a face to face conversation shows respect for your employer and allows him to ask any related questions.
2. Provide a brief, professional rationale for why you are leaving your job: a better opportunity, a more convenient schedule or commute, or your interest in a career change. Do not air any differences or disappointments you have with your current role or organization. An employer will understand your desire for self-improvement, but will not appreciate hearing your complaints at that time.
3. Give at least a two weeks’ notice. If you are in a management position or play a critical role in an important project, offer three to four weeks’ notice. A reasonable notice will lessen the impact on your employer of losing your expertise and allow him some time to find a permanent or temporary solution.
4. Document your job responsibilities, processes, contacts, including any technologies, tools, or resources you use to perform your job. Even a good manager will not know the details of how you perform your job on a daily basis and this information will allow him to have an easier transition.
5. Offer to provide training to your successor. If there is an overlap between the time when you give your notice and the time when you leave the organization, share any information, resources, or skills you use to assist the person who will assume your responsibilities. Remember that you received job information and training, and your employer will appreciate your support with onboarding the next person. You may even offer to be available for a brief follow up call or email for a short period of time after you leave.
6. Do not slack off. It may be tempting to sit back and anticipate a new start, but staying focused and productive will cause your manager and colleagues to remember you as dedicated and loyal even if you are leaving.
7. Wrap up as many loose ends of your job as possible. Finish as much work as you can and communicate to your manager or successor any tasks you have not been able to complete. They will experience enough uncertainty when you leave and you will lessen their anxiety if you are clear about the status of your projects.
8. Say goodbye to colleagues, clients, and vendors. You have invested time and energy working with these people and may have professional contact again with them in the future. Let them know you are leaving and express your appreciation for having worked with them. In some cases, you may wish to continue your professional relationship with them and ask for contact information or to connect with them on LinkedIn.
If you follow these tips, your last impression will be a good impression. This impression will follow you long after you leave an organization, particularly if you want references and or to network. Your professional image is one of your most valuable career assets. Be sure to continue to cultivate and maintain your image as you leave your job. You will never get a second chance to make your last impression a good impression.