We talk so much about “getting” a job–heck, our HAPPO initiative was partly developed as a way to help those around us find a job. But, we so rarely talk about the best way to leave a job. Yet, it’s something 99.99995 % of us will do at one point or another in our careers.
So, why the lack of conversation around the topic?
Because it’s hard.
Because it involves personal relationships and feelings.
And, because we usually like to keep those kinds of things private. Off blogs and Twitter.
But nevertheless, the issue still comes up. Every day for PR and marketing professional across the country.
Why is this topic so important? Because the manner in which you leave a job is frequently just as, or in some cases more important than the way in which you accept a job.
What do I mean? Think about the last job you left. Did you leave on good terms? Do you keep in touch with your former colleagues? Are they still employed by your former employer?
PR and marketing communities are usually quite small–even in the largest of markets. Here in Minneapolis, the cross-over in the PR field is mind-boggling. Sure, there are thousands of people employed in the PR field across the Twin Cities. But seemingly, we all know each other. My point: The community may be big in numbers, but when it comes to relationships, it’s actually quite small (read: Everyone knows everyone).
What does that mean for you? That you can’t afford to burn bridges. That it actually behooves you to stay in touch with those former colleagues after you leave that job. That it means a lot to be honest and fair when you shut the door on that employer.
Yes, how you leave your job is that important. Ask anyone.
OK, fine, so it’s important. I get it. What do I do then, you ask? How do I leave gracefully? And how do I close the door when my employer isn’t making it easy? As someone who’s been through this process more times than I’d care to admit, I thought I’d share a few of my tips today:
* Schedule an exit interview–even if your employer doesn’t. Sounds odd, right? Why would you do this? Certainly not to vent your frustrations. But instead, to share your experience as a way to help your manager down the road. Without critical information about the challenges and nuances of your job, your manager may end up repeating some of the mistakes he/she may have made with you. Don’t let that happen. At the very least, have one private conversation before you leave where you can openly discuss your experience in the role you’re leaving. Remember, aim to help your manager.
* Identify three people you’re going to keep in touch with. The key here is focus. The last two weeks of any job usually play out with a series of the same statement: “Let’s keep in touch.” 90 percent of the time, what happens? You don’t keep in touch. Why not? Because you rattled off that statement to too many people, in most cases. I’m saying pick three people you genuinely want to stay in contact with and deliberately work to make that happen. You can’t possibly stay in touch with everyone–so why try?
* Go out of your way to say thanks to your boss’s boss. Try to get 10 minutes on the schedule of your boss’s boss before you leave–even if that person is the CEO. In that meeting, come prepared to simply say thank you for the opportunity to work with the organization and lay out three quick reasons why you enjoyed your time at the company. Include personal anecdotes, if possible, and if it’s appropriate, talk about the qualities you admire in your current boss. In some cases, it can be a tough conversation to have, but trust me, just the mere fact that you request the meeting and actually have this discussion will set you apart from 95 percent of the other employees at the company–and your boss’s boss will remember you for it.
* Assemble stories and share liberally. Those last two weeks of your job go fast and before you know it, you’re out the door. Use some of that time to reflect on stories and anecdotes from your time with the employer. Exceptional experiences that made your time there worthwhile (even in the worst jobs, there’s always a few experiences you can pull from). Keep these in your hip pocket until your last day–then, make sure to share them liberally. With your boss. With your colleagues. And with those who report to you (if applicable). People form strong opinions about others based on their most recent interactions with you. For former co-workers, this is often those meetings and conversations on your last day. Make ’em count by sharing wonderful stories about the positive experiences you had working with them and for the company.
Those are my tips. What about you? What advice do you have to share about leaving your job on the right note?