When the time comes to say sayonara to your employer, those final few days make a big difference for your professional future. Whether you’ve quit your job or you’ve been let go, here are the six things you need to make sure you do before you walk out the door on your last day of work.
It seems to be “quitting season” these days. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this year has seen the largest percentage (2.4%) of employed Americans quitting their jobs (the biggest percentage since 2001, according to Forbes).
Chances are, if you’ve given your resignation (or been told you’re about to be laid off), you’ve mentally moved on from your current employer. Of course, as greener pastures await you, it’s tempting to slack off in those final few days or let your guard down and tell some key people *exactly* what you think of their annoying work habits.
However, if you use those final days strategically, you can set yourself up for a much better career trajectory in the long run. After all, this job you’re taking may not be your last, with median tenure being 2.8 years for those 25 to 34, and slightly longer tenures for workers older than that. You’ll want good relationships and excellent references for the next career move you make after this one.
Here’s what to do in the final few days of a job to set yourself up for future success:
- Secure your future references. Personally walk over (if you’re in the same office, or call if you’re not) and ask 3-4 people if they’ll be a reference for you. Offer to reciprocate. Make sure you have their direct phone numbers (and a cell phone number if they’ll share it). If you’re on good terms with your boss, give your boss your career highlights & future talking points for references (same for HR & your boss’s boss, if possible).
- Get personal emails and/or get connected on LinkedIn. You may have a buddy’s work email, but if your colleague moves to a new role and you’re not connected, you may have a permanent “missed connection.” Gather emails and connect to as many fellow employees as possible on LinkedIn before your last day of work.
- Get what you need for a portfolio or future work samples. Don’t take confidential information if you’ve signed a confidentiality agreement, or papers that someone needs for a project / task… but DO take copies of awards, press releases, major initiatives you led, and useful templates.
- Gather “results” now for your next resume update. Think ahead about the resume you’ll write AFTER this one and what you might need/want on it. Now the time to ask your colleagues for metrics, statistics, results, or other growth metrics while they’re still fresh and easily gathered.
- Finish your work. Don’t be “that person” who leaves complications for others. Close out what you can, even if it means extra work at the end, and/or hand it off in a very organized way to the next person.
- Change your LinkedIn profile email address that’s associated with your profile to your personal email address. If you’re like many people who connect their LinkedIn profile to their work email, if you forget this step you risk losing access to your account notifications and potential new connections.
Make your last impression be a positive one. Personally walk around (if you are in the same location) before your last day of work and thank people individually rather than sending a mass thank you email. Remember to speak positively in your last few days, no matter how toxic your work environment has been; otherwise, people may remember you for your complaining and not your abilities. And last but not least, clean up after yourself, figuratively and literally, since the person who follows you will probably gossip about you if you leave your coffee-stained papers or old snack crumbs in the corner of your desk drawer.
After all, making sure you leave things in tip-top shape now can only help you the NEXT time you quit and want your current coworkers to say great things about you.