Leaving a job is usually a bittersweet experience, even if you’re leaving because you just can’t take it anymore. There’s always something good, something we’ll miss, a mark that’s been left on our lives forever. Once you’ve handed in your notice, your last couple weeks with the company will fly by, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important. I gave my most recent employer six weeks’ notice because I knew I’d have a lot to transition to those taking over my responsibilities, and I still felt like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to in that time.
Once you know you’re ready to give notice, or shortly after you do, make a list of things you want to get done before you walk out the door. Your list may vary depending on your specific position and situation, but these are a few broad things to keep in mind:
1. Document your accomplishments
Especially if you’ve been in a position a long time, chances are you’ve achieved a lot, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Take some time to reflect on your time with the company—consider any major achievements, promotions, initiatives you participated in, or processes you helped implement. These accomplishments can be added to your resume or be used in an interview for your next position. It’s also a nice way to reflect on how far you’ve come, and may remind you of skills you didn’t realize you had.
2. Help with the transition
To the extent possible, help the company through the transition of your exit. Offer to help train a replacement, gather important documents and transfer them to the appropriate people, offer to help tie up any loose ends. Transfer any specific knowledge you have about your position to the people who will be covering your workload after you leave. Offer to answer any questions your coworkers may have about your duties or skillset. A cooperative attitude will go a long way toward maintaining rapport with your team and manager.
3. Keep in touch
If you want to stay in touch with any of your coworkers, send them your contact information and request theirs, or meet for coffee before you leave. Connections are important, whether you end up working together again someday, or establish a long-term friendship. You can also take this time to request references from your supervisor or colleagues, assuming you’re on good terms with them and feel comfortable doing so.
4. Stay positive
Even if you’re leaving because your job is the absolute worst, try not to let it show during your final weeks. If it helps, keep a countdown to remind you that it’s almost over. Make the effort to show your boss and colleagues that you still care about your work and aren’t going to drop the ball just because you’re one foot out the door. Chances are, there’s at least one good thing about your workplace, so draw on the fond memories and keep your head in the game. Try not to burn bridges, and leave your employer with a positive impression of your time there.
Whatever the reasons, leaving a job isn’t always easy. Give yourself credit for having the courage to quit, and the courage to stick with it during your final days or weeks on the job. Be proud of yourself. Plan some time with friends, or treat yourself to a nice dinner or dessert. You’re moving on to the next chapter in your life, and it’s time to celebrate.
Amanda Baczek is an aspiring graphic designer and current arranger of words (sometimes good ones.) She finds fiction writing to be the greatest antidote to reality, but has a passion for connecting with the outside world through all forms of the written word. A recovering worst-case scenario expert, she's learning to be okay with change and uncertainty, and hopes to help others discover the joy and freedom in listening to their creative heartbeat and following their craziest dreams.