Co-Authored by Michelle Reeb, CEO of The Top Candidate and Nicole Reeb, Award Winning Author#CareerAdvice
The manner in which you leave a team matters just as much, if not more, than the manner in which you join a team. Why? It’s your colleagues’ most recent impression of you at a time when you could benefit from them as a reference or a lead for a new opportunity.
Think about your former colleagues and their last two weeks on the job. Did any of them become shocked, dazed or disengaged? Did they become angry, full of resentment? Did they exude excitement, focused exclusively on their future with a clear plan in place for the road ahead? Or did they have no idea what their future would hold, but held faith and confidence that everything would turn out okay? You can learn from these experiences as you choose your own exit strategy.
Whether you are leaving your job proactively, or are being forced out by your employer, there are actions you can take to make the most of your departure, leaving your team with a positive and lasting impression as you forge relationships that will support you now and well into your future.
Imagine Your Beautiful Future
When one adventure ends and another is about to begin, it’s often fraught with uncertainty. Our natural fear of the unknown creeps in, shedding doubt upon the road that lies ahead. Even if you have landed a new job, it is only human nature to feel some anxiety as you anticipate high expectations in your foreseeable future.
You can alleviate some of your anxiety and fears by forging a strong vision of the future you want to come to life. The stronger the vision, the more likely you are to take the right action that will make your imagined future your new reality.
Once you have a strong image of the beautiful future that lies ahead, it is easier to reflect upon your exit with fondness and appreciation, recognizing that you would not be able to get to this future you imagine without taking the leap forward from your current role and into the amazing life that awaits you.
Walk The Halls With Pride
When you’re going through a tough situation, it’s easy to want to hide in your own cocoon, looking at the floor and slouching to close yourself off from the world. You are an amazing person and you have given so much to this company. Stand tall and be proud! Even if you work remotely, the tone of your emails can sound as though you are in hiding, versus letting your vivacious spirit shine through. As you focus on the positive and celebrate your colleagues and your successes, you’ll naturally be encouraged to engage with them, exuding confidence in who you are and the value you bring to your team and gratitude for the experience you’ve had during your time with your company.
Create Lasting Bonds Of Friendship
With only two weeks left, it’s time to make the most of every exchange. Prepare a list of the people you’d like to keep in touch with. Take time to meet with them before you leave and cultivate a bond by discussing shared successes or thanking them for something you learned from them. If there is something you appreciate about them, this is a great time to let them know. Is there something you can be doing now to help them through this transition? Ask and offer any help you can provide.
This is a wonderful opportunity to ask them for feedback on what they enjoyed most about working with you and advice on what you can improve. This could also be a good time to request a recommendation on LinkedIn and offer to provide them with a recommendation in return. Set the stage for a lasting bond of friendship by asking for their permission to keep in touch and obtain their personal email address, if you don’t already have it.
This type of conversation often opens the door for your colleagues to ask you about your future career move. If you know what your next move is, you can share your plan. If you don’t know what lies ahead and are seeking opportunities, this is your chance to tell them what you want in your next role and ask if they know of any opportunities that could be a good fit. If they don’t know of anything at this moment, they will be thinking of you as they learn of opportunities over the coming weeks and months. Check in a few weeks after you leave to see how they’re doing, and how things are going with your replacement.
Show Your Gratitude
Recognize the people who help you advance your career by thanking them for their time and efforts. If they are introducing you to people and great opportunities, they are putting their personal and professional reputation on the line for your benefit. Acknowledging their efforts and thanking them will mean the world to them and it’s a simple action that is often overlooked, but should be done.
Defer Your Negative Emotions
It’s easy to fall prey to worry and concern for the future that lies ahead and to harbor resentment for experiences that didn’t go the way you wanted them to. The emotions you feel when a relationship with your job ends can be just as strong as they are with any relationship in your life. You may need time to grieve the loss of your job, but bringing your grief to work can hurt you. You have a very limited window of opportunity to leave a lasting impression. You will leave an impression no matter what you do. The question is, what kind of lasting impression do you want to leave?
Think about the legacy you want to leave behind before you enter the office each morning of your final two weeks. If you have negative feelings, we encourage you to honor these very real emotions away from the office and, ideally, defer them until after you’ve enjoyed your last day at work. Bringing these emotions to work might give coworkers the impression that you still need time to grieve, so they will not proactively help you discover your next great opportunity because they think you are not ready for it. Instead of becoming detached or bringing negative views to the office, why not celebrate the good memories and amazing people you’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Are you having trouble seeing the good in your situation? Try this: Think of one thing that is good about your situation. For example, if you were miserable in your job, can you see the good in being forced to seek a more pleasant work situation? How did you benefit from even the toughest people around you? You might also reflect upon what you learned, what you accomplished and how you made your situation and the lives of the people around you better. Focusing on even one or two favorable memories will help you remain positive while you’re at work.
Though your last two weeks on the job can be a difficult time, it’s also a great time to celebrate your prideful team accomplishments with your colleagues. Get together for lunch or a happy hour to reminisce about shared successes and fun times together. Not only is this a great bonding experience and leaves everyone feeling a sense of pride and gratitude in your work, it also reminds your colleagues of your role in your shared successes, which comes in handy if they are called upon as a reference.
A celebration helps you say goodbye on a positive note. Keep in mind that goodbye for now isn’t always goodbye forever. Make a concerted effort to keep in touch. You never know when your former colleagues will be able to open the door to an amazing future opportunity.
Your last two weeks on the job leaves a lasting impression. Reflect upon all the good that has come from this experience. What you learned, who you met, how you were challenged and how you grew in your role and as a person. Think about the situation you were in when you walked in the door and how have left this position in better shape than when you started. You have something special to offer and you shared your talents and gifts with your team and this company. You did your best and you can’t ask anything more of yourself. Be grateful! Be proud! Stand tall! And enjoy every moment of the journey into what’s next.
If there is anything you would add to the list, comment or send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your ideas!
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Michelle Reeb, CEO of The Top Candidate, is a candidate advocate, career coach, personal branding strategist and author of The Top Candidate Playbook. She is passionate about helping candidates rise to the top to seize the career opportunities you desire, whether you are actively pursuing a new role now or planning ahead for a career move in the future. Nicole Reeb is Michelle’s daughter and an award-winning author in the “What Makes You Proud Of America” essay contest.
Content provided by The Top Candidate, DAA’s Career Center Sponsor.