A Linkedin study reports that millennials will change jobs about four times before turning 32, so a bit of career hopping is in the cards for most of us. Whether you’re leaving on good terms with your former company, or seeking out a healthier work environment, it’s important to treat your exit strategy with as much focus as your job search. After all, you never want to burn a bridge in your haste for something new.
Make sure you complete these five final tasks to ensure your career and reputation head in a positive direction.
1. Anticipate the Needs of Your Current Team
Don’t create an undue burden for your soon-to-be former co-workers. Do your best to transfer any pending accounts to the new account managers, do a final call to your clients and make sure they are clear about who their primary contact will be.
If possible, plan to spend about a week allowing your replacement to job shadow you in your position, so they can ask questions and learn from the best! If this isn’t possible, spend your last few days at your current position creating process docs and checklists so that it will be easy for someone to come in, fill your shoes, and keep the wheels moving.
Brittany Lamp, Digital Brand Manager at Dita Eyewear suggests that you “make sure that everyone around you feels comfortable with your exit plan. Consider how you can make the smoothest transition out of your position. Lastly, stay positive. Be cooperative and keep working hard up until your last minute.”
How much you stay in contact after your departure is a personal decision, but it is sometimes worth the effort in maintaining a professional relationship to offer to answer any high priority questions a few days or weeks after you’ve left. They’ll likely not take you up on it, but the gesture is meaningful, especially if they are overwhelmed.
2. Take Stock of Recent Wins
PR moves so fast that successes are easy to forget about. Did you have a series of successful placements, help to bring on new clients, improve an agency process or execute a campaign that increased web traffic by big percentages? Get those details down on paper before you forget. It’s so much easier to update and track progress when you’re thinking about it versus months, or even years later. In the excitement of a new job, this is an easy step to overlook—why look behind when you can look ahead? But an updated resume now will save you many hours later.
Make sure your online presence is an accurate reflection of your current interests and most recent accomplishments as well. Do a quick Google search and ensure that all social media bios, website profiles, and your LinkedIn are current – including your headshot.
3. Collect Samples of Excellent Work
In addition ensuring your resume and online information is accurate, add in any new portfolio pieces to your website or LinkedIn profile. Follow company guidelines of course, but begin to collect writing samples, media placements, and reports, as well as anything physical that you’ll want to add to your portfolio. Include notes on results or highlights so you have all the evidence you need for future interviews, applications, and opportunities.
4. Consolidate your media contacts
Now is also the time to gather a complete list of your media contacts and important new connections you’ve made at your current position. You’ve likely spent time getting to know specific niche reporters and assignment editors—don’t forget to update your personal media contact list with their information. Your relationships with certain outlets and connections you’ve built through pitching are extremely valuable assets that you bring to the table in any position. If it’s ok with your employer, send them an email with your contact information from your existing email address, or wait and connect with them on Linkedin or from your personal email after your last day.
5. Say Thank You
No matter the work environment, there will have been people who made your day brighter, easier, and more enjoyable. Make sure they know the impact they made on you with a small gift or card. The talented group of professionals you work with now could be your colleagues down the road (again) one day. Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean the relationship is over. The connections you build, and importantly, maintain, will be your industry resources and contacts for the rest of your career. Take care to end respectfully and with integrity.
Leaving your first job can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. When you make the next move in your career, be sure you’ve taken care of these 5 items before your last day so you’re prepared for your first day at your new job and beyond.
Rachel Vandernick is the Web Content and Social Media Manager at Elizabethtown College. She specializes in creating social and web strategies clients in niche industries, creating and managing digital ad campaigns, and helping to streamline brand communications. Connect with her on Twitter @