So, you’ve decided to move on to a new job. Hopefully, this is an exciting time in which you’re looking forward to a fresh start and planning what to do with all your new opportunities. But your old job isn’t quite done. Don’t forget that you need to leave your role in the right way, too. While you might not be seeing your old colleagues every day anymore, departing from them on good terms is still important for your career. Here are some tips for leaving your job with professionalism, tact, and goodwill.
Jun 24, 2020
Speak to your colleagues in person
You could leave it to an all-office email being sent out by the HR department for your colleagues to find out about your departure. But that might seem a little sterile. Your colleagues will feel more valued if you let them know in person. Speak to those on your team who will be most directly affected first, to give them a heads up that things will be changing and help them plan their workload accordingly. This common courtesy will be appreciated.
Leave time to tie up all the loose ends
Are there any property transactions in your list of active matters that have been rumbling on for months, and on which action is required sooner rather than later? Any personal injury claims with a deadline for lodging papers fast approaching? You don’t want to leave these things to a colleague to discover once you’re gone, leading to them spending a late night in the office trying to sort the issue out while silently blaming you for not dealing with it before you left. Go through your case list and work out what is outstanding, and make sure all the required action items are listed.
Because you’ll need to review all your old cases, your last few weeks at a firm can often be among the most hectic. Start planning well in advance, and make sure you allow time to get everything wrapped up. If you need a rest before starting your new job, then don’t rely on your last weeks in your old job to provide it – it would be much better to leave a week or so between your end date and your next job’s start date.
Don’t burn any bridges
Back in high school, the last day of your final year seemed like a free pass to behave however you wanted: have a water balloon fight, cover the cafeteria in confetti, or hide a sheep in the principal’s office (ok, that last one might only be for the most adventurous). But your last day with your current company is not going to be quite the same free-for-all. Of course, you were unlikely to be planning a high school-style escapade (for one, an out-of-place farm animal probably won’t seem as hilarious 20 years later). But you might think that your last few weeks are a time when you can take your feet completely off the gas, or even be less discreet about your true opinion of your boss.
However, it’s important not to burn any bridges with your old employer. It’s crucial to maintain a solid reputation in the legal industry. Even if you really won’t work with these people again, isn’t it possible that they’ll discuss you with other people who don’t know you, but with whom you might come into contact? Keep your reputation high by staying professional right to the last day.
Focus on the positives
Your manager and your colleagues will probably be asking you why you’re leaving. In your explanation, focus on positive reasons – especially to your manager or to those colleagues with whom you don’t have a close friendship. Talk about the new challenges and what you want to achieve at your new place – not about the things that you’re desperate to leave behind.
Moving on in your career can be exciting. Spend your last days finishing the job in your old position in a professional manner, and you’ll be all set for your next stage.